Šviesuolių bendrystė juodųjų Čikagoje i r Lietuvos kaime
- Kaip gyvename? Čia užsibuvau Čikagoje ir nebežinau, kada grįšiu į
Lietuvą. Anglų kalba parašiau laišką, kaip juodųjų kvartale Englewood
puoselėjame šviesuolių židinį. Trokšti puoselėti ir Lietuvos kaime,
telktis Zenono ir Audronės krašte. Kviečiu pasvajoti.
Gal kada surengtumėme vaizdo tiltą tarp Čikagos ir Lietuvos kaimo?
Andrius Kulikauskas, ms@..., (773) 306-3807, http://www.selflearners.net
Jean Carter-Hill of Imagine Englewood if...
asked me to help our new President Wanda Carter find income to cover our
I'm writing you to share our situation. I ask you to help us find
partners who appreciate us and wish us to succeed so that they may
likewise. I share my letter openly through my online group Living by
We're especially interested in getting work, as opposed to money. We're
also reaching out to include all who'd like to base themselves at our
center as our friends.
"Imagine Englewood if..." is a real jewel which I am very grateful for.
I've been to the Lithuanian countryside, Bosnia, India, China, Mexico and
Israeli-occupied Palestine, but much more distraught than any of these is
Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. I've lived in Englewood on-and-off for
a year and a half and so far the only functional, inclusive, organic
center that I've found is Imagine Englewood if... Thank you for helping
Jean Carter-Hill give shape to her hope that we all work together.
I share some pages from your Imagine Chicago website:
Currently, we have a lively center open from 12:00 to 6:00 on Mondays to
Saturdays. We're at 730 W. 69th St. We attract youth, seniors, adults
and volunteers from around Chicago. We're working together through
education, journalism, computers, theatre and arts. We're addressing
violence and lead poisoning. We're celebrating Black History. Our building
is the Viking Temple and we enjoy a gigantic hall and ball room. Our
building owner Sal is dynamic and supportive.
We're meeting Mondays, 4-6 PM, to think through how to support Imagine
Englewood if... as a base for our vision and activities. We're having our
second meeting tomorrow. We invite you to join us some Monday, and
likewise we invite others you might suggest.
We're aiming for an operating budget of $6,000 per month, of which $500 is
for rent, $1,000 for utilities, $3,000 for two or more part-time workers,
and $1,000 for any extra needs or contingencies.
We talked about our team. Who wants to invest themselves here? We're
organized around Jean Carter-Hill, but how many more years will she
devote? I was heartened to learn Wanda Carter has agreed to serve as
President. Wanda Carter is pursuing her Ph.D. in adult education. She
leads a local online newspaper http://ccnewsmedia.org and podcast.
Christine Taylor of the Rise Foundation joined us
http://www.therisefoundationchicago.org Her non-profit prepares youth for
college. Jean agreed to mentor her.
We also discussed our vision. Jean says that the crisis in our
neighborhood is that we haven't learned to work together. She also
focuses on the youth because they still have hope to grow and remake our
neighborhood. We all would like to include the not included.
Jean has deep regard for my integrity, my values and my outlook, which we
seem to share. I spoke about my own future in Englewood and my wishes for
Imagine Englewood if... which I write below, and which centers on
fostering a culture. I am grateful to feel Jean's, Wanda's and
Bliss, we met at Tom Munnecke's "Imagine Iraq" in 2003 near Santa Cruz,
From 1997 to 2010, I struggled to lead my online laboratory, "Minciu
Sodas", http://www.ms.lt , for serving and organizing independent thinkers
around the world. Tom Munnecke paid my way to come from Lithuania and
participate. He's an inspiring thinker and doer, but I learned that we
have a fundamentally different sense of culture.
I'll describe the culture I seek for us in Englewood and everywhere.
I was born in 1964. I grew up in Orange County, California. I enjoyed it
as a utopia. I believed that we lived in the greatest part of the
greatest state of the greatest country at the greatest time in the history
of the universe. If there was anything wrong in America, certainly
somebody was at work fixing it.
I'm Lithuanian. We used to visit our grandparents in Chicago's
neighborhood Marquette Park, which at the time was the "capital" of
Lithuanians in the free world. It was strange to see the race line along
Western Ave, where 100% of the people on one side were black, and 100 % on
the other side were white.
All my life I appreciated that my talents weren't for my sake, but for
everybody's. I went to the University of Chicago, and later I lived with
my grandmother in Marquette Park when the neighborhood became primarily
Black American, and I have also stayed in Englewood with my friend David
Ellison-Bey of the Moorish Cultural Workshop. I've worked for Ivy League
Tutoring, a black owned business, and I pray at St.Benedict the African
East. I know and say that I am Black American, a member of Black America,
by choice, and I am accepted.
My culture is to be drawn to where I could be most useful. I have
enormous talents and so I'm drawn to where there's tremendous need.
I believe in my heart that we're all the same. I believe that there is a
culture of unity which is basic to all of us. Yet I have learned that
almost all people live in a different culture, a "normal" culture, a
pernicious culture, that keeps us distant, separate, segregated. I think
that those who want the culture of unity will know to come together for it
in Englewood, which is so distraught and so convenient, and other such
places. I am rewarded to discover Jean, Wanda, Christine, David, Sherri
This culture is very much what Jesus declares as the kingdom of heaven.
Central is this oneness, that we are there for each other.
The kingdom of heaven is "eternal life" experienced in this life.
Generally, this life is too much for us, we try to tune it out and shut it
down. For example, choosing to abuse drugs is choosing to be stunted, to
not grow, not listen and learn from our moods. But God loves us more than
we love ourselves, wants us to learn forever, grow forever, live forever,
here and now. We can choose to live that life here and now, as we do in
the meaningful moments in our lives, which last forever. All of our
moments could be such, and if we choose, will be such, will become
"What you believe is what happens." This says that God's impulsiveness -
what he thinks is what he does is what is - fits within the confines of
what we ourselves believe. The kingdom of heaven is the occupation of
this earthly life by a heavenly life. It is a bridge of meaning that
links all that will ever be with what is here and now. It links tangibly
each of us through our intuition, our accumulated perspective.
Imagine a culture where every truth is available, tangible, at hand. Every
question can and will be answered. People seek and live the truth. And
every challenge can be made human-sized. Questions such as:
* What is your deepest value in life, which includes all of your other
* What is a question that you don't know the answer to, but wish to answer?
* What do you wish to achieve?
We can organize around each other, around our answers, and thus all be
leaders, as relevant.
I'm used to engaging God, listening to God, collaborating with God,
especially with regard to my life, what to do with it all. I'm struck
that so are Jean and Wanda. They do what they do in part because they
feel that's what God wants them to do. I believe that is essential for
leadership in this culture. It's crucial to have a channel to the highest
perspective, to get outside of our own self-centeredness, and imagine how
we can be interpreted as people-in-general doing what any good person (or
Jesus) would do in the situation that we find ourselves. We have the
opportunity to encourage in each other that listening to God. And thus to
welcome in each of us the utmost dedication.
I suppose this link with God, this greater self-integrity is essential for
leaders who want to live and move outside of the current norm and yet make
a new norm tangible through our behavior.
Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven as for the "poor-in-spirit", which I
take to mean the "skeptical". The rich-in-spirit are the martyrs, the
ones who say "I believe!" unconditionally. That is not earthly! We want
to see things right, block by block, soul by soul, step by step, moment by
Jesus also speaks of the kingdom of heaven as for "those who are
persecuted for the sake of righteousness". We know how this system has
slapped us around for being good, honest, true, compassionate, righteous.
We know it is wrong. It's supposed to be wrong. That is how we know each
other. We are "for real".
We know that we are at the right end of the rope. My friend David speaks
of a racial caste system which I think of as a moral caste system. I'm
doubtful if there is much honest work in America which pays more than the
average wage. Industry by industry - education, food, finance, military,
police, health care, technology, social work, government - it's hard to
find a well paying job which you can keep without lying or looking the
other way when it hurts others and our world. But those who have a job,
say, a telemarketer, so often looks down on those who don't: At least I
work a job. And the unemployed: At least I don't use drugs. And those who
do: At least I don't sell them. And those who do: At least I don't sell my
body. And it goes on and on. At the end of the rope it's about race and
sex because it's got to become crude and visible. But who cares about the
end of the rope?
Jean told me how men come out of jail and go back to Englewood. Some of
them shake down stores for protection money. We have so few stores as it
is. Recently, one of these racketeers got shot. When the police came,
they got asked, why don't you help this man? And the police replied, we'll
wait for him to die. He's no good. We're all better off without him. And
that's the way we're dealt with at the end of the rope.
I told Jean, Wanda and Christine, we can choose, what partners we seek.
If we want to foster a culture, we can think it through, and seek friends
and partners accordingly. If we rely on government or corporations or
non-profits, then we may avoid recognizing the real problems and
addressing them. We live in a city where all 50 aldermen belong to the
same party machine, where the National Democratic Party has not thought of
banning the local party, but depends on it, and that is why that racketeer
is left to die. We live in a state where I think 68 of 118
representatives ran unopposed, and is it four out of five governors have
been jailed for corruption. We live in an American dream that is a
* instead of fostering our own culture, we're indoctrinated to live this
* we suffer prejudice - whether for being black or for being good - in
achieving this dream
* when we finally achieve this dream, we're ridiculed for realizing that
it was just a mirage, there was no point to it, as if we didn't know.
We can foster our own culture. We can pursue our questions and discover
our truths. We can share our dreams and work together. In particular,
through the arts, we can express challenging ideas that people don't want
to hear - such as "God doesn't have to be good, life doesn't have to be
fair; how does that good kid deal with that? how does the bad kid?" - and
art changes the rules, art holds us together, we are able to talk, as is
happening with my art http://www.selflearners.net
We found each other because we know where to go, namely Englewood. We
have each other and can invest in each other. We have a fantastic base.
But how do we sustain that in this world?
Instead of asking for money, we can ask for work. What is work that each
of us wishes to do?
If we are strong as individuals, then we can support our own base. I for
now have a part-time job that pays well, and I could contribute money for
a space, but especially if I could have a place to live, a place to do my
Could each of us have our own incomes, our own businesses? Isn't that what
we want for ourselves and each other?
For example, Wanda publishes newspapers, blogs, podcasts. Why shouldn't
that yield viable income with reports from Englewood to the world?
Especially if God told Wanda to be working such work?
Christine prepares youth for college. Isn't there enormous potential for
related income. Or, for example, there are businesses whose workers don't
know any math, and would benefit if we taught them even the basics, how to
do a 10% discount.
This all helps us think of our center as a place where temporary part-time
staffers develop their own businesses as they work for our center until
they can help support it.
I admit that I've gone bankrupt in failing to make my online laboratory
work, as well as related centers. I realized that the relevant culture
was too weak. Yet I'm encouraged that Jean and Wanda very much embrace me
and my perspective.
In summary, I'm grateful that Jean has invited me to help Wanda and our
center develop income for operating expenses. At our next meeting I hope
we might further:
* Imagine the culture we seek.
* Consider what our culture might mean for God and others, including them
and their concerns.
* Consider the activities each of us personally want to do.
* Imagine what friends or partners we might attract to our center.
* Consider what kind of business opportunities relate to our desired
* Plan who to engage accordingly.
Bliss, thank you for considering our efforts and my long letter.
We await your inspired response!