All posts tagged: advocacy

Image: Bri Beck leans into the frame from the right side, looking down at a tan mixed media garment piece on a white pedestal. Other works can be seen in the background. Photo by Ryan Edmund.

Locating Your Practice in ‘Chicago Disability Activism, Arts, and Design,’ with Bri Beck

“I could have never expected this, it’s so exciting. It [makes me] feel like my story has been told for a very long time, and I don’t always have to be the one telling my story,” asserts Bri Beck while discussing the work in Chicago Disability Activism, Arts, and Design: 1970s to Today at Gallery 400. The exhibition is a multi-generational sampling of the disability-centered artwork that has been coming out of Chicago over the last fifty-plus years. Artist and art therapy graduate student Bri Beck and I visit the exhibition to discuss her experience as a part of this rich history. As we make our way through the gallery, Beck points out artists she’s worked with, portraits of people she recognizes, and professors she’s been mentored by. “I love being a part of the Chicago disability community,” says Beck. A close-knit and interconnected community, she explains, “there aren’t very many of us!” The seemingly small circle of artists and activists doing disability work in Chicago is precisely what has made the city an epicenter for advocacy and …

Three Things You Need to Know About Bright Star Community Outreach

Bright Star Community Outreach (BSCO) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has focused on improving the Bronzeville Community for over 9 years. Born out of Bright Star Community Church, they have a strategy which includes developing impactful community development initiatives. Their plan of action targets violence, poor economic opportunities, child safety, drug abuse, inadequate mental health services, and homelessness. BSCO has a mission to strengthen local families and communities as well as empower residents to work collectively, establish relationships, and share the responsibility of building the community. They particularly target the South side of Chicago’s third and fourth ward. There they see an extensive need for more violence prevention measures to be taken and to get the community more involved in being there for one another. The importance of an organization like BSCO is to shed light in all of the dark places and to make sure the voices of minorities are not just heard but taken seriously. There is a need for something different in our communities, and BSCO definitely brings different to the table on …

Tellin' Tales Theatre's Young Adult Writers program 2017, courtesy of Chicago Public Library. Image description: eleven people reading from black folders. Three people stand at the back while the rest are seated. Several of the participants are using wheelchairs.

Advocacy and Accession: Chicago Public Library’s Disability Awareness Month

There’s something about a library that makes me feel at home. The seemingly endless options of well-worn books are a welcome sight for anyone who grew up spending hot summers cross-legged on a public library floor. During July, that innate sense of welcoming is highlighted further with the Chicago Public Library (CPL)’s Disability Awareness Month. With a fierce desire to make the disability community feel more at home in the city’s library spaces, the CPL’s Diversability Advocacy Committee is in the midst of its second annual celebration of people with disabilities—both as guests as well as creatives. Evelyn Keolian, co-chair of the Diversability Advocacy Committee and a Children’s Librarian at the Edgewater Branch, took the time to tell me a little more about the library’s Disability Awareness Month. Courtney Graham: Last year was the Chicago Public Library’s first observance of Disability Awareness Month, how did this initiative begin? Evelyn Keolian: At CPL, we have different heritage and cultural committees that take on the responsibility to facilitate programming to celebrate their respective heritage months.  Some examples …