Food Deserts

July 15th, 2009

On a hot Chicago summer day, sometimes there is nothing sweeter than biting into a juicy peach or watermelon. Most of us can buy these summer-time treats at our neighborhood grocer – or, if we’re lucky – at one of the city’s many farmer’s markets.

But for residents living in some south and west side neighborhoods, grocery stores are few and far between. These food deserts deprive residents of nutritious food choices and healthy eating habits.

Earlier this year Mari Gallagher’s, Research & Consulting Group in Chicago released a study on food deserts. The study identified over 600,000 Chicagoans living with distant or no grocery stores nearby. The report also stated that people living in these food deserts were more likely to suffer from diet related diseases and premature death.

But even at our favorite corner store, finding affordable, fresh produce can be difficult.

These obstacles drove some residents to create their own community gardens – such as Graffiti and Grub. Created by parent and activist La Donna Redmond, the organization is located between two food deserts in Washington Park and Englewood. Graffiti and Grub is one community-based solution to food deserts.

On this episode of Community Media and You, we’ll talk with La Donna and her partner Wil Seegars about Graffiti and Grub’s beginnings and other Chicago food deserts.

Low Power FM Radio

July 14th, 2009

In a shifting media landscape, the way we get our news is changing. More people go online to listen to podcasts and read blogs, as opposed to accessing traditional news sources.

The platform for telling your story is changing too. Even as corporate media such as daily newspapers and broadcast outlets shrink their news staff, public access to the airwaves is diminishing. For community organizations who never had big pr or advertising budgets, the challenge of getting one’s story out is even greater.

The need to preserve the public space left on the air is more critical than ever. One channel community organizations can use–besides the one you’re watching–is Low Powered FM radio.

On this episode of Community Media and You, we’ll talk with Silvia Rivera and Mitchell Szczepanczyk about Low Power radio options. Silvia is general manager of Radio Arte a bi-lingual community based radio station serving the Pilsen area. Mitchell is the creator of Chicago Media Action, a group dedicated to broadening independent radio in Chicago.

Campaigns to Fight Asthma in the Home and Environment

July 14th, 2009

Perhaps you’ve driven past one of Chicago’s coal-burning plants while traveling on the expressway. A reminder of Chicago’s industrial roots, these coal-burning plants are still in operation after over one-hundred years.

While the factories feed Chicago’s electrical supply, the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization believes they exacerbate respiratory disease among Pilsen and Little Village residents.

Similarly, Sinai Urban Health Institute, says children in Lawndale are at a higher risk of getting asthma than north-side children.

Organizers of Sinai’s “Healthy Home, Healthy Child” initiative say household pests, mold and cleaning supplies are the culprits. Their recently launched educational program will make in-home visits to North Lawndale families – helping parents identify asthma triggers before respiratory problems start.

So as the numbers rise, what can we do to protect our families from respiratory disease? And how soon will asthma be a problem for all Chicago residents?

On this episode of Community, Media & You, we’ll hear more about Chicago’s asthma problem from Dorian Breuer of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization and Melissa Gutierrez from the Sinai Urban Health Institute.

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Community Media and You is produced in partnership with CAN TV and can be seen Saturdays at 8pm on cable channel CAN TV21 in Chicago.”

CAN TV provides coverage of events relevant to the local community and gives every Chicagoan a voice on cable television by providing video training, facilities, equipment, and channel time for Chicago residents and nonprofit groups. Cable channels CAN TV19, 21, 27, 35 and 42 reach more than one million cable viewers in Chicago.

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