This American Life on Gun Violence in Chicago

“Is this a safe neighborhood?”  It’s a question Maggie and I can expect to hear when friends from out of town visit our home in Hyde Park, a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.  In fact, our neighborhood is quite safe.  The nearby presence of the University of Chicago ensures the streets in our neighborhood are regularly and obviously policed.  Our son plays in the park across the street and we walk for groceries and other errands at all hours of the day or night.

Hadiya Pendleton Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times, January 31.

Despite the safety of our specific neighborhood, the question is not surprising.  Gun violence and murder is well-known in our city; the news from the south and west sides of Chicago is grimly portrayed on a nightly basis.  Last month the young Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in a park one block from where our church gathers for Sunday worship.

Talking about this violence can seem futile: conversation does little to honor the dead and wounded nor are most of us interested in the long, complicated discussion about the systemic and historic causes for the bloodshed.  It’s easier to turn away or propose simplistic solutions.

It was refreshing then, to listen to This American Life’s two-part series (part 1 & part 2) on gun violence in Chicago.  For five months reporters – including the legendary Alex Kotlowitz – spent time in one high school that has experienced far more than its share of death.  The perspectives from administrators, students, parents, teachers, and support staff go a long way toward a more nuanced and humble conversation.  Their stories invite the rest of us to pay close attention.

Vegetable and Herb Garden

I know that a few of you have been working over the past few weeks to get your garden in the ground.  Since this is our first summer in our new home in Hyde Park we’re taking a bit of a risk that our little back area will get enough sun for the tomatoes and other veggies we planted a few weeks ago.  We’re also taking a chance that the local raccoon has plenty of other ways to fill his belly.

Here’s a quick video of what the garden is looking like thus far.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Those of you with gardens, any tips to keep the raccoons and squirrels away?

Hyde Park Community Players

This weekend Maggie is preforming as “The Fool” in W.B. Yeats’ play, On Baile’s Strand.  The play features the Irish folkloric character Cuchulain, though I’m pretty sure my wife will steal the show.  The play takes place at the Experimental Station in Hyde Park on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:30.  Tickets are a measly $10.00 at the door or $8.00 from Backstory Cafe and 57th Street Books.

More information can be found on the Hyde Park Community Players’ Facebook page or at the Experimental Station event page.

Maggie has already sold a bunch of tickets so I hope to see some familiar faces when I attend on Friday night.  Care to join us?


Congratulations to Maggie for 3 great (and quite funny) performances this weekend.  Check out these great photos on Flickr thanks to Mark D. Stump.