What a difference a year makes

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It was a little over year ago that I was finally allowed meet my niece, Kylie Ann Kozlowski. She had a rough first year because she was born 4 months premature and had to a bunch of surgeries before being able to come home and endure one of Chicago’s worst winters ever.

Kylie Ann Kozlowski Thanks You

She’s a tough little lady and we’re very proud of her. This picture was taken around her first birthday.


Screening: Growing Your Own

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Screening: Growing Your Own

Growing Your Own is a collaboration between The CG Project and People Made Visible to get more young people excited about gardening by showing video projects that promote creativity, resourcefulness and fun in Growing Your Own. The film screening will take place at the West Chicago Community Center during Blooming Fest on May 21.

The goal of Growing Your Own is to raise funds and recruit volunteers for a Community Garden that is set to begin in late May. Local filmmakers from a variety of genres have been invited to submit work on the theme of Growing Your Own and the collection will be presented during Blooming Fest.

Audience members will have the opportunity to reserve a plot for the Community Garden, take work home from the featured filmmakers and contribute to a fresh, new community building experience in West Chicago.

Wayne and Helen Fox Center

306 Main Street – West Chicago, IL 60185-2839

Saturday, May 21, 2011 – 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

About the Films:
Groundswell Educational Films was the first to respond with 2 webisodes that are building up to a feature film called Food Patriots.

Columbia film student and Viva Documentary member, Orion Pahl, also contributed a short film about Humble Parquito.

ThePatioGardeners on Youtube have agreed to share some videos with us.

Grant Guiliano is sharing Part 1 of his ongoing series about the UMASS Permaculture Program.

Mary Horan is sending a short doc about a chicken lady in Chicago.

Mother’s Day at Mumford Garden

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Osito speaks for himself in this episode. We were inspired by the Ultimate Dog Tease and a video by Stephanie Douglass to make a video of Osito talking. We considered doing ADR or voice over for him but found that his sounds were way more compelling than any voice we could do.

We broke ground at the Mumford Garden on May 8, 2011. This will be our training ground for the Community Garden that we’re developing in West Chicago with People Made Visible.

There was a lot of tough labor in this episode, so we didn’t have much time to talk.

Out of the Shadows in the Suburbs

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As I rush home through traffic, I’m constantly driving past great things that are happening in Chicago. It’s seldom that I stop to see a friend, check out a shop or even snap a picture. This afternoon, a different route home and a small detour rewarded me with an experience that I couldn’t have witnessed in the comfort of my home.

Nuestra Voz is a non-profit, youth-driven organization that helps promote education among Latinos in the Western Suburbs. They fully support the rights of undocumented students and believe that they deserve to continue their education, regardless of immigration status.

On April 20, five brave students stood atop a flatbed truck and sent their message throughout the streets of Melrose Park. “I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic!” Their testimonials were reminiscent of ones I’d heard in the past but hearing the same story from a new batch of students in the same situation is even more moving. It warms my heart to see them invoke Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Union and I find comfort in the fact that their attitudes and  slogans are more confident than they have ever been.

Arianna's intervied for the nightly news

However, the moment that stuck with me the most was when the mother of a young organizer took the stage. Children make their parents proud everyday but this mother took the mic to express that she was envious of her daughter for being able to stand up in a way that she could never have the courage to do. Arianna is clearly a fierce young woman and I’m glad that she’s pushing for the DREAM Act.

On a day when high school students across the country are smoking the afternoon away, Arianna and Nuestra Voz were standing in the cold to support students that believe in the importance of higher education. Tell me what the crime is in this situation.

Photos of the event can be seen at Catch Photo

You have to start somewhere.

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I figure the first post to this project should be an explanation of how it came about. My wife and I have been working artists for a few years now and, while our views differ widely on questions of what makes a body of work interesting or what we find aesthetically pleasing, we agree that the creative pursuit is a positive life choice and that art has the potential to teach us each something about ourselves through the point of view of another.

Amongst the budget battles of 2011, with long-standing pillars of the art community being targeted for massive cuts, Diana and I had a series of conversations about what our careers would look like if NEA grants aren’t a possibility for her work and I could never have a doc play on PBS. Scarier than that thought, what about all the grants, residencies, and exhibition opportunities that rely on the NEA, NEH, PBS and NPR to survive? What if they were all to collapse, cut back or accept more aggressive sponsorships?

We hope that you’ll join us in our vision of a society where Art remains both appreciated and accessible. We value art for the thought, craft and perseverance that it demands above everything else. We appreciate artists that aren’t afraid to let their art overtake their lives but still find ways to function in our world while creating work that challenges the audience.

We love audiences that understand the courage that it takes to put yourself on display for the world to critique and will reciprocate that courage by paying attention, allowing our ideas to mingle with yours and more importantly, to take the brave step of spreading the word about good work when you see it.

Thank you,

Mario C