Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and The Public Square presents, author and WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore in conversation with Audrey Petty, compiler and editor of HIGH RISE STORIES: VOICES FROM CHICAGO PUBLIC HOUSING.
Cabrini-Green. Robert Taylor Homes. Stateway Gardens. Ida B. Wells and Harold Ickes. Imposing structures that dominated the landscape of the city and the lives of residents in the second half of the 20th century in Chicago. In the gripping first-person accounts of High Rise Stories, former residents of Chicago’s iconic public housing projects describe life in the now-demolished high rises. These stories of community, displacement, and poverty in the wake of gentrification give voice to those who have long been ignored, but whose hopes and struggles exist firmly at the heart of our national identity.
About the editor:
Audrey Petty is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A Ford Foundation grantee, her work has been featured in Colorlines, StoryQuarterly, and Saveur, among many others.
For more info: http://voiceofwitness.org
Join us Tues, Sept 24th from 7-9pm at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (800 S. Halsted St.) as we provide this title for event attendees.
*Please note: this event is NOT at Quimby’s. It is at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at 800 S. Halsted St., Chicago IL 60607
About the book, among the narrators:
DONNELL, who was initiated into gang life at the age of twelve. A former resident of Rockwell Gardens, Donnell recounts growing up in an environment where daily life involved selling drugs, fighting rival gangs, and navigating encounters with a corrupt and often violent police force, as well as his efforts to turn his life around after incarceration.
SABRINA, whose sister was shot in the head in their Cabrini-Green apartment when she was caught in the middle of a turf-related shooting. Because ambulances refused to come to Cabrini-Green, and the elevators were out of order, Sabrina’s father and her then-pregnant mother had to carry her sister down thirteen flights of stairs to rush her to the hospital.
DOLORES, who, at the age of 82, was hastily displaced from her home in Cabrini-Green after 53 years and forced to leave many of her belongings behind. Dolores depicts her community’s evolution over five decades, including her leadership in resident government, and her husband’s mentoring of youth through a Drum and Bugle Corps.
CHANDRA, whose son’s felony conviction bars him from entering the grounds of Chandra’s home in Orchard Park. Chicago Housing Authority rules demand that Chandra report him to the police if she sees him on the property, or face eviction herself.
Advance praise for High Rise Stories:
“The importance of this book cannot be overstated. High Rise Stories is essential reading for anyone interested in fair housing. The Voice of Witness series is a megaphone for our country’s most marginalized voices, opening critically needed space in the national conversation on housing reform.” —Van Jones, Former Special Advisor to the Obama White House, author of Rebuild the Dream and The Green Collar Economy
“A hard look at the consequences of poverty and flawed concepts of public housing and urban renewal.” — Kirkus Review
“The[se] stories demand attention…though nearly all of the high-rises themselves have been torn down over the last decade, the problems discussed in th[is] book remain.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“A powerful and authentic work. High-Rise Stories captures the vibrant sense of community and home, as well as the challenges, that existed for those who lived in Chicago’s public housing developments, through a series of searing first person narratives. An important book and a very moving read.” —Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps
“Although Chicago demolished almost all of its public housing towers over the last few years, the “projects” live on in infamy. Cabrini-Green, Henry Horner, Robert Taylor–these were the imagined wastelands of the inner-city’s decay, the proper names of urban catastrophe. Employing the intimate interview style of Studs Terkel, High-Rise Stories allows real residents of public housing to speak in their own voices. Their gripping life stories are at once harrowing and inspiring, and give the lie to the myth that the projects were a monolithic hell, the people there mere victims or victimizers. The book is important reading for anyone hoping to understand Chicago in all its workings.” —Ben Austen, The Last Tower
‘Whatever else might be said about Chicago’s Plan for Transformation, it has proved a stunningly effective disappearing act. The city did not merely demolish its high-rise public housing developments; it erased them, without regard for the identities, attachments, and histories of those for whom these communities were home. High-Rise Stories is a major act of recovery and rescue. Bypassing the official narrative of enlightened urban “transformation”—as well as the social scientific folklore and magical thinking about “mixed income communities” deployed to support it—Audrey Petty has done something radical: she has simply and deeply listened to residents. Her book is an extended act of neighborly hospitality. Each of the voices she has assembled is distinct. Taken together, they evoke a lost world and speak to a future in which all have an equal right to the city.” —Jamie Kalven