Showing posts from September, 2017

Uptown Trauma

Don't misunderstand this: what happened in Uptown this week was extremely traumatic for an already traumatized people!

For years, I've known people who have been living under the viaducts or in uninhabitable places in Uptown. During this past week, squads of city workers and police flooded the 2 viaducts and forced them away from their community. An overabundance of authority figures forced them to move 5 times! They were threatened with tickets and arrest! They were threatened that what little they possessed would be thrown away. The sight was intimidating because all the police stood there in their uniforms, with their weapons and bulletproof vests. This is traumatizing! This is incredibly traumatizing to people who have already faced copious amounts of trauma in their lives!

The folks who lived in Tent City found community together. They supported one another! They lifted each other up! They fed each other. They encouraged each other! As in any community, fights and power-pla…

Opposites Celebrate 50 Years

Today (September 23rd) is my parents 50th wedding anniversary. They have been and are a beautiful example of love and commitment to all who know them. We were in New Zealand last month and we had a party to celebrate their amazing 50 years together. This was my speech.....
We didn't have a childhood full of drama, in fact, it was pretty predictable! We knew the routine and we felt safe! Mum and dad were reliable and consistent.
Whether it involved Weet-Bix in the morning, mowing the lawn, elders meetings, dad's lunch box, going to church twice every Sunday, going to the library, the dice rattling from the cup used in Triple Yahtzee after we'd gone to bed, getting no more than 2 squares of Cadbury's energy chocolate or holidaying in Whangamata, we knew the routine and in many ways it helped us feel safe and secure! 
Dad especially is a creature of habit and someone who thinks it's a grave sin to be late, or as mum loves to call him, "boring"! Mum has always a…

Pain and Discrimination in Uptown

We only arrived back in Chicago about a month ago, but it already seems like we've been here for months! Those relaxing and quiet 2 months we spent in New Zealand, catching up and chilling with friends and family, now seem like a distant pleasant memory.

We returned only to again be struck by the injustice, turmoil, and chaos of Uptown! We cannot dodge or ignore Chicago's crooked politicians, it's power hungry real estate gangsters, the city's bureaucratic intolerance of the poor and how she outright bullies, demonizes and casts aside anyone who doesn't fit their classist and racist mode! We returned to seeing and feeling the pain of our homeless brothers and sisters who are being trampled down, stomped on and lied to again by the powers-that-be!

People are in pain! People are scared! Those living under the Lake Shore Drive bridges in tents are about to be evicted and scattered. Those living in the Wilson Men's Hotel are about to be evicted and given little opt…

Uptown Gentrification and Housing Discrimination!

Maurice* is locked up again, he is sleeping tonight in a cold hard cell downstate! This nonviolent 60-year-old man, who is mentally ill and extremely sick isn't eligible for parole until July next year. He remains behind bars because he was guilty of being homeless, shoving a little glass pipe into his mouth and smoking the ingredients packed in it, cracking open cans of beer on public streets and failing to meet appointments! 
Maurice's story makes me weep! I've known him for over a decade, and this man possesses an addictive personality, a body that's withering away, and he has been rotating in and out of jail, prison, and homelessness! This devastating cycle continues, not because he's a danger to society, but simply because he struggles to escape from the lure of cocaine and alcohol. It continues because he's homeless and therefore uses these substances in places where the authorities can trick him and catch him. It continues because he's poor and unable…

Toxic Relationships! (Bridge Message)

For those who don't know; I live in an intentional Christian community on the north side of Chicago, I also work in a large homeless shelter in the same neighborhood of Uptown and spend a lot of time doing outreach to those sleeping outside. I tell you this because I have all these different relationships or friendships in these vastly different communities. They affect me and I affect them both positively and negatively. 
The truth is, it doesn't matter where we are and what we do, we all live in a world where we are affected by others and we have the power to affect others too.
Years ago, I was a taxi driver. At that time, I had recently finished Bible College and had also done a 9-month mission trip. I felt strong, I had my bible and had hopes and dreams of bringing the power of the gospel into my cab. Yet, as I drove, I watched those hopes and dreams quickly dwindle as I was overpowered by a very different set of hopes and dreams; dreams to get high, dreams to get drunk, dre…