WBEZ | Hull House http://www.wbez.org/tags/hull-house Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Home Economics at Hull House Museum http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-12/home-economics-radical-roots-domestic-labor-104323 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/YQm1C_iTIJM" width="640"></iframe></p><p>Back in <em>my</em> day (I&rsquo;ve always wanted to start a review with those words!) home economics was still part of the middle school curriculum. We learned to follow a recipe, to set a table and clean up after our classroom meals, and to sew important objects, like pillows made out of washcloths or dangerously skimpy pot holders.</p><p>I was never keen on the domestic arts and sciences, a truth made clear by my sloppy stitches and thrown-together dishes. Though had I known more about the history of the field, I might have been more willing to apply myself. Thankfully, <em>21<sup>st</sup> Century Home Economics</em>, a new year-long exhibition at <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/">Jane Addams Hull-House Museum</a>, offers an opportunity to form a new relationship to the discipline. The show explores the way women used the science of domesticity to escape their confinement in the home and carve out public roles for themselves. In doing so, they were able to fight for and secure a number of social reforms, from better working conditions to safer food.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6808_milk-scr.jpg" style="height: 280px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="History of Milk reform, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (WBEZ/Alison Cuddy)" />At first it&#39;s hard to see that history. There is so much clutter crowded into the small second-story exhibition space&nbsp;&ndash; tea cups, books, sewing machines and more &ndash; &nbsp;that entering feels like stepping into ye olde curiosity shoppe. What does stand out is a pair of large, stunning photographs of important figures from the early days of home economics.</p><p>One is of&nbsp;<a href="http://libraries.mit.edu/sites/mithistory/community/notable-persons/ellen-swallow-richards/">Ellen Swallow Richards</a>, a chemist and the first woman admitted to MIT. She helped integrate germ theory into an emerging discipline: &nbsp;linking bacteria in food to illness in people. Her work inspired various reform efforts at Hull House, including a political campaign for sanitary milk (a history cleverly told through text printed on old-fashioned glass milk bottles).</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In fact, most home reformers had broad agendas. &nbsp;Utopian writer <a href="http://www.charlotteperkinsgilman.com/">Charlotte Perkins Gilman</a>&nbsp;(best known for her short story &quot;<a href="http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/wallpaper.html">The Yellow Wallpaper</a>&quot;) imagined a world of collective rather than private kitchens and laundries, a social arrangement she hoped would free women from the drudgery of what we now call the &ldquo;second shift.&rdquo; That&#39;s a remarkable vision, especially since <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/168612/daddy-wars">women continue to do the bulk of childcare and housework.&nbsp;</a></p><p>The exhibition taps into the radical heart of home economics&nbsp;by connecting these 19<sup>th</sup> century histories and ambitions to present struggles.&nbsp;Beneath a large portrait of a Hull House servant named Mary Keyser, you&rsquo;ll find narratives and artifacts from current domestic workers. A sponge sits in a glass case next to a text describing the efforts required to bathe a morbidly obese client.&nbsp;These contemporary testimonials make visible the enormous labor <em>and </em>care involved in domestic work. And a different sort of representation is also in the works. The Chicago Coalition of Household Workers (formerly known as the Latino Union), who partnered with Hull-House on the exhibition, is currently working to get a<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/nannies-and-housecleaners-speak-about-abuse-104092">&nbsp;domestic workers bill of rights through the Illinois state legislature.</a></p><p>Curator Heather Radke says that was an important goal of the show&rsquo;s collaborators (which range from labor organizers to individual artists): to make sure this kind of work is not just well-paid &nbsp;but well understood, especially as a labor of love.There are critical views of contemporary politics as well. A chalkboard inviting ideas about food justice contrasts the collective organizing of early reformers against contemporary desires to &quot;buy our way to social change&quot; by frequenting farmers&#39; markets or selecting fair trade products.</p><p>All of the elements that make <em>21<sup>st</sup> Century Home Economics </em>so inviting and successful &ndash;&nbsp;its busy, inquisitive, interactive, and community-focused approach &ndash; are hallmarks of every exhibition put on by the staff at Hull House. That the museum isn&#39;t content just to be a repository for the good deeds and material possessions of Jane Addams, but functions as a lively, of-the-moment community space, is thanks to the vision and leadership of Lisa Yun Lee.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6812_lisa%20lee-scr_0.jpg" style="height: 375px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="Lisa Yun Lee" /></div><p>Lee became director at the museum in late 2006, after founding <em>The Public Square</em> event series at the Illinois Humanities Council. And in just six short years, she&#39;s led a radical make-over of the museum. For Lee that mission was almost a historical imperative.</p><p>&quot;In this 21st century moment, if you want to know historic facts or figures there&#39;s really no reason why you&#39;d need to go to a physical space,&quot; she said. &quot;The Internet has that kind of information for you.&quot;</p><p>Instead Lee thinks a museum needs to be &quot;about the cultural, social and political relationships you have or want to have not just with history but with other people, and yourself.&quot;</p><p>So at Hull House, people come together not just to preserve history but to preserve jam, hold pot lucks, or debate politics. The museum has convened public discussions of trending topics like the cultural phenomenon of sports star Jeremy Lin (full disclosure: I moderated the event), conducted workshops on how to interact with law enforcement, and invited artists to invent alternative histories for some of the museum&rsquo;s artifacts. They also run a farm and an art lending library.</p><p>Lee said the diverse programming reflects a shared sense among her staff that &quot;museum making is an artistic practice.&quot;</p><p>But now Lee is moving on. This month she steps down as director at Hull House Museum to lead UIC&rsquo;s School of Art and Art History. There she&#39;ll lead a year-long reorganization of the school. But she&#39;ll also continue her efforts to create a &quot;vibrant public sphere.&quot; Lee noted that &quot;art, art history, museums, are rarified elitist things historically. But they&#39;ve also been sites of revolution and subversion. It&#39;s just a matter of finding new ways of talking about and communicating that to people.&quot;</p><p><em>&#39;Unfinished Business: 21 Century Home Economics&#39; is at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum through November 2013.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-12/home-economics-radical-roots-domestic-labor-104323 The birth of Hull House http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/birth-hull-house-102429 <p><p>Jane Addams was the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. She started earning the prize on September 18, 1889. That was her first day at Hull House.</p><p>Addams was born in 1860, the youngest daughter of a wealthy family from northwest Illinois. While on a visit to London she was impressed by the Toynbee Hall settlement house. This was a new concept in charity. In the past, concerned people might visit poor neighborhoods and do works of mercy during the day, then return to their own middle-class homes at night.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/9-18--Hull%20House%20grounds%2C%201910.jpg" title="Hull House, 1910 (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>The settlement idea was different &ndash; the &ldquo;social workers&rdquo; would actually live among those they were trying to help. Addams thought the idea would work in Chicago. She had recently inherited $50,000 on the death of her father. In the spring of 1889, with her friend Ellen Gates Starr, Addams set out trying to put her plan into action.</p><p>She decided to locate on the Near West Side. During a scouting trip in the area of Halsted and Polk, Addams noticed an old brick mansion that had seen better days. This was the onetime residence of Charles J. Hull, now owned by his niece. The niece agreed to lease the property rent-free, so the grateful Addams named the settlement Hull House.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-18--kids%2C%201908.jpg" title="Neighborhood kids at the settlement, 1908 (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>The idea of two well-bred, upper-crust young ladies setting up housekeeping in a notorious slum caused some consternation, and some amusement. Addams and Starr did have to do some adjusting. On their first night, they forgot to lock one of the doors &ndash; in fact, they left it wide open. When they woke up the next day, and found nothing was missing, Addams took it as a hopeful sign for the future.</p><p>Hull House was a success. The people of the neighborhood came to accept Addams and Starr. Within a short time the settlement offered medical care, a dining room, bathhouse, library, gymnasium, lodging for about 20 women, night school for adults and the city&rsquo;s first kindergarten. The property eventually had thirteen separate buildings, plus a summer camp in the country.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-18--Jane%20Addams%2C%201927.jpg" title="Jane Addams, 1927 (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>Jane Addams died in 1935, Ellen Gates Starr five years later. During the 1960s, most of the settlement buildings were razed for the UIC campus, but the original mansion remains as a museum. The Jane Addams Hull House Association continued the work of its founder until this past January, when it ceased operations.</p></p> Tue, 18 Sep 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/birth-hull-house-102429 Truth in numbers: Former gang members discuss the reality of Chicago's rising homicide numbers http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/truth-numbers-former-gang-members-discuss-reality-chicagos-rising-homicide-numbers <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Vice%20Lords.jpeg" title="(Photo courtesy of Bobby Gore)" /></div></div><p>Last weekend was a bloody one: More than 50 shootings were reported, nearly 20 percent of those were fatal. Summer after summer, Chicagoans are consumed by violence and a seemingly exponential murder rate. And, it seems, summer after summer, we talk about the need for whole families, better education, jobs and police boots on the ground&mdash;yet, the cycle continues.</p><p>Neighborhoods on the city&rsquo;s South and West sides have been hardest hit by homicides&mdash;the concentration of crime is typical; and while crime, overall, is down, homicides are on the rise. Last year, between January and May, there were 144 homicides; this year, there were 208. Last year, 56 of the 144 victims were in their 20s; this year, 103. These areas have been likened to a war zone. In fact, if it was a war zone, it would be deadlier than Afghanistan.</p><p>According to the Department of Defense and FBI data, 2,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. During that same period of time, more than 5,000 Chicagoans were killed.</p><p>Estimates put Chicago&rsquo;s gang population at roughly 70,000 members. But experts say these once organized, structured groups have splintered. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the &quot;fracturing&quot; of larger gangs into smaller ones has doubled the number of factions and conflicts. And former gang member Benny Lee agrees&mdash;there&rsquo;s a total lack of accountability on the streets.</p><p>When Lee was a young leader in the Vice Lords, there were older members keeping him in check. Because even though he was running his own crew, the Apache Vice Lords, his Geronimo-inspired sect was still a part of the greater Vice Lord nation. But eventually Lee found himself in and out of jail. And each time he returned, his Austin neighborhood was a little worse. The older Vice Lords who kept him&mdash;and the community&mdash;in check were gone. And so were the resources.</p><p>Lee has tried to be a resource for the men in his family and community. He serves as a community liaison and reentry specialist for TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) and founded the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated Mentor Program. He&rsquo;s also a professor at Northeastern University in the Center for Inner City Studies.</p><p>Lee has a lot in common with Eddie Bocanegra. Both men worked as violence interrupters with CeaseFire. Bocanegra was featured in the award-winning documentary, <em>The Interrupters</em>. Lee and Bocanegra joined <em>Afternoon Shift</em> for a frank discussion about the rise in violence, strategies to quell it and the realities of life as an ex-offender.</p><p>Lee&rsquo;s story is featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Hull House Museum: &quot;<a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/cvl/index.html#!Home/mainPage" target="_blank">Report to the Public: An untold story of the Conservative Vice Lords</a>&quot; opens June 22.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jun 2012 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/truth-numbers-former-gang-members-discuss-reality-chicagos-rising-homicide-numbers Hull House staffers surprised by early closing http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-27/hull-house-staffers-surprised-early-closing-95884 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-27/home_girlsreading.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Friday evening will mark the end of an era in Chicago, when The <a href="http://www.hullhouse.org/" target="_blank">Jane Addams Hull House</a> will officially close its doors at 5:00 p.m. In 1889 Jane Addams created Hull House. According to Addams, the purpose of Hull House was to, &quot;aid in the solutions of life in a great city, [and] to help our neighbors build responsible, self-sufficient lives for themselves and their families.&quot;</p><p>Addams received a lot of help--monetarily speaking and otherwise--throughout the years. However, after years of declining donations, Hull House has been forced to shut its doors.<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by the Hull House Association&#39;s board chairman, Stephen Saunders, to find out what is next for Hull House. But before addressing the future, Hull House volunteer coordinator Mark <span dir="ltr" id=":1el">Tisdahl</span> joined the conversation to ask Saunders--what happened? Many employees said they, like many community members, were surprised to learn that Hull House would be closing its doors earlier than expected.</p></p> Fri, 27 Jan 2012 14:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-27/hull-house-staffers-surprised-early-closing-95884