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Jon Lowenstein Freelance
"South Side"

2 of 35

Reggie and his crew hanging out on a car on 72nd St. Chicago's South Side has numerous gangs and the Pocket, a six block square neighborhood there are three rival gangs that battle each other for turf and supremacy. Most of the members know each other and many of them went to school together at Paul Revere Elementary School. 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. My hope is to stimulate dialogue about inequitable access to education, jobs and housing-in short, about opportunity and the meaning of community. I have few answers to these questions, but I'm not done looking.


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