1 Blue Tin Production
The problem Exploitation of immigrant women in garment industry sweatshops
The fix A fashion production co-op centering workers’ rights
The backstory Hoda Katebi, an Iranian-born author and activist, wants to change the fashion industry — specifically, the way it exploits poor Black and brown women and wastes materials. Created in 2019, her Beverly-based co-op empowers female workers by paying them equitably for producing environmentally sustainable creations. Blue Tin teams up designers, seamstresses, production managers, and sourcing specialists — many of them immigrants from developing nations. Katebi calls it a “holistic approach to labor,” with shared decision making and profits and a sustainable work pace. Workers have access to health care as well as onsite interpreters and childcare. Katebi’s notion: “Push people to imagine and build not just what they need to survive but what they want to see in order to thrive.”
How to help Blue Tin hopes to move to a permanent space in Chicago Lawn. Donate at zola.com/registry/63rdhouse.
2 Dion’s Chicago Dream
The problem Lack of access to affordable and healthy food in underserved areas of the city
The fix A community refrigerator in Englewood stocked with fresh produce and water, and weekly deliveries to South and West Side residents — all free
The backstory In June 2020, Dion Dawson, a navy veteran, set up his Dream Fridge at the corner of West 57th Street and Racine Avenue. “Given that I have experienced being food insecure, I am driven to tackle this issue,” says the Englewood native. “I want to fundamentally improve lives.” Dawson initially fed 100 families with $2,500 from crowdsourcing. From there, he used social media to spread the word, citing facts linking lack of healthy food to diminished life expectancy. Donors came knocking, including Ellen DeGeneres. Last year, she invited him onto her show and surprised him with a $25,000 contribution. That allowed Dawson to launch Dream Deliveries, which brings fresh produce to 300 people every week.
How to help Donate at dionschicagodream.com.
3 Project sWish
The problem Violence affecting South Side youths
The fix Using sports and entertainment to provide mentorship and constructive activities
The backstory McKinley Nelson, a graduate of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, lost two close friends to gun violence. It’s an experience that resonates with too many Black youths in this city. So in 2018, during a break from classes at Xavier University, he created Project sWish, enlisting local celebrities and NBA players, including his former Young teammate Jahlil Okafor, to help at-risk kids. His organization has reached more than 2,000 Chicago youths through neighborhood basketball leagues and nontraditional programming such as yoga and art therapy. This year, Project sWish celebrated its fourth anniversary with a back-to-school festival, where students received bookbags and supplies, and a celebrity softball game featuring Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa.
How to help Volunteer as a mentor or coach or donate at projectswishchicago.com.