Chicago Youth Organize Open Mic in South Side Garden

A community garden and farmers market on the South Side is now the venue of an open mic hosted for young Chicago artists.

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Wednesday’s event at the community garden on 77th and Halsted streets featured several musical and literary performances, including the original song “Before It All Ends” by Tyrel Jerry, a student at the Chicago High School for the Arts.

“It was basically just a song about how I feel when I’m doing all this hard work to get somewhere and what if it all never happens and my thoughts on that,” Jerry said.

The garden is operated by the Community Youth Development Institute, a charter high school located two blocks away in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, but instructor Michelle Alvarez said the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for CYDI students to garden and sell produce at its farmers market.

So students from other Chicago high schools, like ChiArts and De La Salle Institute, stepped in and decided to start an open mic event for any performers looking to showcase their talent.

“When they work hard maintaining the garden, they want to show you another side of them,” Alvarez said. “They want to be able to show their creative side.”


The open mic, which is hosted by the local arts collective Hated Youth, runs from 4 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday. The farmers market, which sells crops as well as products made by local youth, runs from 9 to 11 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday.

Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia


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