MaiaCo in Gary Update – 24 Aug

MaiaCo has announced the first three project areas where they plan to obtain and consolidate properties for redevelopment in Gary. From west to east they are:

  • The southern section of Black Oak, south of the Borman Expressway (I-80/94), between Chase and Burr Streets
  • The Broadway corridor between the Toll Road (I-90)
  • The Aetna neighborhood, south of US-20

Properties owned by the school board and housing authority will be exempt and will continue to fester for some time I imagine. The redevelopment director claims that no residents or businesses will be displaced.

Gary gadfly Jim Nowacki has filed a lawsuit in Lake Superior Court claiming collusion. This link from the NWI Gazette features his injunction and a copy of the city’s Request for Proposals from May 2016.

According to the NWI Times:

“[Nowacki] said employees and agents of the city provided information for MaiaCo that was not available to other bidders prior to the bids being submitted. Nowacki also contends that MaiaCo’s proposal did not contain some of the information sought in the request for proposals.”

Maiaco’s president took a dig on Nowacki, saying he was “not surprised someone who owns more than 300 tax-delinquent properties would have issues with what the GRC (Gary Redevelopment Commission) is doing to … eliminate blight … and transform Gary. What he should do, instead of filing a lawsuit, is pay his back taxes.”

Nowacki countered that he is legally challenging what he says are unfairly high assessment rates.

The NWI Gazette noted that former KFW insider BR Lane was seen in town. Could she be tapped for MaiaCo’s ‘community liason’ job?

THE YUPPIES ARE COMING! And The Region I knew is dying. While Gary is not discussed except as a transit reference look for more of this neocolonistic attitude to creep in from Chicago.

1937 Memorial Day Massacre

30 May 2017 update: This weekend I spoke with a union leader who knows of at least one person still alive who witnessed the Memorial Day Massacre. He told me she was seven at the time, making her 87 years today.

East Side Chicago, IL The 1937 Memorial Day Massacre at Republic Steel on Chicago’s far East Side is an incident at the historical juncture of living memory and The Ages. My guess is that all eye-witnesses to the violence have now since left this Earth. While film footage exists, it is black and white, a bit grainy, and lacks the decisive moment. Yet this moment still feels near enough in time to us. The cameraman may not have caught the start of the police onslaught against the striking steelworkers, but film footage of the aftermath is brutal. And much like the late 1930s, newspapers are again filled with stories of economic misery, union action and the right of collective bargaining, and police brutality.

During the height of the Occupy moment I was asked by my friend Mariame Kaba of Project NIA to produce a zine for teens and young adults, part of a series on historical moments of police violence. I eagerly took the opportunity, considering it my little contribution to a then-ranging debate: “Are the police part of the ‘99%’?” Those who wouldn’t be informed by history would soon be convinced by the way things played out on the streets, and continue to play out, as the violent response to Black Lives Matter shows.

republic steel massacre memorial

Alfred Causey
Anthony Taglien
Earl Handley
Hilding Anderson
Joseph Rothmund
Kenneth Reed
Lee Tisdale
Leo Francisco
Otis Jones
Sam Popovich


As I detail in the zine, the labor movement and its allies had to immediately and has to continuously guard the history of this event. That duty has been boldy undertaken by the next generation of human rights activists. The following photos by Sarah-Ji Pix and Tea Cal document Chicago City Hall on 18 March 2015, when supporters of the now-successful Reparations Ordinance staged a pop-up art exhibit and teach-in on the history of police violence in Chicago.

One participant, Monica Trinidad – an excellent organizer who grew up near the site of the attack – spoke to the legacy of the 1937 Memorial Day Massacre:

As a child, passing by 118th and Avenue O (closest accessible intersection to Burley) meant nothing more to me than the freakishly large, open field we happened to pass by on the way to the strip mall. As I grew much older, I began to notice the mysterious composition of silver poles on a slab of concrete situated across from the freakishly large, open field, glistening under the hot summer sun, and wondered what its purpose was.

It wasn’t my family, nor my friends, community, or even history books that taught me about the Memorial Day Massacre. It was, in fact, a piece of art that taught me. This grand, steel sculpture, created by former Republic Steel worker Ed Blazak, opened the doorway for me to learn about the horrific police violence that occurred in my very own backyard. The sculpture includes 10 steel pipes, representing both the smokestacks of the ten steel mills that existed in the area at the time and the 10 people murdered by the Chicago Police on that fatal Memorial Day in 1937.

Oak Savannahs

A savannah is a transitional area. In our case, a transition between eastern forests and (middle) western prairie. In the southwest corner of the Great Lakes region and the rest of the American middle west it has been much abused under 200+ years of white settler supremacy. Only slowly are we coming to appreciate and implement wiser land practices of those who preceded us.

 Marquette Park, Gary, IN

Closest to home is Marquette Park, where since 2014 I’ve participated in many land stewardship efforts. While the beach tends to get the most attention, the southern part offers very dramatic hidden views of the backdunes, particularly the area south of Marquette Drive and the area north of Hemlock Avenue.


marquette statue


Miller Woods

A neighbor told me, with straight faced earnestness, that Miller Woods was “probably closest to what the region looked like before the white man came and fucked it up.” The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is hosting monthly 4th Saturday stewardship days in 2015 as part of the Miller Woods restoration project.

Miller Woods - Summer - 5

The Bur Oak Woods, Hobart, Indiana

West Pullman Park, Chicago, Illinois

West Pullman Park sits atop a sand-spit beach, formed almost 12,000 years ago, when the southern lakeshore ran along the limestone reef in Thornton, through Lake County, Indiana along Ridge Road, overlapping the older Glenwood Phase beach in Porter County, and curving north towards what would become Michigan, a mere mile or so from where the lake currently is today. It’s one of two visible old beach ridges in Chicago’s ‘Wild Hundreds’, and it’s one of a few undisturbed natural areas in Chicago.


Ridge Park Wetlands

95th and Wood
Beverly, Chicago, IL

Neighborhood action spared this quarter-block seep from conversion to a Metra parking lot in 1991. A hydrological remnant of pre-settlement Blue Island ridge, it is interesting to note that the original canopy and hydrology remained intact. Here’s to knowing what you got before it’s gone.