After introductions, Mark and Ronit showed a clip from one of their films depicting students from Jenner Elementary School asking Mayor Richard M. Daley and Alderman Walter Burnett pointed questions about the demolition of the Cabrini Green houses. As one student in the film asked of the Mayor, “If you grew up in Cabrini Green would you want them to take your memories?”
After showing the film clip, Mark and Ronit led a discussion amongst the club members. The students expressed mixed feelings about what Daley said in the film and about displacement, public housing, and the pros and cons of the Cabrini Green demolition.
Mark, a former Cabrini Green resident and father, talked about what an emotional journey it has been watching the demolition process from the beginning through the end.He offered the students a history of Cabrini Green, discussing how its first residents were immigrants and it was an integrated development. He asserted that it was only during the recession in the 1980s that the housing project became a place of crime and gang activity.
The speakers also emphasized the importance of education in general. Mark encouraged Cabrini Connections students: “Find like-minded individuals.” He and Ronit urged students to surround themselves with people who share their values and also want to pursue education.
Finally, Mark and Ronit spoke about what an exciting time it is to be a filmmaker. As they discussed, when they first started making films they had to search for festivals and opportunities to showcase their work. Now, films can easily be shown to people all over the world through online platforms like Vimeo and YouTube. In addition, technology and software is cheaper for film editing.
All in all, the session was a great opportunity for students to catch a firsthand glimpse of the power of film to tell stories, ignite conversation, and empower people to take a stand.