Fellowship Overview

This is an in progress list… some sections still need to be filled out further.

Heartland Centers for Unaccompanied Minors (Should be up to date)

10/08/19 Phone meeting with David Sinski (Executive Director of Heartland Human Care Services) We discussed my involvement as the current fellow, my past work and some of the things I was interested in learning about at Heartland regarding the centers for unaccompanied minors. Conversation went well and I was then referred to James LoBianco. It took some time to get David Sinski to talk with me as he’s very busy running Human Care Services which is the largest company within Heartland as I understand it.

10/22/19 Phone meeting finally happened with James Lo Bianco (Senior Director of SAFEty Initiative Programs). The conversation went well and we had an interesting connection over a story about my father not being able to get a US passport due to being born at home with a midwife in South Texas. Jim has a similar family story as I recall… I was then referred to Thomas Perry from this phone call.

11/05/19 Site Visit to ICRC – 3500 S Giles, Chicago Bronzeville (Center for Unaccompanied Minors/Children) Initial Meeting with Maria Kenney (Community Engagement Coordinator) and Thomas Perry (Managing Director for SAFEty Initiative Programs). I was given a tour of the facility where unaccompanied minors are being housed in Bronzeville. This is their largest center for UCs. (Houses close to 250 kids) Large population of children from the Indian subcontinent housed at this facility.

11/16/19 Site Visit to Heartland Offices at 4822 N Broadway – In person training for Heartland Volunteers (Required for anyone working with the children at their centers for Unaccompanied Minors). Took about half the day in presentations, paperwork and Q&A.

12/04/19 Site Visit to Chap – Englewood (Center for Unaccompanied Minors) – This was my second visit to a center for children housed by Heartland Alliance. The house was a low key house in Englewood that no one would ever know was a center for housing children. This space is for the youngest children in Heartland’s care and for pregnant mothers or children and their mothers. I met some very young children at this center from some diverse places. It was both one of the hardest things to see and at the same time a place that’s hard to not have a smile on your face. This facility only houses a very small number of kids (max around 20 I believe).

12/12/19 Site Visit to the ICC – Rogers Park (Center for Unaccompanied Minors) – This was my third visit to a center and this facility in Roger’s Park has a large population of Chinese children most of whom are about teenage years and apparently many from one region of China (Fujian). This center cares for about 80 kids. It was another moment that shocked me seeing so many children from China at this facility. I briefly got to say hello to the children using some of my limited Mandarin which got a pretty enthusiastic response from the kids.

12/??/19 Online training, background check and medical examinations – I spent some time during the evenings in December doing the required online training for working with kids in these centers. I made one trip out to center to get fingerprinted and two trips to the doctor for a checkup and TB test administration and reading of the TB test results. The online training I did are as follows:

1. DCFS Mandated Reported


2. DCFS 384/404


3. Embracing Diversity


4. Child Development


5. PREA (Sexual Abuse Prevention)


6. BRYCS (Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse and Maltreatment)


7. Introduction to Unaccompanied Children


I’ve received notification from Maria that I am approved to make images in the centers for unaccompanied minors. I’ve submitted to her dates for the rest of Jan and Feb that are open and that I would be available to photograph some objects and spaces in the centers. I’ve also submitted a list of potential objects and spaces so that each center can approve the specific images I’d like to try making. I made this list in my notebook when I visited each center based on observations during my tours.

Heartland Centers for Refugee and Immigrant Community Services (RICS)

Ravenswood – Immigrant and Refugees Services (English Classes, Vocational Training and Resettlement Services) – 4411 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640 (Up to date)

09/25/19 Site visit for initial Meeting with Nancy Callahan. Discussed what she does with her Hospitality Training program but found out that there wouldn’t be any classes to shadow until January. After discussing some my previous work and some things I was interested in at Heartland she recommended I talk to some other people at the Ravenswood location and gave me introductions.

10/08/19 Site visit for initial meeting with Shannon Ericson and introduction to Tienou-Gustafson. Shannon is a case worker and was someone who was recommended I talk to for learning about paperwork related to refugee resettlement. Lea is the director of RICS Ravenwood and has to give approval for things that I might want to do relating to this program.

10/29/19 Site visit to photograph the storeroom & brief meeting with Alyssa Wilson (Volunteer Coordinator). Discussed potential opportunities to be involved with volunteers who are helping newly arrived refugees. This was the first day I made images including the images of the ties and storeroom.

11/06/19 Site visit to apartment for new refugee couple from Afghanistan.  Met Joshua Grizzard who I drove with to the Buffalo Grove suburbs. Apartment was empty and was being cleaned.  Met the landlord who made comment about being an immigrant himself.  Made some images of the apartment empty but I wasn’t very satisfied with any of them.  I’ll have to think about them and see.

11/07/19 Site visit to the apartment for the Afgani couple.  Had to rent a car to get out there as no one from Heartland in the city was going to be out there who I could catch a ride with.  I arrived at the apartment about an hour before the couple arrived and photographed the apartment

11/08/19 Site visit to an apartment being set up for a refugee family from the Congo. I was given the lockbox code and was able to enter the apartment by myself. I spent some time photographing the apartment with the little bit of furniture that was delivered prior to my arrival. After texting Joshua and the volunteers who setup the apartment it seemed like the apartment was not going to be fully stocked and arranged before the family arrived. Since the family was close to arriving and I was still the only person there I decided to leave so that I wasn’t in the apartment when they got there.

01/02/20 Site visit with Nancy Callahan to discuss her up coming hospitality training (Vocational Training) for refugees. We discussed me sitting some days on her upcoming 6 week course which will be meeting Mon-Thur for six weeks starting Jan 27th. There will be a tour of the Peninsula Hotel and training on site for this class that I’m planning to attend. There is also a mock hotel room that they setup at the Heartland office which I would like to photograph. Lastly Nancy had some former participants of the program who she thinks would be good for me to talk to about their experiences. While I was there I also touched base with Shannon Ericson and the Lea Tienou-Gustafson. They are also going to introduce me to some people who they think are very open to sharing their experiences.

01/07/20 Site Visit – Arranged by Nancy Callahan I met with two former participants of the hospitality training program. Both are former refugees who were very open to discussing their stories with me and meeting with me. We have agreed to meet again and discuss some possible areas of collaboration. (I’ll be making a separate post about this meeting to talk about details)

Ravenswood – Immigrant and Refugees Services (English Classes, Vocational Training and Resettlement Services) – 4411 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640 (Needs to be updated quite a bit missing)

Belmont – Immigrant and Refugee Services (English Classes)

Initial Meeting with Christen Jasmin and Mary ????

Sitting in on English Classes (Teachers Francisco, and ????,  Scott, Haimin)

Fall Festival Site Visit (Halloween Party Potluck and Games with program participants) – Brought some food from Chinatown and brought my wife Bee to visit the center for the first time where she signed up for Saturday english classes. As it turns out she’s now signed up for classes M-F in the afternoons having transferred from Saturday classes.

01/13/20 Site Visit – Sat in on a small English class. The class was for very elementary English speakers. Francisco who is the teacher had me participate in the class by working one on with students helping them with conjugation of verbs, pronunciation and a larger question and response with the four students in the class. After class I made some photographs of the classroom and a couple other spaces at the Belmont RICS center. There’s one image of the whiteboard in the class I’ve been thinking about making for some time that I finally made.

Heartland Auxiliary Board (Will be filling this in shortly)

Asset Building Programs (Heartland Human Care Services)

09/25/19 Heartland Alliance Ravenswood location 4411 N. Ravenswood Chicago – Initial meeting with Barbara Martinez (Manager, Asset Building Programs) to learn about what Barbara and her team do at Heartland Alliance. Was introduced to several of her team members including Carolina Guzman and Andres Serrano.

10/10/19 Train-the-Trainer workshop at Heartland Alliance main offices 208 S. LaSalle, Chicago – Attended a workshop where training was given to people working with Heartland Alliance that help people build assets by teaching skills related to the financial/banking system. Topics included credit score monitoring, avoiding bank fees, avoiding predatory lending, building a savings account etc.

10/24/19 Coffee House Event at Robust Coffee Lounge 6300 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago – Attended a meeting with the asset building team where they discuss a subject/book/podcast related to their work with asset building. Links to the TED talks are below.

TED Talk 1: A Surprising Habit of Original Thinkers TED Talk Description: How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

TED Talk 2Are you a giver or a taker? TED Talk: Description: In every workplace, there are three basic kinds of people: givers, takers and matchers. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant breaks down these personalities and offers simple strategies to promote a culture of generosity and keep self-serving employees from taking more than their share.

(Barbara’s team has started merging their work with asset building with RICS programs which would tie in nicely with some of the things I’m working on with other Heartland programs. I’m pursuing the possibility of finding a way to incorporate this work into the Fellowship work.)

Columbia College Class Visits (Up to Date)

“The Portrait” Professor Paul D’Amato, (Class Lecture, Discussion & Critique) – Talked about my portraiture projects and how they’ve changed over the years leading me towards more socially engaged work. Talked about the Dammeyer Fellowship and how I’m currently learning about Heartland programs and the connections to my previous work.

“Photography Seminar” Professor Jay Wolke, Chicago, IL (Class Lecture & Discussion) – This class visit was more generally about my trajectory in photography (with some discussion about commercial and editorial work) and connecting the dots to how I began making work that would lead to me applying for the Dammeyer Fellowship. We also walked over to the Weisman Exhibition and I showed them the work I made for that project and had a discussion about that work being about social issues.

“Photo Social Practice” Professor Peter FitzPatrick, Chicago, IL (Class Lecture, Discussion & Demo) – In this class visit I really focused on talking about how I’ve moved towards more socially engaged work. I showed them my Car Culture work and discussed how I started making more typological/anthropological work and compared that to my more recent projects in Hong Kong and Chicago where I’m working more within communities. I discussed the challenges I’ve been having with the fellowship and how making a portrait of individuals might not be possible with the populations that I’m working with. I also talked about the things I was learning and getting exposed to through the fellowship and how it relates to my broader practice.

“Graduate Seminar” Professor Kelli Connell & Paul D’Amato Chicago, IL (Class Lecture & Discussion) – This was a brief class visit where I very quickly described who I was and what I’m doing with the fellowship to the graduate students who don’t already know me. The goal of the class visit was more to share my experiences applying to scholarships, residencies and exhibitions and to share my submission organization process with the class. I encouraged everyone to be applying to the upcoming fellowships/scholarships/awards (Abelson, Weisman etc) and offered to help with their submission materials if they wanted help. A couple people took me up on the offer. While this wasn’t related directly to what I’m doing with my fellowship research/work I thought it fit in with the need for Dammeyer fellows to engage with the Columbia Community by leading discussions/workshops and sharing my experiences as a resource for current students.

01/13/20: I’ve begun emailing professors in both the Photo department and art & Art history department to setup dates for the spring semester for class visits. (Started last week) Some professors who’ve already responded and would like me to come visit are are Margaret Denny for her Art History class. We are going to have a meeting to discuss where I might come join the class to talk about socially engaged photography. She thought the section where they discuss Hine and Riis would be good. Jay Wolke has asked me to come to Doc Methods and Constructed Image he thinks there’s a tie in for both. While not necessarily about socially engaged photography I’m going to visit the Verser’s assisting class and talk to them about my experience in that world and I’ll sneak in some stuff about the Dammeyer Fellowship and what I’m doing now to maybe pique some interest. I’m also trying to setup an artist talks in Los Angeles at CSULB, Moorpark College and Art Center College of Design for when I’m at Photo LA. I’ve got some initial interest from CSULB. All of these if they happen will definitely feature my trajectory into socially engaged photography with discussion about the Fellowship and the challenges related.

Columbia College Meetings (Will be filling this section in shortly)

Fo Wilson

President Kim

01/08/20 Meeting with Wendy Hall – Emailed Wendy and setup a meeting with her in the library. As per her usual she arrived with a small stack of leads for me including a book titled Photography and Migration which I’m reading right now. Wendy was a really good person to have a very informal chat with about what I’ve been doing with the fellowship. She had some good ideas for research and has continued to send me some more leads as she runs across them.

4 thoughts on “Fellowship Overview”

  1. This is really a helpful section — it’s so much more efficient than other ways I’ve tried to stay on top of what the fellow is doing and where s/he is visiting. I found it very useful and instructive, and I think it allows us to focus on problem solving or big questions when we email and/or meet.

  2. This is super helpful Jonathan, both for you just keeping track of your progress, activities, and people but also for visually mapping how you might connect ideas to content.

  3. Maria and Tom have kept me up to date on the progress towards the clearances and I appreciate the care and consideration you’re providing with regard to image making and even the angle you think you might be taking. Naturally there is a fair amount of sensitivity there, and I think people are going to be wanting more involvement in the process than you may find at other sites.

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