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2017 - January Letter from Director




January, 2017


Dear Students,


As you go into the challenges of finals week, know that your teachers believe in you, want to hear about and support your dreams, and trust in your strength.


On top of your individual work, these are times when the levels of stress and distrust in our civic life are also overwhelming.  We are living in a time when division, racism, and fear run strong, and it can seem that solidarity and resistance won’t be enough to counter the power of hatred.  It is a natural reaction to avoid thinking about, to consider accepting, unjust realities, just to try to cope in a confusing world.


But just as every day news stories come that signal another blow to democratic life, every day new acts of defiance and opportunities for change arise.  It is important to plug into these currents of hope: healthy democratic life is not out of reach, but it does require focused engagement, and especially the brave leadership of young people.


Many, many people have brought their creativity and fire into public spaces, with actions that build civic trust.  We share as many of these actions as we can find on the Civic Engagement site for public events, so that you have a rich variety of opportunities – artistic, political, educational, etc. -- to sustain your hope and build your vision.  Many actions are focused on responding to Trump’s Inauguration by expressing solidarity with Muslims and immigrants, resistance to homophobia and threats to women’s rights, voting rights, and other foundations of democracy.  Participating in actions is a great way to meet people and get more involved with organizations shoring up democratic life in Chicago.   


Incredible events are planned in Chicago for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, from the Polar Peace March here in Lincoln Park (you can sign up here to participate – with or without a donation) to counter gun violence, to IMAN’s Chicago-Atlanta Fighting Fear/Building Power event at the Harold Washington Cultural Center.  We keep a list here and welcome your contributions to this list and to our general events list. 


We'll continue to keep you informed about opportunities for civic engagement.  If you have ideas for actions, questions, or are looking for resources, please email me or come by.  


With much respect,

Shanti Elliott


Director of Civic Engagement 

Francis W. Parker School 

330 W. Webster Avenue 

Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 797-5402