Michelle Fire is the owner of Big Chicks Bar, now in its 30th year, along with Tweet Diner. Michelle is an independent woman with a love for people. She has been an art collector since college, and she showcases her art collection in the bar. Around the bar, you can find many photographs of women that she has collected from all kinds of photographers. Michelle has always been fascinated by how photographers portray their photos of women along with the concept of being able to look back in time through photographs. Michelle enjoys her neighborhood of Uptown because of the many different people she is able to meet, and she hopes for Uptown to remain a mixed neighborhood. It was wonderful meeting Michelle, and the last piece of advice I was given is to “keep your job and stay outta jail,” the same advice Michelle’s mother told her on her deathbed.
Born in Indiana, Ann Enloe (right) moved to Chicago 15 years ago in search of a job. Ann had no family, job, and when her apartment was taken away, she ended up in a homeless shelter, which began a challenging period in her life. Ann searched for a job for a year before hearing about Inspiration Kitchens. She took the 90-day training program and once she graduated she worked for “food for thought” at a pay of $20/hour, which helped her get out of the shelter in 30 days. Ann opened the Inspiration Kitchen in Uptown 10 years ago, and volunteers to help prevent others from going down her same path. Today, Ann lives in Boystown, and believes she is not different from her peers because “diversity makes the world go round”, which is something Ann also appreciates about Uptown. Two people Ann appreciates in her life are her girlfriend and Lisa Nigro, the woman who started the company Inspiration Kitchens. A wish Ann has for Uptown is for it to have better meal programs, and one last piece of advice Ann gave was “don’t quit your job before you have another.”
Born near Olympia in Greece, George Goumas moved to Chicago 50 years ago. Growing up, George had a normal dream for a young boy; he wanted to be a cowboy. In George’s young adult life, he went on plenty of adventures on cargo ships. George traveled the world and went to many countries, which was a challenging yet unforgettable experience. George may even write a book about it someday! Today, George manages the restaurant “Palla’s Grill”. George enjoys working in a neighborhood with such beautiful buildings and appreciates his good health, friends, and family.
Cesar is a mechanic at Africa Auto Repair & Body Shop on Clark Street. He came from Mexico at the age of 17. He told me that it is still hard for him to to become acclimated in a large city like Chicago since he came from a small village. He feels that everyone around him is equally great. He is happy living and working in Uptown and is going to go back to school to become a more advanced mechanic.
Kenneth was deaf and mute but he allowed us to take his picture and was able to read our lips.
Miles had a very unique signature which he said was influenced by John Hancock’s from the US constitution. He said that he made his signature so complicated so that it couldn’t be forged. Miles also talked briefly about the struggle of growing a beard and how it took him a year to get to the point he is at now.
We don’t know much about William. We know he needed a dollar for coffee and we know that he has “debts in Missouri”.
Ms. Horton owns and runs the Family Day Care preschool after working at Mccutcheon school for 10 years. She has owned the preschool for 10 years. Even though she lives in Brownsville with a teenage son in high school, working in Uptown has both good and bad aspects. She loves the diversity that Uptown has and the variety of people you can just see walking on the streets. Ms. Horton keeps the doors of the daycare locked since she still sees all the young homeless people as well as the mentally disabled that might seem dangerous to her kids and business. Taking after her mother, she wanted to do something that would really give back to the community. That was a main part of the advice we asked from her. She said to keep yourself grounded and always come home and give back to your community. Her mother Polly Horton, even had a street named after her for being so involved in benefiting Uptown. Growing up there, she admired the close-knit community and now she is glad to be an active worker, helping teach the local kids there.
I love this picture because of all the daycare kids faces. I said “make a silly face” as I took it and they were happy to give me a funny look.
Tiana Rodriguez has worked for congresswoman Jan Schakowsky for fifteen years. She loves working in Uptown because it is a diverse community which allows her to learn about other cultures. Tiana was born with Marfan syndrome, which is a disorder that effects connective tissue. Tiana was originally born in Mexico, but she lived in an area that could not provide the resources for her disorder. After being adopted, she moved to Chicago and attended Goudy school. Tiana hopes that in the future public schools like Goudy can provide their special-needs students with ramps and other necessary tools.
Larry Booth currently works as a manager of the Salvation Army. When asked about what he is proud of, he happily stated that he has been sober for 11 years. Though he didn’t go into detail, Larry used to have serious addiction problems. He grew up in the West Side of Chicago, surrounded by drugs and violence. He “thought he could do anything” but eventually pushed himself to get help for his addiction. When asked to give advice, he told us that you “can’t always do it yourself”. The Salvation Army allowed Larry, and many others, to overcome their difficult pasts and provide a steady job. Though he has had many great experiences in Uptown, there is still much work to be done. “The mentally ill are not taken care of”, Larry mentions, “there’s a lack of government funding”. When asked for opinions on Argyle Street’s renovation Larry responded that he did not appreciate it because, “the alderman isn’t addressing the real problems”.