The Frunchroom, Volume X: Summer break edition

Hey folks, we’ve been a bit lax in getting the word out for next week’s Frunchroom, but it’s only because it takes a little more time to put together a super-sized lineup – and that’s what we have for you.

For July 20th, we will break with our traditional format and feature seven readers, instead of five, with two readers teaming up as a duo.

The next show will be at 730pm on Thursday, July 20th at Beverly Woods (11532 S Western Ave.)

We always try to have an eclectic mix of readers, but this will be something we’ve never done before not just in featuring two more readers than usual, but also having the two of them work as a team. We have a former Chicago mayoral candidate, the director of the Chicago Writers Studio, a ninth grade English teacher, a ChicagoNow blogger and a “cultural anthropologist.”

In addition, we’ve invited Nareman Taha and Itedal Shalabi, the co-founders of Arab-American Family Services in nearby Bridgeview, both of whom were raised on the South Side, to read as a duo. Though you won’t see them on the posters, when we met them during a recent protest they led against an elected official in nearby Palos Township who posted anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media, we knew their story had to be told at our next show. We talk about how, as a city, there is more that unites us than divides us. Their story – touching on immigration, starting a business and finding your niche – speaks to a lot of South Siders’ experiences.

As usual, we will have a mix of South Side storytelling, art and cocktails. Our artist-in-residence for July is Mathias Shergen. He’s a retired Golden Apple art teacher that taught Jenner Academy of the Arts decades.

We continue to produce this show at Beverly Woods in partnership with The Beverly Area Arts Alliance, the organization responsible for local arts events like The Beverly Art Walk, the Uprising Craft Market and Local Art on Tap.

Without further ado, the readers for July’s show are:

  • Amara Eniya, a public policy consultant who serves as the President of Blue 1647, an entrepreneurship and technology innovation center, is the Executive Director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce and serves as Policy Director for the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. She also ran for mayor of Chicago in 2015.
  • Cole Lavalais, a Chicago native who has called Beverly home for the last twenty years and whose first novel, Summer of the Cicadas, debuted in May of last year. She is the founder/director of the Beverly-based Chicago Writers Studio.
  • Kathleen Leahy, a native South Sider who has a Master’s degree in Education and teaches in Roseland. Her writing tends to focus on mental health, class mobility, and Midwestern family dynamics.
  • Lyletta Robinson, who has authored the ChicagoNow blog “I Hate My Developer” since 2005, which discusses a mixture of Woodlawn neighborhood issues, personal and unemployment stories along with South Side observations. She describes herself as “an opinionated woman with a gardening problem.”
  • Ernest Wilkins, is a “cultural anthropologist” at Red Bull Media House and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in GQ, Pitchfork and Deadspin. Previously, he was a reporter and producer for Chicago Tribune’s RedEye where he served as Chicago’s Wingman from 2011 to 2015.
  • Nareman Taha and Itedal Shalabi, the co-founders and co-executive directors of Arab-American Family Services, a non-profit social service agency. Since 2001, AAFS has served as a catalyst for social change by actively seeking to confront the myths and taboos that have kept some Arab Americans from obtaining the assistance they need. They both grew up on the South Side of Chicago.

See you on July 20th – This Thursday! – at Beverly Woods at 730pm.

Photos: Holly Donovan

About Scott Smith

Chicagoan, husband, father, writer.
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