While we're on the topic of being a tourist in your own town, it's a good time to give a little preview of some great upcoming audio work from our friends at Curie Youth Radio. The young writer/producers over there have taken on what you might call a commissioned assignment--Patrick and I asked if they would be interested in doing pieces on some of their favorite places in Chicago.
The work isn't finished yet, but advisor Sarah Levine shared some early scripts with us. They are well on their way to giving listeners a taste of hidden treasures far from the beaten tourist trails. For instance, who knew that teenage Harry Potter fans are playing Quidditch in Marquette Park?
There's a couple of beautiful gardens in Brighton Park and Back of the Yards that may never be found on a Chicago garden tour, but give beauty and hope to family and neighbors. I'm going to have to walk past my own neighbor I don't know, over by 49th and Wolcott, and admire her miracle garden, which she defends endlessly against bird poop and trash. "It's like she lives for magnolias and twinkle lights," Ana Romero tells us.
There are haunted houses, real and virtual, a chocolate factory (not Blommer's on Kinzie), a comics store in Lakeview and an outpost of cafe culture way down in Beverly. Most importantly, we get snippets of the people who make these places special, from the children whose unique personalities make Whiz Kidz daycare a place of love and laughter to the block where a young man saw his best friend off to join the Marines, never to be seen again. There's a part of the West Side that doesn't have it's own neighborhood name, but the young storyteller who lives there remembers when she first arrived, and "can still see the desperation on my mom's face because she was eager to move us out of the Henry Horner projects and into a better community."
Oh, and if you find yourself over by 53rd and Mozart, don't be afraid of the quiet, 50-ish guy with a boxer's build out walking his dog. He might look intimidating, but he's a neighborhood hero.
Listen to earlier work by Curie students on the New Communities multimedia page (scroll down and you'll find them).
Look for another post when these and more pieces are ready for prime time.