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GARLIC & GREENS: accessible soul food stories is a project to encourage community dialogue about migration history and culinary heritage. The project welcomes stories from everyone, but it aims to gather stories especially from Chicago’s African American residents whose families traveled north during the Great Migrations. Before thousands of immigrants arrived in the U.S. along the well-traveled route through Ellis Island, black Americans’ ancestors were forced to move here in slavery and afterwards, their descendants continued traveling, this time northward in several waves known as the Great Migrations. People searched for a respite from racism and moved to pursue more abundant job opportunities in northern cities like Chicago. This human movement was accompanied by the journey of southern American food traditions including soul food ingredients like okra, garlic, beans, yams, and various dark leafy greens among others. The project celebrates the legacy of domestic migration in the U.S., highlighting the mobility of Chicago residents’ ancestors and their cultural traditions.

Over the course of the year, GARLIC & GREENS will offer public lectures and produce a set of cards featuring healthy soul food stories in large print and Braille. The lectures will showcase migration history, food heritage, and disability studies. After each speaker, there will be time for questions and conversation. Each lecture will be accompanied by a meal to encourage audience participation and dialogue about the information presented. In addition to addressing the content of the speakers’ talks, GARLIC & GREENS will pose informal questions to the audience, such as: “What home-cooked dish is an important tradition in your family? How do you make it?” If audience members are interested in participating further, I will contact them to set up one-on-one audio-recorded oral history interviews. Those who are not able to attend the public events may share their stories through the call-in phone line which will develop into a website to provide audio accessibility.

GARLIC & GREENS will encourage participation from seniors and people with disabilities who may be isolated from participation in cultural events and community life. The GARLIC & GREENS project is making a special effort to reach audiences with low or no vision because African-Americans are at a higher risk for sight loss from glaucoma, diabetes and hypertensive retinopathy, all of which are preventable with a healthy diet and regular access to health care. GARLIC & GREENS will help participants make stronger connections between cultural heritage, culinary traditions, food access, and health and wellness. Please share this information with your friends and family as we plan events in the coming months. I look forward to hearing from you. Please call 312.8700.GNG to record your story.