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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Share Your South Shore Stories At A Community Chat Wednesday

Historian John Mark Hansen will join longtime resident Barbara Jackson Lee for a virtual chat about South Shore's storied past at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, as seen in July 2019.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH SHORE — Neighbors can explore the history of South Shore at a virtual talk headlined by historian and University of Chicago professor John Mark Hansen this week.

Hansen, who published the book “The City in a Garden” about Hyde Park and Kenwood in December, will share his stories about South Shore.

Hansen will be joined by Barbara Jackson Lee, a 40-year resident of Chappel Avenue; other speakers are to be determined. They will discuss everything from architecture to personal experiences to the neighborhood’s history of community organizing.

After the speakers, attendees will have the opportunity to share and discuss their knowledge of South Shore.

You can register for the free event online. It starts 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Wednesday’s conversation is organized by the Bryn Mawr East area council, which serves the area bounded by 71st and 75th streets and Jeffery and Yates boulevards. Area councils are resident groups of 40 or so blocks that formed the backbone of community organizing in South Shore decades ago.

“Since school went back [in session], we said, ‘Why don’t we educate residents about their community?'” council president April Williams-Luster said. “A lot of people know a little bit about the history, but don’t know how South Shore got its name or the different celebrities and people that have lived in the neighborhood.”

The Neighborhood Network Alliance, a South Shore-based nonprofit, has led the effort to restart the area councils and encourage engagement around education, health, economic and other quality of life issues.

A few dozen neighbors came out March 3 for the reboot of the Bryn Mawr East council. Just two weeks later, before another meeting could be held, the stay at home order went into effect.

Despite the adjustments required by the pandemic, the council has continued to gain its footing. Elections were held in July, and a virtual talk on property tax appeals and renters’ rights was held Aug. 19.

There will be a public safety conversation in October, a talk on financial literacy in November and a competition among blocks to see who has the best holiday decorations in December.

The series lets people know the area council “is doing something; that we’re not an organization just in name only,” Williams-Luster said.

Bryn Mawr East council members are also seeking “block liaisons” to inform residents of their blocks about the council, and vice versa. Interested residents within council’s boundaries are encouraged to reach out to

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