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Jon Lowenstein Freelance
"South Side"

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Madonna Driver runs in her front yard before she and her family moved to another neighborhood. Vacant lots that used to sell for $1 in the 1980's are valuable real estate and developers all over the South Side are clambering to scoop up the land that at one time was considered almost worthless. These developers and the city's politicians have worked together to ensure that the city will be a place for the wealthy, but have created few reassurances that poor people will be welcome in the new city. Pockettown: Change and Transformation on Chicago's S. Side This is a story about place. Pockettown, or "the Pocket," is a tight-knit African-American neighborhood in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. In 2001, Gary Comer, founder of Lands' End and a Pockettown native, asked me to teach photography at Paul Revere Elementary School and to document life in the neighborhood. A Revere alumnus, Comer was providing substantial resources through his foundation to his alma mater and childhood community, which had shifted from a white ethnic area to a predominately black neighborhood. I agreed. In January 2002 I began working at Revere and in the community. For the first 18 months I photographed primarily within the school. But I felt that my role needed to be more than a photographer, so I also coached basketball and worked on a community newspaper. As I became more known, I started to concentrate on life outside the school. Since 2000 the South Side has seen major changes, including the destruction of many Chicago Housing Authority projects and the continued gentrification of many communities bordering Lake Michigan. As part of documenting life in the Pocket, these photographs attempt to illustrate larger trends of renewal, change and transformation on the city's South Side. The project also includes audio interviews with neighborhood residents that record their feelings about the changes occurring in their neighborhood.


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