Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A different kind of magazine

 Streetwise is a magazine that empowers the homeless and the unemployed by giving them the opportunity to become a vendor, and by granting them a space to express themselves. Streetwise is, in my opinion, like a big family. A family allows its members to thrive. And so does Streetwise.
  I came across this magazine when I was in line to enter the Art Institute of Chicago. A vendor explained the purpose of selling the magazine and I bought it. (It costs two dollars). In addition to play reviews, Chicago calendar events and interesting social articles, I found a very inspiring read about one of the vendors: Jeff Berg.
 Jeff was a maintenance technician for a company that packaged machinery, but he was laid off in 2009. After not being able to pay the monthly payments for his house, he became homeless. He lost his home; he lost his car. He had to file for bankruptcy and lost almost everything, except for his persistence and his dignity.
 After going from shelter to shelter he found one that would take him. His case manager introduced him to Streetwise and he became a Streetwise vendor in April 2011. Jeff said, " I have to be proactive. I can't expect someone to come hand me money. I have to be out there everyday doing what I can to support myself. I have to be a part of society".
  As I write this, the words of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling come to my mind:

 "If you can watch the things you gave your life to broken
And stoop and build them up with worn-out tools.
If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them 'Hold on'".

Another article I enjoyed reading was about some homeless people who were able to complete college thanks to a renewable $2,000 scholarship awarded to them by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH).
   These people undergo all kinds of struggles, and they never give up. They are an inspiration to all of us. Check more about them yourself . You'll be surprised: http://streetwise.org/

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicago shots and a story

 I hope you will enjoy these photos. I visited Chicago last weekend, right when I read a short story that takes place in Chicago. It is not this coincidence that compels me to write this blog entry, but the story itself . The murderer is a rich cocaine dealer who had jumped a ten million dollar bail in the past. An innocent man, the victim's boyfriend, goes to jail because he is blamed for the murder. Paradoxically, he has a hard time finding a lawyer who is willing to represent him because he is hard up.
 The shocking situation has a happy ending thanks to a Golden Retriever that belonged to the woman who was killed. However, the story brings some disturbing questions to the table: can the system be so tyrannical that it risks releasing a guilty millionaire  at the expense of imprisoning an innocent one who is broke? Does money rule the outcome or is it justice? As a writer, this story made me reflect on the power of a simple story. The story is called "Three-Dot Po" and was written by Sara Paretsky. I would like to read more of her work now.

Lake Michigan, Chicago

By the planetarium
Zenobia, by Harriet Hosmer