[Chicago Slices raw: Community Support Systems, John Rossen]

Raw footage for "Chicago Slices," a series about everyday life in Chicago. In this video, we meet Guadalupe Castillo Rossen, John Rossen, Jose Canderas, and Fabiana Cardozo, of an organization called "Community Support Systems," a non-profit organization based in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. They are interviewed by Tobi Johnson at an annual fundraising event at their office, and talk about their work in the Mexican-American community in Pilsen, highlighting specific needs, challenges, and rewards of their work.

00:00Copy video clip URL Tobi Johnson interviews Guadalupe Castillo Rossen, founder of Community Support Systems, on the street in Pilsen. She discusses her familial history and immigration to the United States, and then goes on to talk about her not-for-profit organization. She finds it difficult to maintain her organization through foundation support and small fundraising events. This evening’s festivities will be the major fundraising event of the year, featuring Mexican food and music.

02:50Copy video clip URL Rossen talks about the English and parenting classes and other support that her not-for-profit provides, mainly for people in their twenties and thirties. She claims that the main challenge for people in the community is learning English.

04:38Copy video clip URL They discuss the strengths of the Pilsen community, which, according to Rossen, includes the desire of the people to improve their lives by coming to the United States. She does not believe that things in Pilsen are necessarily better than where many people came from in Mexico. She expresses cultural pride and talks about the importance of preserving culture in the community. They laugh as she calls herself a feminist, and Rossen goes on to talk about how she challenges the “machismo” that’s prevalent in Mexican culture.

08:20Copy video clip URL Johnson and Rossen talk about identity formation in the immigrant community, and how immigrants have a “split identity.” Rossen talks about how her organization incorporates teaching skills in its counseling program, mentioning the successes that she’s seen in her work in various areas such as immigration and education.

11:20Copy video clip URL Johnson asks Rossen what she’d like to say to people who don’t know much about Pilsen. She answers by saying that this is a small area with a large population and a lot of challenges.

13:05Copy video clip URL Johnson asks Rossen about the gang situation in Pilsen, and she says that they need more training centers and parks for the children, and intervention programs to help kids get back into school. She says that there are many factors that influence whether or not a child will join a gang. Johnson brings up the point of identity as a motivating factor for the children.

15:30Copy video clip URL Johnson asks Rossen if there’s anything else she wants to say, and she says that she has worked with a lot of love in this community, and feels connected to its people and its issues. She brings up the distressing example of how some of her children’s friends are current gang members, but predicts a positive future, where more children will stay in school and get their degrees, which will then help to change the community in positive ways.

17:44Copy video clip URL The interview ends, and is followed by shots of the streets and inside Community Support Systems, where people gather for the event.

20:20Copy video clip URL Johnson speaks with John Rossen on the back porch. Rossen explains that he is on the board of the organization and he offers advice based on his own experience in the not-for-profit world.

22:10Copy video clip URL John Rossen discusses “The New Patriot,” a national publication that attempts to reinstate the basic democratic, revolutionary values of our culture. He talks about President Clinton’s backtracking and “betrayal” of progressive ideologies and campaign promises.

27:00Copy video clip URL John Rossen claims that he’s been an activist since he was 17 years old, explaining that he was part of the Young Socialist Club and later joined the Communist Party. He talks about his family history, saying that his parents were Jews who fled the Japanese-Russian conflict in the early 1900s. His father was his biggest influence, due to his association with Norman Thomas, a socialist preacher. John Rossen goes on to compare the Socialist and Communist ideals during the Great Depression. He recounts experiences protesting and leading protest movements along with his wife.

33:00Copy video clip URL John Rossen talks about how he met his wife, and compares today’s young activists to how he was as a young person: many of them carry the same spirit that has always been part of progressive movements, but today things are more complicated than they previously were. He talks about Lupe, calling her a “dynamo,” and saying that the organization has widely been accepted in the community.

36:01Copy video clip URL The tape cuts to people watching NBA basketball on the porch, featuring the Chicago Bulls playoff game, and then cut back to John Rossen talking more politics and history with Tobi Johnson.

38:35Copy video clip URL The tape cuts to an interview back on the street with Jose Cardenas, who is the director of the board. Cardenas talks about his work in the community for the past 12 years, explaining that he got started through his work with Jim Edgar in the Secretary of State’s office, worked on AIDS awareness in Pilsen, and dealt especially with the gay and lesbian community.

42:20Copy video clip URL Cardenas talks about how he arrived in the United States 20 years prior, saying that his father “tricked us” into moving there for the summer, and they never went back. He talks about the diversity of Chicago, and the challenges of learning the language while he was a student in school.

46:10Copy video clip URL Cardenas goes on to say that he helps people understand that their language and accent in English are not a drawback but a strength and a “trademark.”

49:48Copy video clip URL Johnson asks him to comment on the specific needs of the Pilsen community. Cardenas says that one problem is that people often speak about and for other communities, rather than speaking for their own. He explains that Pilsen, while it may be smaller in size, has a higher population than many other wards in Chicago, and claims that one of the disadvantages is a lack of community centers and parks.

52:44Copy video clip URL Cardenas talks about the misconceptions that people from the suburbs have about Pilsen, saying that they think it’s too dangerous to go there and that people don’t make any money. He emphasizes that the strengths of the community should be highlighted before the interview ends.

54:50Copy video clip URL Conversation with Fabiana Cardozo, another member of the board of directors, who tells of her experiences playing pool in a league. She explains that she uses this as a way to relieve her stress because she does emotionally challenging work.

59:45Copy video clip URL Cardozo talks about why she got involved with the organization. She had been employed at centers on the north side of the city “working in AIDS,” even though she has lived in Pilsen for nine years.

01:01:13Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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