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Tune In for Good News

25 Jun

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Gaynor Hall wrote an astonishing piece for WGN TV website (http://wgntv.com/2013/06/24/media-and-violence-in-chicago/) on a topic we have all talked about, that of the media and its coverage of violence in Chicago. For quite a while now I have had a Google alert for the Austin neighborhood and almost every feed I get has the words shot, dead, or wounded somewhere in the headline. I rarely open them, not because I do not care about the individuals whose lives have been taken for petty and often irrational reasons, but rather because it makes me feel helpless. I also admit that I chose to let my writing reflect Thumper Rabbit’s philosophy “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all.” And yes, I do realize I just quoted a cartoon rabbit from a 70 year old Disney movie; the value expressed is an integral part of my life.

In her piece, Hall spoke to Robert Douglas, a college student whose life went off track after the senseless death of his brother as well as Suzanne McBride, journalism professor at Columbia College, and several local publishers. While all of them offered valid points, I was most astonished by Suzanne McBride, until I read her bio on the Columbia College site and realized she is also the founder of AustinTalks.org (http://austintalks.org/). She pointed out that if all the media covers in Austin is crime, it does a disservice to its readers and to the community as violence “doesn’t really tell…the rich history and life for… (the) communities.” The on-line publication Dnainfo.com/Chicago (http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/2012-chicago-murders) made the decision to tell the personal story of every homicide victim, granting them dignity in death but more importantly, recognition of their life.

The take away from this is that we need to combat the so-called scoreboard coverage, as N’Digo Magazine publisher Hermene Hartman so aptly named it. Headlines such as “Six Shot in Austin Over the Weekend” do little to move us to take action and so very often make people tune out. Instead, as a community, we need to tell family narratives, tracing the people who have achieved success, in spite of the odds, or talking about the resiliency of individuals in our families and communities. We need to acknowledge the positive and show that the people who do not make the ten o’clock news matter more as they are the ones who define our individual sense of self.

P3: The Game Changers/ Rising Stars of the Austin Community

15 Aug

One of the many problems about the news is that it can be so negative. Negativity sells papers and gets plenty of views on a website, but does it make a positive impact on our community? I don’t think so. Here at P3, our goal is to focus on the Game Changers and Rising Stars that are having a positive impact on the Austin community, our youth, and our culture. These are the hidden jewels of the Austin community.

I recently had the opportunity to see Move Me Soul, a dance troupe, perform at Austin High School. I can’t give enough praise to Diana Muhammad and Ayesha Jaco for the mentorship and choreography that they provide to over 40 students in the Austin community. Move Me Soul is a movement that is saving lives on the West Side of Chicago through discipline in the form of dance.

Move Me Soul gave an excellent performance of African, Modern and Jazz dance styles. Diana and Ayesha are shining examples of Game Changers in the Austin community and Chicago. They are helping our youth to find another way out of the ‘hood through dance and hard work toward their goals. Please stay tuned; I will be posting my interviews with two of Move Me Soul’s dancers, two Rising Stars from the Austin community, Reggie Jones and Marielle Dickens, later this week.

Eldrick Hereford

Telling Our Own Story

8 Aug

Periodically we will be focusing the blog on one of the hidden jewels in the Austin neighborhood. There are a myriad of individuals, businesses, or even architectural gems, that contribute to the best of Austin but may be overlooked in the salacious headlines and crime statistics.

A brief history of the area might help to illuminate this unique community. According to the Chicago History online encyclopedia (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/93.html), Austin was created by developer Henry Austin in 1865 as a temperance settlement within the Cicero Township. In 1899, it was voted out of the Cicero Township and into Chicago. Originally home to Germans and Scandinavians, Irish and Italian families soon followed until the 1960’s when the population began to shift to predominantly African Americans. Today the neighborhood, having suffered from increased violence during the economic downturn which devastated both the real estate market and businesses within the neighborhood, is once again posed for rebirth and revitalization. Community leaders and business owners, profiled in a recent Crain’s Chicago article, spoke about their hopes and fears for the neighborhood.

Richard Feynman, noted Quantum physicist, looked at problems as or more complex than those of Austin and said “Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.”  If you have a story or know someone or something you would like us to feature, please contact us.