This Halloween, a handful of community members and artists gathered at 345 Art Gallery, 345 N. Kedzie Ave. in East Garfield Park during an event that originated from what the founder described as the horror of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.  

The Building Brave Spaces for Community event was organized by City Bureau, the Woodlawn-based journalism nonprofit, as part of “Community Care in the 2020 Election: We Gon’ Be Alright” series. 

While the series runs through November, this was the only workshop held on the West Side. The idea behind this particular workshop was to show residents how to create spaces where they can have discussions about potentially contentious topics without having to worry about being attacked for their opinions.

Chicago artist Felicia Holman explained that she came up with the Community Care series in order to “get ahead of the gut punch” that she and many others experienced when Donald Trump won the 2016 election. 

“Let’s get ahead of that in the 2020 election,” she said. “Let’s think about how, no matter who is going to be [in the White House], we’re going to be alright.”

Emotional consultant and educator Jenna Anast, who facilitated the Halloween workshop, emphasized that the exact parameters of what will and won’t be allowed in a brave space has to be determined by the participants. If the experience becomes uncomfortable for anyone, Anast said, they are free to take a break or leave altogether. 

During the course of the workshop, several ideas for what participants considered a brave space emerged. They agreed that participants should be able to participate in their own unique ways and willing to give and receive ideas. 

Anast said that, while “we have to be there for each other, we have to be there for ourselves.”

Although the snowy weather kept many people indoors (only two residents showed up), the organizers and those who did attend the event said they felt empowered by participating. Corry Williams, 345 Art Gallery’s owner, said that he appreciated the opportunity to host an event like this, especially given how often the West Side gets overlooked. 

“City Bureau said they wanted to come back, and I was happy to let them come back,” Williams said. “The West Side needs more places where people can come in and have meetings.”


Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...