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.
The Authors Circle demands accountability while embracing empathy, engages participants to work in teams and independently as they build pro-social behaviors that are the foundation for success in education, the workplace and relationships. The process transforms participants; their final published pieces are used to train teachers, police, and develop empathy, policy and solutions based on real-life experiences of violence and trauma.
The ConTextos Authors Circle was developed in collaboration with young people experiencing, navigating, surviving complex traumas in El Salvador. In 2017, this innovative program expanded into Chicago to create tangible, high quality opportunities that nourish the minds. expand the voices and share the personal truths of individuals who have long been underserved and underestimated. Through the process of drafting, revising, and publishing memoirs, participants strengthen self-reflection, critical thinking, camaraderie and positive self-projection to author new life narratives.
In 2004, the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) was established as a 501(c)3. Since its inception, PBMR has served young people and families most impacted by violence, incarceration, and structural inequity. PBMR focuses its work in Chicago’s Back of the Yards and Englewood neighborhoods and also works with youth who are justice-involved, re-entering the community after incarceration, or actively incarcerated.”
Circle of Roses
ConTextos and Chicago CRED are proud to present Circle of Roses, lifting up the stories and insights of women who are too often ignored amidst narratives around Chicago’s on-going violence. These women are more than their worst experiences. In Nature, roses appear delicate; however, they are resilient with a beauty that breaks through. The same can be said about the magnificent bouquet of Black women who comprise the Circle of Roses. Their lives are complex and complicated as they survive, flourish, and raise the future all at the very same time.
“There is no greater agony than leaving an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou
Into A Black Beyond
In 2020, ConTextos launched Into a Black Beyond (IABB) Authors Circle Fellowship, a unique writing experience that emerged from raw and untapped emotion—rage fueled by frustration, righteously held indignation, apathy and indifference as the result of too many promises that have long gone unmet. IABB grew out of the languishing and thriving that coexists across the Americas, throughout these United States, and especially here in our Sweet Home Chicago, once a mecca for Black progress, now also a symbol of Black pain. And also it also grew out of hope, a force that has historically moved Black people forward. These emotions and much more so deeply held are contained within Black stories and Black history.
IABB invites an array of Black Chicagoans—homegrown and transplants—from diverse professions, educational backgrounds, identities, familial structures and communities, and across generations to engage in meaningful dialogue and writing meant to capture a range of Black ideas, Black experiences, and Black voices in Chicago.
IABB provides a dedicated space to acknowledge, respect, and evolve beyond traumatic memories and experiences, to build a bridge beyond Black Chicago’s dystopias and paradoxes, and into the next dimensions of our future.
Complicating the Narrative: A Podcast Series
ConTextos is excited to announce the launch of Complicating the Narrative, a podcast series produced by Authors who have published through different ConTextos Authors Circles across Chicago. Complicating the Narrative was conceived with the intention of bringing voices that are often overlooked or suppressed to the foreground. Through this podcast, we seek to add context beyond the misconceptions commonly associated with people living in communities impacted by violence.
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.
Authors present their final work at Publication Celebrations to an audience of friends and family, as well as leaders and policy-makers in the community, business, law-enforcement and government sectors. These events launch ongoing dialogue to inform solutions based on real-life experiences of violence and trauma, to complicate narratives, break down stigmas, and identify how to heal communities.