I had the pleasure of giving a guest lecture Thursday in Suzanne McBride's Community News class at Columbia College. The seven students in the intensive summer course were just getting started on reporting from neighborhoods often not covered by the major media outlets. In other words, the types of neighborhoods involved with the New Communities Program.
We talked about the hard edge of history in Chicago's working-class neighborhoods, where enormous factories once provided brutal but much-wanted jobs for hundreds of thousands of immigrants. Jobs that are mostly gone now. We discussed the racial segregation that first hemmed in the African-American population, and later resulted in white flight and the social catastrophe of Chicago's public housing high-rises, a piece of history that the young students had never seen. And we covered the rapid influx of Latinos – and the gentrification that is following in some neighborhoods.
Which brought us to the present day and to the students' assignments in South Chicago, Little Village, Auburn Gresham and a couple more.
The students will be posting at Columbia's ChicagoTalks.org (formerly Creating Community Connections), which has already made some headway on covering communities other than Wrigleyville. I was encouraged that these students, at least, seemed quite interested in the neighborhoods that made this city great. Stay tuned for links to their stories.