Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bridging Gaps one Pit Bull at a Time

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.

16 comments:

mayziegal said...

Mom said that when they just had Brudder Ranger, people used to stop them ALL the time. One lady even stopped her car in the middle of the road to ask if he was a Jack Russell! Mom said that she always thought that must be what it was like to be a famous person.

But they don't get stopped nearly as much since I came along. Mom says it's prolly like how peoples have a certain idea about A's students and their neighborhood. They have a certain idea about me, too. But mom says that's okay cuz she doesn't really love getting stopped by random people on the street anyway. (She would make a terrible famous person.)

Wiggles & Wags,
Mayzie

EmilyS said...

As an older white woman, I am pretty sure I would never get to meet the cute young men I see on my walks (often black or Hispanic) except for the fact that they want to talk to me about my dogs!

SherBear said...

There is definetly something special about being a pitbull owner! I have people stop me all the time both around my neighborhood and in different areas as well to meet Nala and discuss pitbulls with me. It's the same with my mom (not a pitbull owner), now whenever she meets someone who owns one she wants to talk pittie love with them!

on a side note - one of my neighbors (with an adorable spaniel/poodle-type mix whom Nala LOVES) told me earlier this week that Nala has single handedly changed his perseption of pitbulls and said that she is perfect :-) I told him I think his dog is perfect too!!

Sarah said...

I think dogs of all shapes and sizes bring people together...but you're right. Pit Bull types in particular bring together people from different socio-economic and racial communities. I am stopped or complimented more often on Sadie by black or hispanic men but talked to more often about my other non-pitbull type dogs by white people. So I wonder if it's not that Pitties are really bringing everyone together as much as they are bridging a gap between white pittie owners and racially diverse communities? That seems to be my experience, though it might not be the experience of all.

Luis Carrasco said...

Great Read!.....Ever since we moved into Albany Park, we've met all kinds of diverse people and we have spent many occasions speaking with them because of Kai & Kakoe(they have somewhat become celebrities in our block!!!)
Just about a half hour ago I went home on my break to take the little Kai out for a walk and was stopped by a person driving their car who works at the laundry mat. I don't know the person’s name but boy he sure knew who Kai was. He was amazed on how much Kai has grown since we first moved in and he couldn’t believe how well behaved he was. Needless to say, I think that dogs (especially pit bulls) that are well behaved and trained can bring people together and can also help rid of a bad stereotype.

Of Pit Bulls and Patience said...

It's really great to meet people over a common love for dogs, but then discover how much more similar we are! My mismatched digs are usually a great conversation starter.

waldobungie said...

Would you ever be able to post photos some of the projects that A's students do? I am so curious to see what they come up with - it sounds like an amazing showcase for them!

Rebelwerewolf said...

LOL - we're the flip side of your story! We're a young, non-white couple with two pit mixes, and older white women have approached us to tell us that our dogs remind them of their friends' pit mixes.

Ashley said...

You guys amaze me every day! It blows my mind that people can be so ignorant to assume that all pit bulls are bad because of what they hear on the news. You won't ever hear a news story about a responsible dog owner, and that's a real bummer. I have a pit who is the sweetest thing on the planet, I call her my snug-a-bull :)my "best-friend" always tells me that "she's a good dog now but she'll turn" what kind of friend says that? I feel like telling her "your daughter is good now, but she'll be a murderer" b/c it's just as ridiculous.

I've been a silent follower of your blog for a long time but its about time I express my appreciation for all you do to help this breed who, wrongfully, has a bad rep. So thank you! from Me & Rizzo (my snug-a-bull) we're spreading the word about you guys in Maine! We love you!

livierules said...

This happens to Petey and I all the time! And lately lots of people we are meeting on the Upper East Side of Manhattan tell us that they also own and love pit bulls and try to dispel the bad rap these dogs have

Mel said...

I always joke with the bf that Ender is the ultimate boy magnet while it is too bad for him that Barksdale attracts grandmas who think she is cutest.

Also, education is near and dear to the bf's heart and after reading Seth Godin's new book Stop Stealing Dreams, was inspired to start a website to spread the word:

BumperCharity.com

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

I completely agree. I have met all kinds of people through Zoe, and I absolutely love it. She's a great conversation starter!

Two Pitties in the City said...

Thanks everyone! Though it is interesting to hear everyone's varying experiences. It seems living in such a diverse area does have a wider acceptance for our pooches.

@WaldoBungie: Thanks for asking about my project! I've been lucky enough to get a grant allowing me to do it the past few years (we buy disposable cameras, develop film, gallery boards, print books and it starts to get expensive). I've been trying to keep my school life and Two Pitties lives separate, though if anyone is in Chicago and would like to see our project please email me through the contact button (we will likely be exhibiting the first week of June!) and we do make a book with the students' photography and writing that would be available through Blurb. Or just email me off-line and I can talk more about it. This project has been so important to my students. I even saw some former students, who are now in college, and the first thing they asked was whether I was still doing this project with my class!

Kate said...

That is so great. I love how dogs create bring people together that way. It doesn't matter how much money you make or what neighborhood you live in, everyone loves a dog :)

Emily said...

Wonderful post! I love uniting with and meeting other responsible pit owners. It always makes my heart swell up.
You both do awesome work in your community with dogs and otherwise.

Angela said...

What cuties! Found you through Centsational Girl comments...totally clicked over because you're a fellow (midwest) bully lover. Love this blog though...adding it to reader now. :)

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