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.

Publication Celebration

Publishing is what allows a writer to become an Author. Final text drafts and illustrated galleys are published as beautiful books (available both physical and digital) which can be read by people near and far, thereby influencing hearts and informing perspectives.
At Publication Celebrations, Authors present their final works to their friends, family and the general public.

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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July 24, 2019

Salon Speaker: José Olivarez

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was a finalist for the prestigious PEN/ Jean Stein Award…

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July 24, 2019

Salon Speaker: Alex Kotlowitz

For September’s Salon brought in Alex Kotlowitz, a writer, journalist, and storyteller. He is the author of four books, including his most recent, An American…

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November 12, 2020

ConTextos & IMAN Virtual Publication Event

With continued support from Chicago CRED, ConTextos launched and led another successful Authors Circle with The Inner-City Muslim Action Network’s (IMAN) Green ReEntry program.

With the onset of COVID, we quickly pivoted from our traditional writing circles to incorporating digital imagery and storytelling, co-producing a documentary about their lives during this time of COVID, racial reckoning and summer 2020. We are excited to share their journeys and celebrate their efforts to transform their lives, break cycles and push forward despite setbacks.

Register to receive the link to privately view the film at your leisure between November 9 – 13. Be sure to join us on Thursday, November 12 for a panel discussion with IMAN Authors and ConTextos facilitators via Zoom from 7-8pm. We’ll take a look at select clips from the documentary, hear directly from IMAN Authors and take questions from those in attendance.

If you have any questions about the event email us at chicago@eks.a0c.myftpupload.com.

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