May 23rd 2018

In the dark times, will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing.
About the dark times.
~~Bertolt Brecht

In December, 2017 we held the inaugural gathering of a public discussion group designed to open a space for serious and challenging conversation in these troubling days: Singing in Dark Times.

Our next creation of this unique public space—Singing in Dark Times IIII— will assemble on May 23, 2018 at 6 pm at the legendary 57th Street Bookstore.

Therese Quinn, Lauren De Jesus, Chelsea Ridley, and Bill Ayers will open the conversation, but the key to a great exchange is for folks to show up ready to practice the fragile art of dialogue: speaking up with the hope of being heard, and listening hard with the possibility of being changed.

Lauren De Jesus is a PuertoRuvian Latina from the Northwest side of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a current graduate student at the University of Illinois-Chicago in the Museum and Exhibition Studies program and is the current Publication Coordinator for Fwd: Museums Journal.

Therese Quinn is from Sacramento, didn’t love Ladybird, and directs the Museum and Exhibition Studies graduate program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chelsea Ridley is a soon-to-be-graduate of the Museum and Exhibition Studies graduate program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a cat lover, and a strong believer in the power of museums to be agents of social change just not in their current form.

Dialogue-starters this year have included Eve Ewing, Rachel DeWoskin, Kevin Coval, Lisa Lee, David Stovall, Monica Trinidad, and Ethan Viets-VanLear. Each evening has been packed with new ideas, powerful passion, and generative connections as people have worked to make sense and make meaning of our lives and our work—to shine a bright beacon of hope and possibility into the gloom. We continue to consider a question that persistently drives activists and organizers, teachers and parents, citizens and residents: What is to be done?

As the public is being steadily eroded and eclipsed, and as neoliberalism persists and fascism lurks close by, the goal of those of us who believe in freedom is to take full responsibility to reimagine, revitalize, and create anew a public square, a public presence, and a wide range of participatory public spaces.

An impressive array of wildly diverse artists and grass-roots activists are on the move and on the rise—resistance is breaking out all over. In Chicago, a cinema guild is running a series of films on authoritarianism followed by wide ranging teach-ins on the political environment we find ourselves in; the Co-op hosted a series of conversation led by U Chicago professors investigating contemporary issues under the banner “Free University of Chicago;” and Women and Children First’s “The Conversation” brings writers, artists, and politicians together to talk about an issue of political, social, or cultural importance. Elsewhere, a chain of restaurants in Detroit calling themselves “Sanctuary Cafes” is offering weekly facilitated conversations (as well as bail to neighbors caught up in the system); a collection of renowned playwrights has joined forces to dramatize the Bill of Rights; block clubs around the country are hosting monthly pot-luck dinners to allow folks to face one another authentically and figure out what is to be done.

The Seminary Co-op/57th St. Bookstores in Hyde Park, Chicago, has always been a destination bookstore and a vital public space. Please join this intentional community-in-the-making on May 23, 2018 at 6 pm as we reimagine the public square—the essential conversation continues.

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