Archive | ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE!

[lang_en]2nd Annual ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! Parranda on Paseo Boricua[/lang_en]

Posted on 05 January 2009 by alejandro


Humboldt Park community residents gathered at Batey Urbano (2620 W. Division) to prepare for one of Puerto Rico’s most cherished cultural traditions. This tradition, which has taken place for over a century in Puerto Rico, has finally made its way onto the streets of the chilly Windy City.

Despite the wicked wind, nearly 100 people came out to participate in the 2nd annual ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! Parranda on Paseo Boricua on December 20. The sounds of panderetas, tamboriles, güiros, maracas and palitos unleashed into the eardrums of everyone on Paseo Boricua.

The Parranda visited Paseo Boricua businesses such as Café Colao, La Bruquena, Yauco Liquors, Latin American, Lily’s Record Shop, La Plena, Luquillo Barbershop, and Papa’s Cache. It ended at the Teresa Roldán Apartments on Paseo Boricua, where the building residents and all who participated in retaining the holiday spirit were welcomed to dance, sing, drink hot chocolate, play dominoes, and eat a delicious Puerto Rican meal. All in all, old man winter could not ruin our Caribbean ritual as it turns out that the spiritual warmth inside of all Puerto Ricans proved more powerful. Organized by the ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! campaign, which is a project of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, with support from Alderman Billy Ocasio (26th Ward) the parranda was yet another example of how important it is to maintain our culture as we fight against gentrification and in the process, keep our traditions strong for future generations.[/lang_en]

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Internationally Renown Artist Installs Permanent Mosaic at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

Posted on 28 October 2008 by alejandro


Internationally recognized artist Manny Vega made a unique visit to Chicago last week to install an original 19-foot mosaic in the courtyard of the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (IPRAC).  Mosaics are one of Puerto Rico’s most fundamental traditional art forms.  The finished mosaic will be on permanent display at IPRAC.

Vega, known for his public art projects in New York City, constructed the mosaic in his New York studio and shipped the piece to Chicago.  It is constructed of granite, marble and slate tiles.  In the center of the mosaic, is a map of Puerto Rico surrounded by symbolic representations of Puerto Rican life and culture.

“This mosaic is a reflection of all the things that make us who we are – the music, the culture even the nature,” says Vega.  “I am honored to have my work become a part of the rich history of the Chicago Puerto Rican community.”

IPRAC hosted on-site workshops and visits from youth and schoolchildren of the community during the installation.  Students from neighboring Roberto Clemente Community Academy’s Radio/Television Program filmed the installation as part of a documentary about IPRAC and its historic location in the former Humboldt Park Stable.

The Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (IPRAC) is an arts and educational institution devoted to the promotion, integration and advancement of Puerto Rican arts and culture.  IPRAC has been bringing visual arts and exhibition programming and arts education workshops to the community since 2001 and is nearing the completion of the interior renovation of the historic Humboldt Park Stables.  Once open, IPRAC will be the only museum in the nation dedicated to Puerto Rican arts and culture.  The museum will be home to a permanent collection of works created exclusively by Puerto Rican artists and will offer a year-round exhibition program, an oral histories program, a lecture series, educational workshops, a film series, an annual fine arts and crafts festival, art instruction and performing arts presentations.[/lang_en]

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Fijate: What does “Yo Soy Boricua” Mean?

Posted on 06 June 2008 by admin

Some might say that if you look-up the word “pride” in the dictionary what you will find is a picture of an exuberant Puerto Rican holding our one-stared flag attached to a six-foot stick. And if the picture could speak, it would be yelling “BORICUA!!!” Some might say this with a smile or rolling their eyes, but we could care less, because according to us there is something about being Puerto Rican that one who isn’t could ever understand. Puerto Ricans sometimes don’t understand pride ourselves, which can be dangerous. If we learn about our pride, our history, our identity, even partially only, then can we understand our obligation as Puerto Ricans to our fellow compatriots. If we really know who we are, then we could stop the crisis that is swallowing our community – before it is too late.

“How do you expect Puerto Ricans to move back here?” says Manuel Saldaña, 20, rhetorically, pounding his fist on a table, holding a list of phone numbers for vacant apartments in front of him. As he turns to look at me, his sky blue eyes reveals his frustration and a searches for answers, I wonder if we are reaching our last days as a Puerto Rican Humboldt Park.

Manuel had spent the day walking the inner blocks of a community that he once walked everyday, in search for a way to return home from a life of displacement. When he came from the island as a child, he lived in this ‘pedacito de patria,’ but like many other children of Borinquen, moved west to Belmont-Craigan. However, while yearning for the sights and sounds of this concrete tropical homeland, he realized that it is simply too expensive to return. When asked why he wanted to come back, he simply said, “Because I’m Puerto Rican.”

It is not to say “ya se nos vendieron” as some might comment cynically, masking their feelings of hopelessness in the name of “keeping it real” (When has cynicism produced anything positive or helpful?). Humboldt Park is still full of affordable rentals, homeownership programs, and even affordable condos for those who do want to return, but they are dwindling. Puerto Ricans are still one of the largest groups in East Humboldt Park and our political participation in electoral and community issues is unmatched. But for how long? If you are truly proud to be Boricua, you cannot just visit or show that pride once a year with a visit to the park and a cheer during the parade. If there are no Puerto Ricans living here, then there will be no power to make sure that we can justify having a weeklong fiesta, amongst other cultural and political events, organizations, and programs. Come back and Humboldt Park will welcome you with open arms. Stay and Humboldt Park will be thankful. Participate and Humboldt Park will grow and improve. Leave, and it will be only a few years until new residents have enough power in numbers and votes to make sure we have nothing to come back to. What does “Yo Soy Boricua” mean if there is no community to attach it to?

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Humboldt Park Forever: The Flags Will Never Come Down!

Posted on 17 May 2008 by admin

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Little Puerto Rico—Threatened?

Posted on 17 May 2008 by admin

“No, I hate it. The white people are coming in and it’s getting too expensive to live here.” That is a common response amongst the Humboldt Park community when asked about gentrification, and how it is affecting the community.

The reason many long-time Puerto Rican residents feel resentment toward the white population moving in is because they don’t want to succumb to change and they want to preserve their culture within Humboldt Park. Rafael González, 30, who used to live in Humboldt Park, refers to it as “Little Puerto Rico.” For years the community has worked towards establishing a strong Puerto Rican presence. The fact that condominiums are being built here, slowly flushing out the Puerto Rican residents, is upsetting. Property taxes are rising and the cost of living here is becoming unaffordable.

However, for some the effects of gentrification are not all negative. Some people living in the community are happy to see it improving. They want to see the community thrive and prosper and are happy to see the betterment of its conditions. Residents also like to see gangs being pushed out of the Humboldt Park community, making the streets safer and more comfortable to them.

While some see the effects of gentrification improving the community, residents are unhappy to see the preservation of the Puerto Rican culture sacrificed in order to do so. It all depends on a person’s beliefs and needs. If someone feels threatened walking down the street, then seeing gangs pushed out of the community will be their main priority. Although, that person or group out on the street may not feel threatened, and want to see their friends and family remain in the community.

In order to counteract gentrification, Puerto Ricans and other longtime residents have united in order to ensure that the same would not happen in Humboldt Park that has happened in the Lincoln Park and Wicker Park communities. The Humboldt Park Empowerment Partnership was created out of concern for the Puerto Rican residents being forced to move out due to unaffordable housing and previous attacks on service organizations. As described on their website, in order to stop gentrification, the Humboldt Park Empowerment Zone Strategic Plan was founded in 1996 to uphold the character of the community through programs dealing with cultural traditions, business, and housing.

Whether we like to admit it or not, gentrification is becoming prevalent in the Humboldt Park community. It is up to the community’s residents to ensure that gentrification is stopped, or a peaceful medium is found where the residents can still retain their cultural roots with a condominium here and there.

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Flags of Steel: A Symbol of the Barrio’s Strength – Community members reflect on new documentary

Posted on 17 May 2008 by admin

“Flags of Steel,” a documentary film by Mildred Amador, recently premiered before a packed audience of community leaders, elected officials, Humboldt Park residents, and high school students. For example, Pastor Pedro Windsor of the Capilla del Barrio brought his whole family.

In the film, important Puerto Rican community history is showcased. Pastor Windsor remarked, “This film is a celebration of the history in Humboldt Park. It takes you on a journey and shows you the struggle and the fruit that was born of that struggle.”

The film shows many scenes from the history of Humboldt Park, including the Three Kings parade and the construction of the Paseo Boricua flags on Division Street. “The film showed me that we should be proud of our contribution to our community and our city,” he commented. José Lopez, Ald. Billy Ocasio, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, and other early community residents were shown in the film. News articles and documents were also included.

The most important aspect of the film is its coverage of the struggles of the community. Chris Pérez, a BACCA program student, commented, “The effort that people put into making the flags really showed their dedication to the cause.” Batey Urbano member, Cindy Maldonado pointed out, “This film is important because it relates the reason why they put the flags up. They wanted to make sure that people knew that this was a Puerto Rican neighborhood and that we’re never going to leave.” Pastor Windsor agreed, saying, “The whole film was a historical stream. It told the whole story of our community…”
Xavier Luis Burgos, Outreach Coordinator of the Humboldt Park No Se Vende! campaign, remarked, “This film was selected for viewing because it is about the community, and our community leaders want us to remember our history.” Chris Pérez noted, “Humboldt Park is where the flags are located and for that reason people appreciate the movie more.” This film is about us, and it is important to us. Cindy Maldonado commented, “They were trying to educate people on how the history of Humboldt Park began and educate the people in Humboldt Park about their own history.”

Pastor Pedro said that when he viewed the film, “This is a story of Humboldt Park, past, present, and future. I felt good being who I am in Humboldt Park and seeing how God blessed Humboldt Park.”

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