Listening to Neighborhood Chicago: North Lawndale


The economic disparities between different Chicago neighborhoods have been clearly identified and publicly displayed in community activist and photographer Tonika Johnson’s Folded Map Project. But are these equally perceptible in the world of sound? What are the sonic characteristics of different neighborhoods? How are they the same, how do they differ and how can these questions help us understand matters of difference, agency and power? NON:op Open Opera Works and the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology team up with Open House Chicago to present a third season of Aural Neighborhoods: Listening to Neighborhood Chicago. Our pair of soundwalks reveal the aural characteristics within the built environment of diverse Chicago neighborhoods. This year, teaching artists Jeanette Dominguez and Veronica Anne Salinas encounter North Lawndale and the Little Italy section of the Near West Side, situated along an east/west line from The Loop to the west side of Chicago. Each neighborhood includes a sound trail and sonic points of interest with a photo, description and listening cues, and a brief audio sample. Walk one or both trails with or without headphones, listen to complete recordings of each soundwalk on the NON:op website [[](] and respond to prompts on our Aural Neighborhoods blog. Finally, should you wish to share longer audio clips, video or images of your soundwalk experience, contact us [] for a link to upload your documentation so that we may share it with the world. LET’S GET STARTED BREATHING EXERCISE When you get to Douglass (Anna and Frederick) Cultural Center and Fieldhouse, the beginning of the sound trail, take some time to slow down. Relax your body, feel your feet firmly on the ground and let your arms hang loosely at your sides. If you are comfortable, close your eyes. Breath in for five counts, hold for five counts, breath out for five counts and hold for five counts. Repeat three to five times, until you feel yourself slowing down and relaxing. Continue breathing and listen to the sounds all around you. Listen to the sounds closest to you. Are they constant or sustained, or are they intermittent? Next listen for the sounds farther away from you. Again, ask yourself are they constant or intermittent? Finally, listen for the sounds farthest away, ones you can barely hear. Are any of the sounds you are hearing unusual? Are you hearing things you don’t expect? Take a few more breaths as you have been doing. When you are ready, open your eyes and begin the Near West Side Sound Trail. As you proceed, it is best to walk in silence. A soundwalk is intended to be a personal listening experience. If you are walking with someone else, save your thoughts to the end of the walk before having a conversation. The sound of your footsteps becomes part of the walk, listen to the leaves, gravel and pavement under your feet. Pause at each of the following sonic points of interest. Listen to the sound around you, read the description and listen to the brief recording.

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