The neighborhood I live in is the north Lawndale community. This neighborhood is the third worst neighborhood in Chicago. There is always violence and deaths. Growing up and living in this area doesn’t bring positivity often. To experience good opportunities in the area is rare. There needs to be some form of change to the neighborhood, but it’s up to the residents to force the change.
"If any dish can play the part of humble immigrant food, it’s the pupusa, the savory masa cake from El Salvador that practically feeds the nation morning, noon and night." ----Tim Carman
Her tía used to make blue-corn sweet bread to sell to sustain the family. She shares that when she was five years old she would sleep over at their house and whenever she woke up in the middle of the night the room was full of the blue-corn aroma. Carolina confesses that though that’s one of her favorite memories growing up, she finally realized what blue corn looked like when she had the opportunity to travel to New Mexico and experienced cultivating it.
Waste in Portland is only picked up every other week, trash cans are much smaller, and composting is mandatory. I thought it was an interesting way in which policy can have major positive environmental impact. A limited waste system made it so the people of Portland were much more conscious of what can be recycled or composted.
Debbie conducted her research in the cities Bali and Yogyakarta, and it was painfully awkward to make her way into the activist community. The Indonesians saw her as an outsider; however, with the study abroad group being composed of mostly white students, Debbie’s skin color and ethnic background differentiated her from the stereotypical American tourist.
I interviewed my mom about the past “eco-friendly” activities that we used to practice in Poland. Because we lived in a village, most of the food we either grew ourselves or got from the farms animals, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Since gardening and farming were the two primary professions in my little village, many people grew flowers, vegetables, and other produce.
Vung was born in a poor and large family. She explained that they lived in a small village close to a jungle and mountains. Farming was not only the way for the villagers to put food on the table, but also is a part of their culture. Almost everyone, including women, elders, and children, participated in farming.
My mother and her nine brothers and sisters grew up with very little resources and often had to find creative ways to reuse items and share among the siblings. She brought over many of the practices she learned and did over in Mexico to the United States.
There are many ways to recycle clothing, and one of them is to do a DIY project. Doing a DIY project allows me to express my creativity and practice my art skills. They became the unique items as the conversation starters and representation of myself.
I learned from the movie Tapped that tap water is the only water guaranteed to have gone under tests for any possible harmful chemicals. This mind blowing information made me realize that drinking bottled water is both not eco-friendly or sustainable, and there is a possible health risk.
One example I will never forget is how my father asked my brother and I if we could find a strong, wishbone shaped piece of wood from a tree. We found it. The next step was to take an old shoe, and from that shoe, he cut out a large piece of its leather from it. He then took a rather strong elastic rubberband and connected the piece of wood and the piece of leather to each other. And just like that, he created a slingshot.
The biology teacher gave everyone a blank book. First we had to create a cover, and after the cover was created, the rest of the class was him speaking and everyone else writing. It was great because I was able to understand everything in biology class better than my other class or any class I have taken. Everyone compared drawings, knowledge, and even debated. It was then that the teacher introduced global warming to the class.
To this day I still remember my grandparents and the rural life style we had then. My grandmother had chickens and grew her own food, and my grandpa was an albañil /’handy man’. My parents and I lived with them and other extended family members, so sharing was a must. When I was younger my mother would always find time to be with me and teach me through her own, very subtle, ways.
One of the speeches at the Rethinking Soup events started with this earth-shattering statistic: half of earth’s natural habitats have been destroyed in the last forty years. This blew my mind. Forty years is less time then my parents have been alive for.
My Grandmother was the daughter of a coal miner and a housekeeper. She recalled that her father had a garden on the side of their house; “my father had two trees in his garden, a peach tree and a plum tree, the plum tree didn’t give much fruit but he kept the tree anyway.”
Years ago, my mother was diagnosed with autoimmune disease. As a mother, wife, and daughter, she knew that this would negatively impact her future by preventing her from living a life free of medical hardships. But rather than succumbing to her illness, she fought for her strength by embracing the healing abilities and emotional reassurance of plants such as natural herbs and beautiful flowers.
Last month, one of my moms 9 sisters from Jordan came to America. With her she bought the reminders. I dab some of the fresh olive oil on to my forehead. Home sticks to my skin.
Story collected by Lulu Martinez
Marcela Espinoza is a 28 year-old Mexican immigrant from Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. She and her family moved to Chicago when she was six years old, and in 2005, a year after graduating from high school, Marcela and her family decided it was best that she return to Mexico to look after her grandmother. Because Marcela lacked the necessary documentation to return to the U.S., it was uncertain if and when she would be reunited with her family and return to the city she now called home.
Piloto’s original bird sculptures, which inspired the project, provide the philosophical basis for the installation: “I was giving the birds the roots as wings, and I was thinking that if you go back to your roots and you tie yourself to your roots, you can fly, because you start getting more freedom and knowledge.”
I don’t have a built swing set, I have ropes hanging from trees, and so it’s within the natural environment. You don’t have to have machine built things for the kids to have fun. We have used all things that interact with the environment instead of destroying the environment - like the tree swing. Instead of buying a man made swing set, we got a 100 ft. rope and put it over our tree to use with a recycled tire.