The eyes of the world will be on Chicago this weekend as about 2,000
journalists from around the nation and the globe are headed to the Windy
City to cover this weekend’s NATO summit.
Surely, the national and international press will be focused on the visiting Heads of State and other high-ranking government officials, in addition to the planned protests set to take place. But a group of community organizers is urging the NATO press corps to take a deeper look at some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.
Grassroots Collaborative, an association of 11 community organizations, including SEIU* Local 73 and SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, will guide visiting journalists on two “Chicago 99% Tours”
this week. With reporters from Reuters, the BBC, and various local
publications already signed on, the tours will take the press via
charter bus through Chicago’s Englewood, Brighton Park, Little Village,
and Back of the Yards neighborhoods.
“We want the visiting journalists to get outside of downtown, to hear the real stories from Chicagoans who live in different parts of the city who are dealing with issues like foreclosures, violence, and school safety,” said Amisha Patel, executive director for Grassroots Collaborative.
One of the issues Patel and her organization have been most vocal about is the millions of dollars World Business Chicago raised to support the NATO summit. In a press release, the community activists said about $14 million will go towards paying for “NATO parties.”
Patel said she’d like to see some of that money redirected to help Chicago’s poorest residents repair their neighborhoods by setting up safety watches for school children, or use to prevent the closures more local mental health facilities.
“We want to have a chance to have the voices of Chicago residents really come through on this global stage, because without doing this those journalists certainly aren’t going to get that picture as they have very scripted activities downtown,” Patel said.
The tours will take place on the mornings of Thursday, May 17 and Friday, May 18.
* The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this web site.