contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

Chicago, IL

Cities of Peace seeks to amplify the struggles of young people in Chicago and Phnom Penh as they organize to transform harm and create community healing. Using their own site-specific histories as a jumping off point, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Peace Institute of Cambodia will form Community Peace Councils which will interrogate the roots of structural and relational violence and practice transformative justice. They will produce a documentary film, develop exhibitions, and participate in an international exchange which will culminate in a Community Peacebuilding Summit in Chicago in the summer of 2015.




The following is an overview of the 10 day journey the Cambodian Peace Fellows experienced during their visit to Chicago in July 2015. They engaged with academic historians and neighborhood scholars; community organizers and teaching artists; circle keepers and transformative justice practitioners as they learned about and shaped Chicago’s radical history. On Sunday, July 19th they hosted #Cambodia2Chicago Freedom Party, a celebration of transnational solidarity featuring peace circles, art making activities, peace and justice tours of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, a Chicago-style cookout, and audio liberation from DJ RoRo. 

During their visit, Cambodian Peace Fellows learned about Chicago’s history of immigration, labor, and women’s rights activism at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum; explored structural racism and political organizing on Chicago’s South and West Sides with historian Prexy Nesbitt; and built relationships with the Cambodian-American community and experience the diaspora through storytelling and advocacy at the Cambodian American Heritage Museum. They delved into issues of gender and sexual justice with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health; practiced transformative justice and learned about the struggle for reparations with the Chicago Police Torture Memorials and Project NIA; and participate in acts of creative resistance with Free Street Theater. They experienced community organizing with Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Chicago Freedom School; and explore the role of culture in peacebuilding and with Circles and Ciphers,  Ayodele West African Drum and DanceElev Arte Studio, and I Grow Chicago. Their final day was spent exploring the connections between domestic and international struggles at the Hyde Park Dacha with #BlackLivesMatterChicago


Friday, July 10th

On day one we will get to know one another, learn about and experience first-hand different techniques deployed by local community organizers in Chicago, including restorative justice and art interventions.  Additionally, we will explore the history of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and its purpose during the Progressive Era, as a settlement house in the Near West-Side community and through its current mission as a museum.  We will also set boundaries for creating an intentionally nurturing space for ourselves to learn collectively.

Guiding Questions: Who are you? Who are we? What are our intentions for our week? How do we create a safe and nurturing environment for ourselves and each other? What are our values as a collective?

Site of Community Engagement: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Damon Locks, visual and sound artist and prison arts educator


UIC is located on Chicago’s Near West Side conveniently near the CTA Blue Line, the Eisenhower Expressway, and it is within walking distance of downtown Chicago often called “The Loop.” UIC now occupies what used to be the Hull-House Complex whose neighbors were Greek, Russian, Italian, German, African American, and Mexican.


Restorative Justice focuses on repairing or restoring the harm caused to the victim and the community at large by a crime.

Circle keeping is a restorative justice practice used to build understanding when harm has been done, to celebrate, or simply to talk.

Transformative Justice is similar to restorative justice in that it emphasizes repairing harm. However, it’s a broader philosophy that implements all conflict thereby moving beyond the justice system.

Settlement House Movement began in the 1884 in London. Settlement houses began popping up in the U.S. with the most recognized of those being Hull House founded in 1889 by Ellen Starr and Jane Addams.

Settlement houses provided social services to their surrounding communities and often served as a meeting place for activists.

Progressive Era is the period roughly defined from the 1890s to the 1920s in the U.S. This period is notable for the advancement of legislation that shortened the workday, made child labor illegal, and mandated the inspection of meat processing plants, to name a few.


Restorative Justice 

Prison Culture Blog 

Women in the Progressive Era

Timeline of legislation passed during the Progressive Era

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum serves as a dynamic memorial to social reformer Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and her colleagues whose work changed the lives of their immigrant neighbors as well as national and international public policy. The Museum preserves and develops the original Hull-House site for the interpretation and continuation of the historic settlement house vision, linking research, education, and social engagement. The Museum and its many vibrant programs make connections between the work of Hull-House residents and important contemporary social issues.

Damon Locks is a visual artist and musician operating in the Chicago area since 1988. As a visual artist he began his schooling at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, as an illustration major. He transferred to The School of The Art Institute in Chicago where he received his BFA in Fine Arts. His visual work often revolves around people and their landscape; the narrative themes of protest, unrest, and tension are woven throughout. The processes used to reach these ends are a combination of, but not limited to: drawing, photography, digital manipulation and silk screening. In recent years, he has been lending his artistic and/or teaching talents to organizations such as Prisons and Neighborhood Arts Project, Art Reach, the Center for Urban Pedagogy and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and the University of Illinois at Chicago where he will be teaching this fall.



Saturday, July 11th

On day two we will work to explore how we individually and collectively define community and how those definitions change across space and time.  We will spend time at a family home with Cambodian American Families to help us explore these notions of “our people” and “community.”  We will also think about memory, both collective and individual, as it relates to intergenerational trauma and history.

Guiding Questions: What is family? What is community? Who are your people? How do we build community?
Site of Community Engagement: Cambodian American Family Home and Community Gathering in the Bunker Hill Forest Preserve, Skokie, IL


Skokie is a suburb north of Chicago. “Skokie” is the Potawatomi word for “marsh” as much of Chicago was marshes, swamps and wetlands before it was developed for commercial and residential use.


Intergenerational Trauma, sometimes called transgenerational trauma, is trauma that is passed on by survivors of trauma to their children and further generations.

Postmemory describes the relation the second generation to traumatic events that they only remember through stories told to them by their ancestors.





Sunday, July 12th

On day three we will examine numerous definitions of “safety” and critically engage with the notion of “safety” as a physical, emotional, health-based ideal.  We will place particular emphasis on the intersection(s) of safety, gender, and sexuality and will engage with community professionals whose work is central to organizing around reproductive and sexual health issues in the Chicagoland area.  Through envisioning gender and sexuality as a fluid notion, not a binary one, we will explore how violence and lack of consent can and does have an impact on various communities, and what work is being done to advocate for reproductive and sexual justice.

Guiding Questions: What is interpersonal violence? What is institutional violence? What is structural violence? What does safety look like/feel like? How do we create safer spaces for all gender and sexual identities? What does consent look like/feel like? How do we create ongoing opportunities for consent?
Site of Community Engagement: Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: FYI Performance-Based Education Collective

Social/Cultural Activity: Summer Dance - Tango in Millennium Park


Downtown is a huge tourist attraction boasting the Willis Tower, the Hancock Building and Cloud Gate (the Bean), and the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza. Some of the wealthiest people live and shop there. Downtown is home to several commuter campuses including DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern, Harold Washington College, Columbia College, School of the Art Institute, Robert Morris College, and Roosevelt University.

Structural Violence or Institutional Violence is what ‘s perpetrated by a social structure or institution and prevents a group of people from meeting their basic needs.

Interpersonal Violence occurs when someone exerts control and power over another and has many forms.

Gender refers to the socially and culturally constructed roles, physical appearances, and expressions that one identifies with and takes on.

Sex is assigned at birth (i.e., male, female, intersex) according to one’s genitalia. One’s sex and gender may not match, and that’s ok! Below is a picture that explains it well.

Consent means that people in an encounter, sexual or otherwise, must agree to it, and either person may decide at anytime that they no longer consent and want to stop the activity.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:                                                    

On the term ‘cisgender’


About Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health:

For more than three decades, ICAH has organized and trained young people to advocate for issues that directly affect their lives and communities. ICAH has conducted statewide research, developed resources, changed public policy, and hosted frequent events and training sessions for youth and service providers, always with an emphasis on building youth leadership skills and serving marginalized populations, including low-income, immigrant, homeless, LGBTQ, and pregnant and parenting adolescents. Today ICAH continues to work in partnership with youth, advocating policies and practices that promote a positive approach to adolescent sexual health and parenting.



Monday, July 13th

On day four we will focus our attention on the arts.  We will explore how various organizations and communities around Chicago are using art as a weapon for resistance.  Exploring methods such as Theater of the Oppressed and storytelling, we will examine traditions that are rooted in communities across the globe, but take their own form locally.  We will explore the Humboldt Park and West Town Neighborhoods, where artistic traditions dating back several generations are utilized by residents to both resist oppressive forces and keep traditions alive.

Guiding Questions: What does creative resistance look like? In what ways can art transform individuals and societies? How do we liberate our imaginations?
Site of Community Engagement: Free Street Theater

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Regin Igloria, bookbinder; Free Street Theater


Humboldt Park is a sprawling 200 acre park on Chicago’s west side. The surrounding community is mostly Black and Latino. However, due to gentrification Humboldt Park in recent years has become increasingly white causing the residents who have lived there to be displaced.

West Town, where Pulaski Park (named after Casimir Pulaski who was a Polish General who fought in America’s Revolutionary War) is located, is northwest of downtown Chicago and east of Humboldt Park. Historically its residents were predominantly Polish.

Theater of the Oppressed a participatory theater that fosters democratic and cooperative forms of interaction among participants designed for people who want to learn ways of fighting back against oppression in their daily lives.

Prison Industrial Complex describes the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline is a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems that disproportionately affects students with learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and those who would benefit from additional educational and counseling services.

Gentrification is the buying and renovation of houses and stores in urban neighborhoods by wealthier individuals that raise property values and displace individuals who can no longer afford to continue living in the area.


The Prison Industrial Complex Is 

More on What is the School-to-Prison-Pipeline 

Prison Neighborhood Arts Project 

96 Acres Project 

Theater of the Oppressed 

Gentrification in Chicago 

About Free Street Theater:

Free Street Theatre teaches acting and writing skill to youth so they can their potential to be creative, active participants in their own lives. As part of their training, the youths develop original performances that are performed each year at Free Street Theater and in public spaces throughout Chicago.

Continuing Free Street’s history, the youth focus their explorations on universal topics regarding the human condition and social change. Past productions delved into the U.S. economic collapse and rise in home foreclosures and the inefficiencies of the U.S. educational system.



Tuesday, July 14th

Day five will focus on how various communities in Chicago, and beyond, have worked toward healing from systemic injustices and violence.  We will dive into the history of Black Chicago, focusing on the political and social realities of the neighborhoods that construct the South and West Sides of the City.  We will talk about how these communities have defined “justice” and how that definition has changed over time.

Guiding Questions: How does healing relate to action? What is segregation? How do you build solidarity within such a segregated space? What does justice look like in these communities?
Site of Community Engagement: Tour of the Political History of Chicago’s South and West Sides

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Dr. Prexy Nesbitt, historian and freedom fighter

Social Cultural Activity: Movies in the Park, Edward Scissorhands


The business center of Chicago. Always busy, always hoppin’. Where you can find The Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum. Also home to Grant and Millennium Park. The University of Illinois at Chicago is filled with bustling youth whether they’re rushing off to work or rushing off to class, there’s never a dull moment in these areas.


Segregation is the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.

Redlining is to refuse a loan or insurance to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk. This was enforced in a way that discriminated against Black people in places like Chicago.

Civil rights are things that every person of the community has, or should have, the right to including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc.


The Case for Reparations  Explores how practices, that were state sanctioned, like redlining produced today’s very segregated Chicago.

Redlining Still Exists 

Articles about segregation in Chicago: Chicago is the most segregated city in the US

Mayoral Election and Segregation

 The Most Diverse Cities Often the Most Segregated


About Prexy Nesbitt:

Rozell “Prexy” Nesbitt was born and raised on Chicago’s West Side. Nesbitt has lectured both in the United States and abroad, and has written extensively, publishing a book and articles in more than twenty international journals. Nesbitt also served as a co-writer on the BBC production of The People’s Century program Skin Deep, about racism in the United States and South Africa. Over the course of his career, Nesbitt made more than seventy trips to Africa, including trips taken in secret to apartheid torn South Africa; his work has garnered him numerous awards throughout his career.

Even before completing his Ph.D. in 1975, Nesbitt was highly active in labor and equality movements; by 1976, he had become the national coordinator and field organizer for the Bank Withdrawal Campaign for the American Committee on Africa. Two years later Nesbitt was named the director of the Africa Project at the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. In 1979, Nesbitt became the program director and secretary for research at the World Council of Churches, based in Geneva, Switzerland. Nesbitt returned to Chicago in 1984, where he continued his work as a labor organizer. In 1986, Chicago mayor Harold Washington named Nesbitt as a special assistant. The following year, the government of Mozambique appointed Nesbitt to serve as a consultant to help them represent their interests to the United States, Canada, and Europe; he remained in this post until 1992.


Wednesday, July 15th

Through listening to the testimony of a police torture survivor and activists who have stood in solidarity with torture survivors, day six will focus on the movement for reparations in Chicago and reimagining community safety through a transformative justice lens, as opposed to a punitive lens.  We will talk with organizers who identify as prison abolitionists and organize using that framework, to address and combat state violence.

Guiding Questions: What is trauma? What is intergenerational trauma? What does reparations look like in Chicago? What does community safety look like? What does healing look like?

Sites of Community Engagement: Teach Burge, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Project NIA

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Mariame Kaba, founder of Project NIA; Joey Mogul, civil right attorney with The People’s Law Office Civil Right Attorneys of Chicago; Darrell Cannon, Chicago Police Torture survivor


Pilsen is a predominantly Latino community, although in the 19th century Pilsen’s inhabitants were mostly Czech, German, and Irish. Now it home to a vibrant arts community boasting many art galleries and studios. The art literally spills onto the streets with its high density of murals. Due to its inexpensive housing prices, culture, and diversity gentrification is starting to occur.


Reparations in Chicago are for the victims and their families who tortured by Jon Burge and other members of the Chicago Police Department from 1972 to 1992. On May 6th the Chicago City Council approved the creation of a $5.5 million fund for those who can prove they were tortured. The money can be used to receive psychological and psychiatric treatment, vocational training, and more.


About the Chicago Torture justice Memorials Project 

As Part of Reparations Deal, Chicago Teens Will Learn About Police Brutality in School

On the term Latino 

About Project NIA:

Launched in 2009, Project NIA is an advocacy, organizing, popular education, research, and capacity-building center with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. Project NIA believes that several simultaneous approaches are necessary in order to develop and sustain community-based alternatives to the system of policing and incarceration.  Their mission is to dramatically reduce the reliance on arrest, detention, and incarceration for addressing youth crime and to instead promote the use of restorative and transformative practices, a concept that relies on community-based alternatives.

Project NIA supports youth in trouble with the law as well as those victimized by violence and crime, through community-based alternatives to the criminal legal process, and they partner with numerous stakeholders to create such alternatives. Project NIA advocates for redirecting resources from youth incarceration to youth opportunities. In Swahili, NIA means "with purpose." Ultimately, the main purpose for Project NIA is to prepare communities to get involved in creating an effective strategy to address violence and crime.


About Darrell Cannon:

Darrell Cannon was tortured by three CPD officers (Byrne, Dignan, and Grunhard) on November 2, 1983 at a remote site on the South Side of Chicago. As a result of the false confession ultimately extracted from him, he was convicted of murder and spent 24 years in prison, including seven years in Tamms Supermax under conditions of isolation and sensory deprivation that constitute torture under international standards. Mr. Cannon’s conviction was overturned and he was released in 2007. He has been fighting since his release for justice for himself and all police torture survivors.



Thursday, July 16th

Day seven will locate Asian American identity in Chicago and help us explore how immigration to the United States intersects with the experiences of Asian and Asian Americans in the City.  We will tour a cultural center dedicated to the history of Cambodian immigrants and Cambodian American culture, and we will explore how the Cambodian community has addressed issues of social justice and healing.

Theme: Asian American in Chicago

Guiding Questions: How does the migration experience impact culture? What does justice and organizing work look like in the Asian American community in Chicago? What does healing look like for Cambodian Americans?

Site of Community Engagement: Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Cambodian American Heritage Museum/Cambodian Association of Illinois

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Kaoru Watanabe, Associate Director, Cambodian American Heritage Museum; Lisa Yun Lee, Director, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Architecture, Design, and the Arts


Uptown, sometimes called “New Chinatown,” is located on Chicago’s North Side and in the early 1900s was a vibrant entertainment district.

Albany Park is located on Chicago’s North Side and is among the city’s most diverse communities with public schools that have 40 languages spoken by the students who attend them.


That’s Not Who I Am: Calling out and Challenging Stereotypes of Asian Americans 

AAI 20th Anniversary Video on Asian American Issues in Chicago 

About Asian Americans Advancing Justice:

Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago, a member of Advancing Justice, has a mission to empower the Asian American community through advocacy, by utilizing education, research, and coalition-building.

Advancing Justice-Chicago was established in 1992 by a group of visionary Chicago community activists, academicians, and business leaders in response to the growing need to build a pan-Asian policy agenda among Chicago's diverse Asian American communities. Advancing Justice-Chicago projects a united voice on the most pressing issues of concern to Asian Americans in metropolitan Chicago. Its staff and board work closely with a broad network of established community leaders and emerging activists who have bridged ethnic and cultural differences to find solutions to shared concerns.

About Cambodian American Heritage Museum/Cambodian Association of Illinois:

In October 2004 The Cambodian Association of Illinois established the National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial to preserve Cambodian culture, facilitate the general public’s understanding on genocide and human rights, and to heal and bring Cambodian Americans together to move beyond survival to self-sufficiency. The Killing Fields Memorial, which is the only memorial of its kind outside Cambodia, commemorates the 3.4 million people who died in the genocide during the Khmer Rouge regime. It provides a space and opportunity for survivors and the younger generations to come together and begin the dialogue on bridging generation gaps and healing. Finally, the museum is a place of celebration and the triumphs of survivors and the culture that was saved from near obliteration.

The mission of the National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial is to remember the lives that were lost during the Khmer Rouge through cultural preservation, community enrichment, and genocide education.  The Museum and Memorial fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of its collections, and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide. To promote and foster the continual process of healing, the Museum strives to recognize and support Cambodian and Cambodian American artisans, musicians, and organizers through collaborations, art and culture residencies, and workshops.

About Lisa Yun Lee:

Lisa Yun Lee is the Director of the School of Art & Art History, a visiting curator at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and a member of the Art History, Museum and Exhibition Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Lisa is also the co-founder of The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council, an organization dedicated to creating spaces for dialogue and dissent and for reinvigorating civil society. She has published a book on Frankfurt School philosopher Theodor Adorno titled, Dialectics of the Body: Corporeality in the Philosophy of Theodor Adorno (Routledge, 2004), and researches and writes about museums and diversity, cultural and environmental sustainability, and spaces for fostering radically democratic practices. Lisa received her BA in Religion from Bryn Mawr College, and a PhD in German Studies from Duke University. She is the Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at UIC, and she serves on the national boards of the American Alliance of Museums, Imagining America: Artists & Scholars in Public Life, the Ms. Magazine Advisory Board, and the boards of Rebuild Foundation, the National Public Housing Museum, Young Chicago Authors, 3Arts, and the International Contemporary Ensemble.



Friday, July 17th

Day eight will focus on community organizing in Chicago and the ways young people have engaged in social justice work around the City.  We will hear from representatives from a local freedom school that centers young people and their experiences into community organizing.  We will also hear from various representatives from the Pilsen neighborhood and explore how the residents of Pilsen have organized for community safety and political change.

Theme: Community Organizing

Guiding Questions: What does solidarity look like? What tactics and strategies do young people in Chicago utilize to effect social change? How do we create safe spaces within our organizing communities?
Site of Community Engagement: Chicago Freedom School and Elevarte Studio

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Xavier Danae Maatra, youth worker Giselle Mercier, Executive Director of ElevArte Studio

Social/Cultural Activity: Mural Tour of Pilsen with Elevarte Studio and National Museum of Mexican Art


Printer’s Row is located south of downtown often called the “South Loop.” In the 19th century, Printer’s Row was the site of many printing and publishing companies. Now many of the buildings have been renovated for residential purposes.


Community Organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest. This usually involves confronting politicians, business leaders, and other people in positions to advocate for legislation that will benefit them.


‘The House on Mango Street’ Inspires New Art Exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art

About Chicago Freedom School:

Founded in 2007, the mission of the Chicago Freedom School (CFS) is to create new generations of critical and independent thinking young people who use their unique experiences and power to create a just world. CFS provides training and education opportunities for youth and adult allies to develop leadership skills through the lens of civic action and through the study of the history of social movements and their leaders. Our vision is in the spirit of the original freedom schools in Mississippi in the 1960s, with CFS serving as a catalyst for young people across Chicago to discover their own power to make change – not only for themselves, but also for their communities and the world.



Saturday, July 18th

Day nine will focus on the usage of cultural production as a means to organize for peace and justice.  We will hear from various representative of grassroots cultural organizations that use spoken word poetry and circle keeping to affect community change.  We will also get a first-hand experience of a musical and dance production from the African Diaspora.

Theme: What is culture? What is the role of culture in creating more peaceful and justice communities?

Guiding Questions: In what ways does culture help us to build peace?
Site of Community Engagement:  Circles and Ciphers

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Ash Foston, circle keeper and poet

Social/Cultural Activity: West African Ayodele Drum & Dance and Red Clay Dance for a Night Out in the Park


Rogers Park is located on Chicago’s North Side. Loyola University Chicago’s campus is here. Rogers Park is named after Phillip Rogers who operated a toll and was one of the original settlers of the area displacing Potawatomi and other native peoples who would settle the area seasonally.

Fuller Park opened to the public in 1911 and named after Melville Weston Fuller who Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1888 to 1910. Fuller Park is close to the Dan Ryan Expressway and is walking distance from  the U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox baseball team.  The surrounding community, also called Fuller Park, is mostly Black.

Chinatown is located on Chicago’s South Side and was settled by Chinese people fleeing anti-Chinese violence in California. Today over 22,000 people of Chinese descent live in this area.

Cipher is a small circle of people where those participating do freestyle (unwritten) raps.


Resolving conflict and finding justice through “peace circles” 

About Circles & Ciphers:

Circles & Ciphers is a leadership development program for disengaged young men that uses peacemaking circles and hip hop ciphers to transform legacies.

Circles and Ciphers builds and mobilizes a healthy, youth-led community among prisons, courts, and gangs involving young men (predominantly African American, ages 14-22) from Chicago. Circles and Ciphers uses hip-hop infused peacemaking circles and creative arts projects on a wide variety of themes including masculinity, violence, school, gangs and gang histories, stereotypes, policing, and relationships. Participants are empowered to derail a legacy of disengagement.

Circles & Ciphers developed out of a volunteer effort with young men placed in a DCFS (Illinois Department of Children & Family Services) group home at risk of closing. Community members believed that the residents of the group home were a major source of community violence and crime. The Circles & Ciphers founders decided to volunteer with the group home to build community and support for the young men. Volunteers created a safe space where they could share their feelings and experiences using hip-hop to guided conversations. Circles & Ciphers evolved from those conversations.

About Ayodele Drum and Dance:

Ayodele Drum and Dance exists to foster community from a feminine perspective through the study and performance of diasporic African drum and dance.In 2007, seven African dancers came together to learn the art of the drum to enhance and improve their dancing. The sisters were led by Tosha ‘Ayo’ Alston and the seed of Ayodele Drum & Dance was planted.

Ayodele, a Yoruba word meaning “Joy in the home", is now a diverse sister-circle of performing artists committed to studying and performing drum and dance as a healing element. We’ve grown from that circle of seven to over twenty Queens who use African drum and dance to educate and motivate young women and children.We believe the seeds of the future lie within our children, so we’ve begun cultivation with our Sesa Wo Suban rites of passage program. The curriculum encourages confidence and teaches life skills to all children, especially African-American youth, using African music, dance, history and art.

In addition to self-producing an annual Spring concert (since 2010) to sell-out crowds each year; Ayodele Drum & Dance performs throughout the City of Chicago and the surrounding area frequently, at festivals, community events and private parties.Whether teaching children, healing the community with classes, producing sold out concerts, studying with female Samba Masters in Brazil, Master Djembe and Dununfolas of West Africa or spreading healing energy through performances, the Ayodele Drum & Dance remains an unending circle firmly rooted in joy.


DAY 10: #Cambodia2Chicago FREEDOM PARTY

On day ten will we will spend our time together by envisioning our future and the kind of world we hope to create.  We will examine more closely, what we need to do as individuals and as communities to make that world a reality.  We will create art, take peace and justice tours of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and have a freedom party on site.


Guiding Questions: What kind of world are we building towards? What kind of individual and collective work needs to happen for us to create this world?
Site of Community Engagement Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Silvia Gonzales, visual artist and educator; Erica Brooks, visual artist and educator; DJ Ron Ron, social justice dee jay

About Silvia Gonzalez:

Silvia Gonzalez intersects social interactivity and praxis by crafting curriculum that is people centered and designed to engage in artistic and critical exchange. Gonzalez is a teaching artist from Chicago who has collaborated in local artist collectives such as Hyde Park Dacha and 96 Acres. She has experience teaching and organizing community arts based programming for Woman Made Gallery's 20 Neighborhoods Project in Albany Park, The Jane Addams Hull House for Cities of Peace, Northwestern Academy, The Art Institute's Ryan Education Teacher Programs, Street Level Youth Media, and as a  full-time educator in Chicago's public and private school settings. Her current work seeks to bridge community social justice praxis within the classroom setting by creating zines designed to engage youth around the themes of police violence, power and architecture, labor rights, imagination, play, freedom and confinement. Gonzalez received her Masters in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA in Photography and Art Education from   the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign.


About Erica Brooks:

Erica is an artist, storyteller, and also the program assistant for Cities of Peace. She has worked with WBEZ’s Vocalo Storytellers, The Art Institute of Chicago,AmeriCorps, and Chicago Sun-Times.Recently she was  part of the project, Portraits of  Resolution, through 96ACRES in hopes to build conversations about the impact of Cook County jail in Chicago communities. She holds a B.A. in Visual Arts from Union College and is currently working towards an M.A. in the Master of Arts Education at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Erica works to build narratives people of color by using art and storytelling to accomplish her goal. Erica is the assistant organizer for the Cities of Peace programs, and hopes to continually help the fellows throughout the process!



Monday, July 20th

Our last day together will focus on genocide in various cultural contexts and how we can build empathy across perceived and real boundaries of difference.  We will focus on understanding our differences and working toward using those differences as a strength instead of envisioning them as a hinderance in connecting cross-culturally and cross-experientially.  We will reflect on our time together and draw from the various experiences we had with one another to develop a sense of what solidarity looks like for us.

Guiding Questions: What does solidarity look like to you? What does healing look like to you? How do you understand genocide in various contexts? What does building empathy across cross national lines look like? What are our differences and how do those differences affect our ability to be in solidarity? How did visiting these different communities change how you think about solidarity/peacebuilding/healing?  

Site of Community Engagement: I Grow Chicago + Hyde Park Dacha

Visiting Artist/Scholar/Activist: Tameka Walton, Executive Director, I Grow Chicago; Jason Tompkins, organizer, #BlackLivesMatter Chicago


Englewood is a predominantly Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Before it was developed in the mid 1800s Englewood was mostly swamps.

Hyde Park is also on Chicago’s South Side. It is the site of the University of Chicago campus and hosts the Obamas’ home in Chicago. Irina also lives in Hyde Park.


Daymaker: Irina Zadov of the Hyde Park Dacha 



About I Grow Chicago:

I Grow Chicago’s mission is to provide a safe, inter-generational haven to children and at-risk community members. Through sustainable farming and educational programs in nutrition, movement yoga, and the arts, we foster creativity, wellness and empowerment for individuals in the community as a whole.

I Grow Chicago’s philosophy is that: Whatever happens to any one of us—human, animal, plant or ecosystem—happens to all of us. We are all in this together, and together we can use our unique interests and skills to help others improve their lives, their families and their community. We believe in combining the enduring benefits of yoga, sustainable gardening, and creative/artistic expression in a holistic approach that helps.

About #BlackLivesMatterChicago:

#BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17-year old Trayvon was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder. Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.  Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.  It centers those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.

About Hyde Park Dacha:

Hyde Park Dacha is a live/work/create space which cultivates creative communities through dialogue, cultural production, and healing. We are an artist collective of women, migrants, people of color, and LGBTQ folks committed to social transformation.

What’s a dacha? The word dacha holds a mystical place in the hearts and minds of Soviet people. In a country known for political persecution, economic hardship, and social oppression, the dacha served as a safe haven. These rural allotments - often a shack and a garden - provided sanctuary from surveillance and enabled self-determination in a world where nothing was private. Dachas brought together family, friends, and neighbors who rolled up their sleeves and built a little piece of happiness among the chaos. While the dacha is Eastern European, intentional communities are ancient and global. Hyde Park Dacha explores this model within its geographic, social, and political context on the South Side of Chicago.