Back when A and I both changed careers and first started teaching high school in the "inner-city", we were both idealistic and probably very naive in what we thought we could do as teachers. A continues to work in a neighborhood school and every year she does an amazing project, where her students try to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions that other people in the city have about their community. Her students create an exhibition, which includes photography, interviews, and poetry and present it in spoken word and gallery form to show the true story of themselves and their community beyond the stereotypes people might have. Through this project the students travel to another neighborhood in Chicago and present their community and view of Chicago through their eyes.
Many of our past students and A's current students are from neighborhoods that many people unfortunately deem unsafe, gang ridden and completely destitute. Through this project the students demonstrate the beauty that exists in their neighborhoods that many are too ignorant to see. While A tries on a grand scale to bridge the gap between different parts of the city, we feel as though our pooches are also bridging gaps.
The area that we live in is very diverse, racially and socioeconomically, but it is also very segregated and this is quite apparent in our many neighborhoods and parks. We love that in whatever neighborhood or park we walk through, we have all types of people stopping us to ask us about the pooches, some that know the pooches through the blog and sometimes people will have us wait as they grab their Mr. B or Miss M lookalike from their car, home, backyard or they pull up pictures on their phone or camera. Oftentimes we are conversing with random strangers, exchanging funny and touching stories about our pooches.
Chicago neighborhoods are very divided, but through our pooches we have had the opportunity to meet all types of people. We wonder if this is just the fact that they are dogs and all dog owners experience this or is it the fact that they are pit bulls and pit bulls connect so many different types of people?
Though our weekdays are spent trying to bridge the great divide, we love the fact that we spend our weekends and evenings making new friends of all backgrounds and steadily bridging the small divides in our community.