Our Guest Speakers in August

We look forward to the two guest speakers who will give presentations to Chicago Kaleidoscopes next month — Toni Asante Lightfoot and Yolanda Bradley-Crocker. Toni is a poet, editor and educator; Yolanda is a holistic lifestyle coach who is involved with Outdoor Afro.

Earlier this month Adonnis Williams from First Defense Legal Aid led a workshop at Mozart Park. We’re grateful for the insights and imagination that Toni, Yolanda and Adonnis are sharing with the teens in our program.




“Dark Goldenrod” by Kayland J.


Dark goldenrod, brighter than gold, yet darker than yellow

Almost like the shade of yellow that resembles the sun

Makes you feel the complete opposite of mellow


The color looks like the smooth playing of the cello

Listen to dark goldenrod as the song is almost done

Dark goldenrod, brighter than gold, yet darker than yellow


The color of an angel’s halo

It makes you feel like you’re the one

Makes you feel the complete opposite of mellow


Like the thoughts of a naïve child, it’s shallow

Dark goldenrod is achieved like a home run

Dark goldenrod, brighter than gold, yet darker than yellow


It’s like a feeling, once you felt it you will know

And then you’ll know that you have won

Makes you feel the complete opposite of mellow


It’s as though you are floating in a bed with your head on a pillow

You’ll thank yourself in the long run

Dark goldenrod, brighter than gold, yet darker than yellow

Makes you feel the complete opposite of mellow



CK Teens Respond to Our Field Trip to Fermilab

We had great time on yesterday’s field trip to Fermilab. Chicago Kaleidoscopes took a bus trip from Mozart Park to Fermilab in Batavia, and we were met by Fermilab staff in front of Wilson Hall. Docents gave us a tour — which included a focus on particle physics, how science has influenced the arts and vice versa (e.g. how James Joyce’s neologism “quark” was chosen by a physicist to name a subatomic particle, how several of our CK sessions included preparations for our field trip (e.g. the “Poetry of Science” conversation with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins), and pop culture connections to what happens at Fermilab (e.g. The Big Bang Theory TV show). The view from the 15th floor of Wilson Hall is extraordinary, with a view of the Main Ring and the Tevatron accelerator, a vista of the surrounding prairie, and the Chicago skyline on the horizon.

Then we took the elevator to the second floor, and we finished our trip to Fermilab by experiencing the On that Note exhibition in the art gallery. We had a musical jam session in the gallery, and then we headed back to the bus for our trip back to Chicago.

Here are some audio tracks of CK teens playing music in the Fermilab Art Gallery and talking about ideas about superpowers that relate to altering laws of physics. Here are audio recordings of short stories that CK teens created in collaborative groups; each of these pieces of short fiction uses Fermilab in an inventive way.

Special thanks to Georgia Schwender, Anne Mary Teichert, Dee Huie, and Kurt Riesselman at Fermilab for helping us with our field trip.





“Sonnet Blue” by Jonathan B.


Sky is full, often past the colorfilled clouds

And is found in the building block of life

Gushing infinite droplets, Roaring sound

Leap off and into the blue cushion, Splice

Reverse head upwards towards emptiness

Away from any social conviction

Traverse the void, Helpful covariance

Place where another can’t hear your diction

Irrelevance, Required sense is sight

Blue, You witness the profound round aura

Objects scrape the horizon, Earth bends light

Life prospers, Land is covered in flora

From naught, To fruition of the blue touch

Hidden underneath it, So much, Too much



Our Collaboration with SRBCC

Our Chicago Kaleidoscopes program involves a collaboration with the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center. CK has been meeting at SRBCC at the beginning of our Monday sessions since the second week of the program, and we will be at SRBCC for two more Mondays (2-4 p.m. on August 3rd and August 10th). Most of Chicago Kaleidoscopes happens at Mozart Park, and we’re grateful that SRBCC has given us the opportunity to have part of our program happen there!

Here are some things that we’ve been doing so far at SRBCC, as well as what we’re planning to do at SRBCC during this Summer 2015 After School Matters program:

  • Reading and writing literature;
  • Learning more about the Bomba ASM program at SRBCC, including listening to the Bomba teens rehearse rhythms and watching the Bomba teens work on dance steps;
  • Interacting with the Bomba class, including going through stretching exercises with them and playing percussion rhythms with them; and
  • Performing and recording audio pieces that combine spoken word and percussion.

In addition to the ASM sessions that we have been doing at SRBCC, we have worked on other activities that investigate connections between creative writing and music. For instance, we read and talked about “The Making of the Drum” by Kamau Brathwaite, “Jazz Fan Looks Back” by Jayne Cortez, and part of “Bop” by Langston Hughes. Check out these audio recordings of CK teens that include on connections between poetry and percussion.


teens in Bomba and CK classes playing percussion
teens in Bomba and CK classes playing percussion

Our Field Trip to Fermilab

We’re getting ready for our field trip to Fermilab, which happens next Wednesday. Our field trip also includes a walk through the Fermilab Art Gallery; the On that Note visualization of music exhibition is currently on display in the gallery. One of the purposes of this field trip is to explore meaningful connections between the arts and science.

Chicago Kaleidoscopes looks at key aspects of Chicago’s identity via creative writing, and one aspect of this city is the scientific research that happens in the Chicago area. Italian born physicist Enrico Fermi taught at the University of Chicago; in 1942 Fermi created the first controlled nuclear reaction at UC.

Really looking forward to this field trip!



"X and Y Axis" by Lindsay Olson
X and Y Axis by Lindsay Olson

First Defense Legal Aid

Yesterday Adonnis Williams from First Defense Legal Aid led a workshop at Mozart Park. We appreciate the work that Adonnis and his colleagues at FLDA have been doing, and are thankful that that they are providing these workshops for teens and others who live in Chicago.

What would you say are some of the important things that you remember from the workshop? Would you say that you have a better understanding of what some of your legal rights are? What can you do so you can continue learning more about what your legal rights are?

FLDA workshop during CK class at Mozart Park
FLDA workshop during CK class at Mozart Park

“It Starts Right Here” by Kayland J.

Who told you it started there?

It starts right here

Right where ambition meets passion

Don’t let anyone tell you different

Because it’s yours to discover

Only you can

Don’t look at me and expect me to help you find it

I can only do so much for you

But it starts within

Just to give you a hint

It’s not



Materialistic items

It starts right here

Where you are

All you gotta do is look

Then you will realize it starts wherever you want it to start