In early 2022, I was invited to contribute to an online feature published by WTTW, Chicago's PBS affiliate. Part of the FIRSTHAND series, WTTW FIRSTHAND: Segregation took the form of written, photographic, and video works exploring the topic of Chicago's deep-rooted segregation from dozens of resident perspectives.

I was asked to give a ten-minute talk on the subject of my first several years living in Chicago, an expansion of my participation in a portion of Tonika Johnson's Folded Map Project titled "Don't Go" which featured stories of Chicagoans who had been told to stay away from some parts of their city. Tonika's photos of me and other "Don't Go" subjects, and the results of her interview collaboration with UIC sociologist Maria Krysan, can be seen in this series of Block Club Chicago articles.


Photo by Ken Carl

My photography was a framing device for my WTTW FIRSTHAND: Segregation talk, discussing how the photographic subjects I chose changed over time as I got to know Chicago better. Speaking aloud the implicit assumptions I made about my surroundings when I was new to the city and had been given bad advice, my participation in the project sought to interrupt similar thought processes in other newcomers to Chicago. The talk can be viewed here.