Afternoon Edition: Youth lead this West Side walking tour

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

And happy summer solstice. 

In today’s newsletter, we’re heading to North Lawndale, where our reporter Mariah Rush recently attended a youth-led walking tour.

The tour invites Chicagoans from all over the city into different neighborhoods to learn about essential but often underappreciated local history — with the teens who call the areas home as guides.

Plus, we’ve got reporting on the expansion of a program meant to help gun violence victims, major grants for local artists, a new Chicago-based comic series and more community news you need to know below. 👇

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


Youth-led tours show off North Lawndale culture, history

Reporting by Mariah Rush

Listening to the youth: Teen-led walking tours from My Block My Hood My City aim to spotlight the culture and history North Lawndale has to offer.

New stops: Now in its sixth year, the tour has added stops around North Lawndale, highlighting community gardens, a local grocer, churches, restaurants and the history of the neighborhood. 

Hidden gems: The tour stops at the MLK Legacy Apartments, a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s time in North Lawndale in 1966. Guides also showcase the Stone Temple Baptist Church, a Chicago landmark built by Jewish immigrants where King gave many speeches.

‘Hear their pride’: “[The youth] get to change the narrative, and they always hear negative things about their neighborhood, but you can walk with them and hear their pride,” said Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block My Hood My City. “It gives them presentation skills for college and allows them to do storytelling.” The tours also are a way for students to earn money during the summer. Most are paid $15 an hour, Cole said.

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Reciprocal value: Xavier Ferguson marked his first day as a tour guide on Wednesday. With about 10 other guides, the 15-year-old Austin resident spent the two hours talking individually with attendees about the stops. “I’m actually learning a lot about this neighborhood,” he said. “While we are teaching people about it, I’m learning about it.”



Zubaer Khan/Sun-Times

Zubaer Khan/Sun-Times

Keeping it cool: When the heat wave hit earlier this week, restaurant owner Robert Magiet bought more than 20 air conditioning units and gave them away for free to residents in Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Belmont Cragin and surrounding areas.
 Mayor expands program for gun violence victims: With summer off to a violent start, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced on Thursday a $10 million expansion of a fund created two years ago to provide emergency assistance to the victims of gun violence and their families.
 Chicago-area artists awarded grants: As part of its inaugural Platform Awards, the Skokie-based Walder Foundation is giving out $2.4 million in unrestricted grants to 12 local mid-career music, theater, dance and interdisciplinary performance artists.
 Lollapalooza lineup change: Tyler, the Creator announced Thursday he is dropping out of his Thursday, Aug. 1, headlining slot. Hip-hop artist Megan Thee Stallion will take his place. 
 3 stars for ‘Thelma’: At 94, screen veteran June Squibb gets her first leading role and carries the movie with style, writes Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper.


The cover for the first issue of “Big Shoulders” (left) by Scott Gray and an alternate cover by artist Charlie Adlard showcase the creators’ love for the city.


Comic book series ‘Big Shoulders’ a ‘love letter’ to the city

Reporting by Emmanuel Camarillo

Chicago is about to be invaded by snarling dragons, rogue artificial intelligence and alien visitors from a distant world.

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No cause for alarm — those are just some of the fantastic elements in “Big Shoulders,” a new comic book series set in the city that launched a Kickstarter campaign for its first issue earlier this month.

John Dudley, indie comic scribe and co-creator of the series, said the project is meant as a “love letter” to Chicago, using characters and stories to highlight the city as a crossroads of America, where people can dream bigger than Lake Michigan. The series is named after one of Chicago’s many monikers, the City of Big Shoulders, from Carl Sandburg’s 1914 poem “Chicago.”

Dudley and co-creator Scott Gray, artist on the project, describe the story as an “urban fantasy.” That’s where the aliens and dragons come in.

But readers can also expect plenty of real Chicago history within the pages, which are colored by illustrator Faz Choudhury. The narrative includes an immortal character named Greg who has been stuck in Chicago since it hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

“That’s where having the immortal character gives us an avenue to explore Chicago history but blend it into the narrative so it’s not like anyone is getting lectured,” Dudley said.

The series will explore several characters, newcomers to Chicago with big aspirations, over a span of six issues. Tales will showcase different genres — sci-fi, crime thriller — but be tied together through Greg the immortal, who weaves in and out of the plot lines. The issues will be collected into one volume once completed.



University of Illinois Chicago welcomes four new falcon chicks: ‘They’re very vocal’

Reporting by Violet Miller

As the University of Illinois Chicago sent off its graduating students in May, it gained new residents — four baby Peregrine falcons.

The baby birds hatched the first weekend of May, during the university’s commencement weekend, according to a school news release. Field Museum ornithologists Mary Hennen and Dylan Maddox tagged the falcons later in the month, helping to keep track of the newest city falcons as part of larger research into falcon populations.

“It was like holding a newborn and realizing how special it is that these creatures call UIC their home,” UIC Chancellor Marie Lynn Miranda, whose office shares the 28th floor with the birds, said in the statement. 

Mouse and Loop, the happy parents, have made their nest at the school for more than a decade now, and another pair of falcons, along with their two chicks, live near the medical buildings on the west side of campus. The couples are just two of the 15 pairs of Peregrine falcons in the Chicago area.



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Editor: Esther Bergdahl
Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore
Copy editor: Chris Woldt

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