Fifth City Revisited

39 3Arts supporters
$4,129 raised of $5,000 goal
18 Days 01:05:49 LEFT
This project will only be funded if $5,000 is contributed to 3Arts by April 16, 2020, 11:59PM
    • 3Arts matched
    • 83% contributed
    • 17% to go

In a Nutshell

I am staging a solo performance project called Fifth City Revisited at the First Church of the Brethren in Garfield Park. The work explores the history of Fifth City, a radical community experiment from the 1960s to early 1990s on Chicago’s Westside. My parents were part of the original movement. As an adult, I am curious about why this incredible movement isn’t talked about more and why it isn’t more known as part of our local Chicago history. Tying together personal memory, oral history, original Fifth City documents, urban planning, and city policy, Fifth City Revisited explores how we create healthy communities while also considering the scale at which we must do this work in order to grow and sustain it. This project holds Fifth City up as a symbol of radical Black-centered community building using dance, story, and media to ask: what is the power of this community’s story against the backdrop of city planning systems that have all but erased its work? What lessons does the Fifth City movement have to teach us in our current, exciting, and (cautiously) hopeful era of grassroots change where a renewed commitment to neighborhood investment is bubbling up across Chicago’s West and South sides? Your support for Fifth City Revisited contributes to this energy. With your donation, you are helping to bring this community history alive and continuing this conversation about the revitalization of Chicago’s Westside.

The Full Story...

Born in the 1960s, the Fifth City Human Development Project was an ambitious community redevelopment process for Chicago’s Westside. Developed as a “40 year plan,” Fifth City incorporated educational curriculum, economic development, skill training, creativity, and community investment to rebuild the neighborhood following the 1968 riots that decimated so much of Chicago’s Westside. The visionary example presented a powerful model for local citizens reimagining their community and working together to manifest a new vision to bring a higher quality of life for all.

Drawing on a massive archive of the movement’s history preserved by the Institute of Cultural Affairs (the organization that grew out of the Fifth City movement), this project invites people to consider Fifth City’s plans, symbols, and rituals for community transformation as part of an active creative community process. I am partnering with the First Church of the Brethren, an intimate neighborhood church in Garfield Park right in the heart of the Fifth City community, to be the presenting venue for Fifth City Revisited. It is necessary that this work be staged in the actual community that the subject matter is all about. It is important that this work be in conversation with current citizens’ concerns and activations of energy across the Greater Westside from Garfield Park to North Lawndale, Austin, South Lawndale, Humboldt Park, and Little Village. It is crucial that on the ground community experts and activists be engaged to help spark a larger discussion and offer an array of solutions contemplating what it means to redevelop and what it takes to heal the Westside.

Comprised of an evening-length performance, an expanded installation of Fifth City history, and complementary programming, Fifth City Revisited is a call to action. Part of the work seeks to imagine new futures for this community through the lessons of the past. I will incorporate Fifth City's history with the current moment/movement on Chicago’s West and South sides around quality of life issues and citizen-led change. Complementary programming will include dialogues, workshops, walking tours, lectures, and visioning sessions where Westside community members and local grassroots change agents convene. Together, we will collectively imagine what healthy cities and neighborhoods can be using a combination of creative tools from storytelling, oral history, and collective mapping to performance.

Performances & programming will be staged April 24-26 & May 1-3, 2020 at First Church of the Brethren in the Fifth City community.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25 - Shout-out on social media
    ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50 - Above + 1 ticket to "Fifth City Revisited"
    ($30.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $75 - Above + a special "Fifth City Revisited" playlist of freedom struggle music featured in & inspired by the show
    ($40.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100 - Above + 2 tickets to "Fifth City Revisited"
    ($45.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250 - Above + 4 tickets to "Fifth City Revisited" & co-producer credit in the program
    ($155.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500 - 4 tickets to "Fifth City Revisited," co-producer credit in the program, & a special tour of the exhibit and talk with the artist
    ($250.00 is tax deductible.)
Meida Teresa McNeal image
Meida Teresa McNeal is the Director of Honey Pot Performance, an Afro-feminist collective dedicated to critical performance and public humanities. Recent projects include ways of knowing (2019), a performance and ...
  • Update 1: MATCH ACHIEVED!
    Posted on March 03, 2020

    THANK YOU! We are now 72% funded and almost there!

    I've assembled quite the production and community programming team and everyone is busy doing their part to bring this work to dynamic life. 

    Our creative and admin team includes: Keli Stewart (Creative Direction), Justin Botz (Media Design), Margaret Nelson (Lighting Design), Stephanie Jeter (Video Design & Story Gathering), Vitaliy Vladimirov (Exhibition Design), Miranda Gozalez (Marketing Coordinator), Jordan Kunkel (Marketing Support), and Victoria Sockwell (Community Programming Coordinator).

    Last weekend we had our third community planning meeting at First Church of the Brethren. I am blessed and inspired to be in a room full of folks working together to build a creative platform featuring an incredibly rich two weeks of roundtable conversations, panels, and workshops surrounding the performance. All of this activity will create a deeper conversation and space for action around the themes of the work - uncovering quieted histories, preserving community culture, legacy, and heritage, investing in Westside communities now, and healing from the impacts of long term disinvestment. 

    Our next meeting is Saturday, March 7th at 11am. If you're interested in getting involved, drop me a line. Would love to have you at the table!

    More soon


    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Susan Manning

    • Katherine Dreher

    • Krista Bryski Richard

    • Carole McCurdy

    • Olivia Junell

    • Nikki Jolly

    • Irina Zadov

    • Josephine Ferorelli

    • Caroline O'Boyle

    • Angie Tillges

    • Zachary Whittenburg

    • Pamela Calvert

    • Helen Haug

    • michael rohd

    • Jaclyn Jacunski

    • Eva Silverman

    • Ayako Kato

    • Aymar Jean

    • Howard Bailey

    • cristal sabbagh

    • Micah Salkind

    • Aurora Tabar

    • Brett Swinney

    • Karen Snyder

    • Miranda Gonzalez

    • Vanessa Stokes

    • Aisha Jean-Baptiste

    • Joanne Vena

    • Ira S Murfin

    • Ada Cheng

    • William Glasspiegel

    • Justus Roe

    • Kate Zeller

    • Andrew Hershberger

    • Angel Elmore

    • Alison Brookins

    • Joyce Cassel

    • Neil Smalheiser

    • Barbara Koenen

make it work


3AP is funded in part by grants from:

The Field Foundation  Illinois Arts Council