About Our Work In Chicago

Right now, Chicago is being described as a violent city; We need to change the way our City’s story is told. Violence is not just gunshots and homicide statistics. Trauma is a collective, not individual, experience that ripples through families and neighborhoods. Transactional services that address the root causes of violence are essential: housing, workforce development, education. But we aspire to a bigger solution, where the people of this city, especially those who are underestimated, ignored and more affected by violence, don’t just survive – they thrive.

ConTextos provides the opportunity for people affected by violence to write and publish their personal stories in order to heal as individuals, families, and communities, to build empathy and change assumptions, and to author a new story of Chicago that lifts all voices.

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Chicago Programs

ConTextos uses the power of personal narrative to foster reflection and healing.

Authors Circle

The Authors Circle is a co-created space for exploration and discovery, that uses reading, writing and engaged dialogue as vehicles for transformation. Participants “read as writers” as they draft, revise, illustrate and publish their memoirs. Throughout the process, individuals learn to take and accept critical feedback, improve reading and writing skills, and reflect upon the past to imagine a different future.

Visual Arts

The ConTextos community has grown in so many ways, particularly our creative community and the need to supplement written memoirs with other creative outlets. Our outreach and engagement with Authors and Artists is intended to generate powerful new works focused on equity and justice that marry the potential of the literary and visual arts and spark dialogue across the city, with a focus on South and West side neighborhoods.

Alumni Programs

We recognize that after our youth graduate as Authors they continue to engage in the ConTextos community in order to receive additional support, access additional programming, engage friends, family and the broader community in the healing power of story.

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December 6, 2021

Freedom by Danny Martinez

Close your eyes and count to 10. Better yet, in my case, count to 8. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Now open…

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December 6, 2021

Gold Scars

My friend Kate says everyone she knows is one stuck item in a vending machine away from a total collapse. It’s the most poignant insight…

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