Ms. Gonzalez has been sleeping at the Whittier Elementary School field house since Thursday night—a cheerily painted location, to be sure, but not an ideal housing situation for the 46-year-old banker and single mother. But she’s been fighting to host a library in the building for seven years, and she feels ignored by the Chicago Public Schools, who instead slated the building for demolition, to make way for a new sports field. For a neighboring school.
Although CPS knew the building had been in active use for those seven years, they claimed it was structurally unsound. So the Pilsen Alliance, an organization devoted to ensuring residents in the neighborhood a voice in local development, had it inspected, by engineering firm Ingenii in Oak Park. Their findings? That the roof needs work, but that “the structure is in good condition and suitable for continued use.”
As we talk, in the brightly painted room that might be in better condition than some of the newly renovated rooms at Whittier Elementary itself, young people come in to ask Araceli questions, say hi. Other moms wave. The atmosphere is congenial. Fun, actually. And deeply caring.
There’s so much unity here. I talk to people that I’ve never seen in my life. They talk to me like they’ve known me forever in my life. They bring food, they bring water. They ask you, You OK? You need anything? Go to sleep. We got it, we’ll take care of it outside. You need to go to work.
Sign on Whittier Elementary field house
…Read Full Entry