They sit around circular tables in groups, bent around white artist canvases they cover with magazine clippings and paint, the kind of colorful mixtures and shapes spotted at modern art museums.
One table’s canvas displays Chicago’s iconic “L” train and a palette of the city’s ethnicities and iconic food—hot dogs, deep-dish pizza. Another table’s canvas depicts...
Stories • October 30th, 2018
A torrential August rain pummels Chicago, turning streets into wading pools. But inside a brick building three floors up in the city’s Andersonville neighborhood, the rain just serves as a steady soundtrack as Darlene and Jim Conner settle me at the dining room table of their apartment, offering me an array of tea bags and slabs of homemade Black Forest cake.
Their 20-year-old son...
Stories • July 31st, 2018
How Chicago Navigators connect with prison ministry in Asia
Atop a concrete wall, jagged edges of bottles, brown and green, jab at the sky, translucent in the sun. They are meant to prevent escape.
Behind the wall, in a courtyard, hundreds of women roam. They wear two kinds of uniforms: blue and white if they have already been sentenced, and orange if they still...
Stories • June 27th, 2018
Around 7:30 a.m., inside a brick house on the corner of Kimbark and Kenwood Avenues on the far South Side of Chicago, Colleen Brinkmeier gathers at a table with Debra on a recent Tuesday, just as they do every morning.
They pull out their Bibles, and each has brought with them a devotional, from which they’ll share a passage with one another.
A block away, 87th...
Stories • June 4th, 2018
James Kang moves through Southeast Asia with alacrity and aplomb, wearing flip flops and weaving through the streets without fear, stepping in front of the ever-present motorbikes weaving past him—often hopping on one himself—and greeting longtime friends in just about every country.
James had grown a silver-flecked, ebony mustache for the first time just before a...
Stories • March 21st, 2018
When some people see an expo atmosphere, with swaths of tables set up by companies and organizations giving away free pens or t-shirts or other swag, they gravitate toward the freebies.
Not Nikki Janes.
Tables filled with freebies hardly ever appeal to her.
But one day at the start of her freshman year, she wandered the green space at the University of...
Stories • February 23rd, 2018
Six years ago, James Brooks fell to the concrete floor of his prison cell. His “cellie,” or cellmate, usually never left during yard time. But that day felt different—and it was. That day, when the call came to exercise, his cellmate jumped up from his bed and threw on jogging pants.
“Where you going, cellie?” James asked him.
Stories • January 24th, 2018
Sonja Sampson stood at a bus stop in Englewood and closed her eyes.
When she did, she tried to envision her future. She saw nothing. Just darkness. Just a blanket of black.
She tried again. She wanted to see something, to envision anything.
“You know, when you close your eyes, you might see somebody running past?” she says now, 15 years later. “It...
Stories • December 22nd, 2017
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Stories • October 27th, 2017
On a recent Nav Night, in a room at the student center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Alejandra Villa raised her hand during an icebreaker game in which everyone had to describe something interesting about their footwear.
“This is Johnny,” she says, gesturing to the student standing next to her, “and his shoes have taken him across the...