Gerald Hamilton in the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago. (Bill Healy/WBEZ)

Gerald Hamilton in the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago. (Bill Healy/WBEZ)

'Always room for one more'

By Richard Steele, Bill Healy, and Sofi LaLonde

More than 70 foster children have found a home — and a father — at the house of this retired Chicago homicide detective.

Over the past 40 years, Gerald Hamilton has taken in more than 70 foster kids at his South Shore home. Everyone in the neighborhood calls it Hamilton House.

All kinds of young people have stayed with Hamilton: gay, straight, transgender, mothers with newborns, and kids with mental health issues. Many of those who’ve come to live with the former police officer have been in trouble with the law.


Holding on to Home: Puerto Ricans reflect on deciding to stay after the storm

By: Griselda Flores and Sofi LaLonde

We spent a week in Puerto Rico in February reporting about life on the island nearly six months after Hurricane Maria, but found a story that is more complicated and nuanced. This audio diary-style piece features testimonials of three people with very different stories about why they stayed on the island during and after Hurricane Maria, and touches on post-hurricane life, emigration and the colonization of the island. We also asked them what it means to be Puerto Rican in this moment of transition and rebuilding.

Audio in Spanish; English translation available here: bit.ly/2HdlMty

                Pictured above: Saybian Torres. Photos by Bill Healy.


The "Frailty of Strength and Viceversa," by Richard Santiago, will hang at the Humboldt Park Boathouse Gallery until May 25th. (Sofi LaLonde/SJNN)

The "Frailty of Strength and Viceversa," by Richard Santiago, will hang at the Humboldt Park Boathouse Gallery until May 25th. (Sofi LaLonde/SJNN)

Local Puerto Rican artist honors victims of Hurricane Maria with new art installation in Humboldt Park

By Sofi LaLonde

Puerto Rican artist Richard Santiago has found new meaning in his artwork in the months since Hurricane Maria. His latest piece will honor the victims of the hurricane with a pointed criticism of President Trump and the Puerto Rican government.

“After the hurricane, my work was never really the same,” said Santiago.

The piece, ““The Frailty of Strength & Viceversa,” debuted on Friday, May 4th, at the Boathouse Gallery in Humboldt Park.


Mariel Rancel, left, and Lici Rivera, right, of The Union for Puerto Rican Students at The University of Illinois at Chicago, discussing the Pa’Lante conference and symposium on Friday. (Sofi LaLonde/SJNN)

Mariel Rancel, left, and Lici Rivera, right, of The Union for Puerto Rican Students at The University of Illinois at Chicago, discussing the Pa’Lante conference and symposium on Friday. (Sofi LaLonde/SJNN)

Symposium on Puerto Rico at UIC helps build connections between Puerto Ricans in Chicago and on the island

By Sofi LaLonde

Puerto Ricans need to take control of their own future as the island continues to rebuild after Hurricane Maria, said Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in her keynote address at an all-day symposium at The University of Illinois at Chicago on Friday, April 20, exactly seven months after the storm hit the island.

The symposium featured three panels of activists, scholars, artists and filmmakers who discussed colonization, disaster capitalism, the Puerto Rican diaspora and grassroots rebuilding efforts. Yulín Cruz praised the emergency relief efforts of Chicago in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, and said the relationship between Chicago’s Puerto Rican community and the island must remain strong.


Angie stands in front of the window in their three-bedroom apartment in Chicago. She doesn’t know when or if her family can return to Puerto Rico. (Sofi LaLonde/MEDILL)

Angie stands in front of the window in their three-bedroom apartment in Chicago. She doesn’t know when or if her family can return to Puerto Rico. (Sofi LaLonde/MEDILL)

six months after the storm: How two Puerto Rican Women navigate life post-hurricane maria

By Sofi LaLonde & Griselda Flores

“I remember I couldn’t sleep the whole night and day, whatever it was, I don’t even remember like what time it hit and what time it ended. The whole moment is kind of blurry.”

When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, Angie Rosa and her family of four hunkered down in their three-bedroom apartment in Puerta de Tierra, an up-and-coming neighborhood of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, that is experiencing first signs of gentrification. Angie reinforced the apartment’s ocean-facing windows with tape while her husband, Richard, moved their art collection onto their bed and covered it with bed sheets and plastic shower curtains.


Monacillo Power Station in San Juan after the explosion. (Elizabeth Beyer/MEDILL)

Puerto Rico Loses Power Again: Explosion and fire cut electricity to 10 municipalities

Text by Shelby Fleig, Hannah Wiley and Elizabeth Beyer. Audio by Sofi LaLonde and Griselda Flores.

An explosion and fire at the Monacillo power station in San Juan caused power outages across 10 municipalities late at night on Feb. 11, a reminder that even in areas where the grid has been fixed since Hurricane Maria, the island’s electric infrastructure is still precarious and troubled.


By: One Book One Northwestern

By: One Book One Northwestern

Episode 4: Freedom of Speech on campus

Where does your free speech end and everyone else's begin?

Episode 4 of the podcast 'One Book One Northwestern' by the The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and One Book One Northwestern. Reported and produced by Sofi LaLonde.

 


Micaella Verro, a volunteer for Midwest Access Coalition, in her home in Logan Square. (Sofi LaLonde/MEDILL)

Micaella Verro, a volunteer for Midwest Access Coalition, in her home in Logan Square. (Sofi LaLonde/MEDILL)

VOLUNTEERS OPEN THEIR HOMES TO THOSE TRAVELING TO CHICAGO FOR ABORTIONS

A blue state among red states in the Midwest, Illinois is often considered an “oasis” for reproductive health care when it comes to access to abortion. But even with less-restrictive abortion policies, clinics in the state are concentrated in Chicago, leaving gaps in access for women statewide, particularly in southern parts of the state.


WOmen in Southern Illinois must Travel Longer distances to abortion clinics

Women in southern Illinois are disadvantaged when seeking an abortion, according to data on distances to abortion clinics from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy group, published in early October.


Rollback of the birth control mandate, explained

After a summer of uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration on Oct. 6 rolled back an Obama-era regulation that required companies to provide coverage of contraceptive services in their employee health care plans.