Stories by Marissa Nelson

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Oak Lawn

The First Responders Memorial is right on the Oak Lawn Patriot Station Metra stop. The memorial’s spires are partially made with beams from the World Trade Center. (WTTW News)

Oak Lawn is a southwest suburb bordering parts of Chicago. Along with surrounding suburbs, it has a strong Muslim community. And its fire and police departments sent members to support New York firefighters after the 9/11 attack. 

Health Care Workers on Mental, Emotional Toll of Pandemic

(WTTW News)

Nearly a year and a half into the pandemic, some health care workers are reporting feelings of burnout. We talk with medical professionals about what they’re seeing during the latest surge of COVID-19.

The Week in Review: Lawmakers Discuss Energy, Ethics Bills, District Maps

State lawmakers held the second special session of the summer, the clean energy bill was on the agenda. Senate President Don Harmon spoke on the bill Tuesday. (WTTW News)

New political district maps are spurring lawsuits. Springfield gets down to the wire on an energy bill. Hiccups for Chicago Public Schools students’ first week back. And a tumultuous end to the 20-year Afghanistan War.

Spotlight Politics: Springfield Special Session, Round 2

State lawmakers held the second special session of the summer. (WTTW News)

State legislators this week passed new district maps and rejected an amendment to ethics legislation. Our politics team of Amanda Vinicky, Paris Schutz and Heather Cherone weigh in on that story and more in this week’s roundtable.

Through Photos and Oral Histories, Gage Park Youth Reclaim Community Narrative

(Photo courtesy of Eduardo Cornejo / Gage Park Latinx Council)

A new outdoor exhibition in Gage Park tells the neighborhood’s history from the perspective of its residents. It’s part of a new program from the Gage Park Latinx Council that invites young people to reclaim their community’s narrative. We go for a look — and a local history lesson.

‘Latino Voices’ Community Conversation: Small Businesses

A screenshot from the “Latino Voices” community conversation on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (WTTW News)

From mom-and-pop outfits to big-box stores, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted businesses in Chicago and beyond. We talk with local Latino business owners and entrepreneurs about their experiences. Watch the full discussion.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Garfield Ridge

On Chicago’s Southwest Side, Garfield Ridge is home to Midway Airport. It has a significant first responder population and many senior citizens. (WTTW News)

On Chicago’s Southwest Side, Garfield Ridge is home to Midway Airport. It has a significant first responder population and many senior citizens. We talked with community leaders about the pandemic’s continuing health and economic impact — and one organization using wrestling to empower youth.

A Look at the Pullman National Monument Ahead of its Labor Day Weekend Opening

Six years ago President Barack Obama named the Pullman neighborhood a national monument. And Labor Day weekend, the visitor center in the old clock tower administration building will finally open. (WTTW News)

Six years ago President Barack Obama named the Pullman neighborhood a national monument. On Labor Day weekend, a new visitor center in the century-old clock tower will finally open. Geoffrey Baer visited Pullman to get an exclusive first look.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Revisiting Austin

Located on Chicago’s West Side, Austin is one of the city’s largest community areas — both by population and geography. (WTTW News)

Austin has dealt with decades of disinvestment and is acutely feeling the impact of gun violence. However, many residents, community organizations and local businesses are working to address some of the systemic issues the community faces and to bring investment to the area.

1 in 7 CPS Students Experiences Homelessness, Study Finds

(WTTW News)

Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Inclusive Economy Lab found that 26% of Black students at Chicago Public Schools experience homelessness during their academic tenure. We discuss those findings and what can be done to better support homeless students.

Back to School: CPS Interim CEO, City Health Official on Plans to Return to In-Person Learning

Students sit masked and socially distanced in a CPS classroom. (WTTW News)

Students and teachers at Chicago Public Schools head back to the classroom this month. We speak with the district’s interim CEO and an official from the health department about returning to school as COVID-19 cases rise.

‘Chicago Tonight’ In Your Neighborhood: Revisiting Rogers Park

(WTTW News)

As the delta variant spreads and COVID-19 case counts rise across the city and state, Rogers Park community leaders are focused on vaccine outreach efforts. Meanwhile, small businesses are in recovery mode and residents are preparing for new developments in the neighborhood.

Big Marsh Bike Program Raises Awareness of Transit Barriers on Southeast Side

(WTTW News)

The industrial history of Chicago’s Southeast Side has drawn criticism for its impact on the environment and residents’ health. Some say it also makes it difficult for residents to get around by foot or bike. How one South Deering program is working to change that.

West Side Youth Drum Line, Dance Team to Perform at Lollapalooza

Hope Junior Drumline and WestDance have been practicing three hours a day, five days a week since late June to prepare for their performance at Lollapalooza. (WTTW News)

Members of East Garfield Park’s Hope Junior Drumline and WestDance Team have been practicing three hours a day, five days a week since late June to prepare for their 10-minute performance at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

How Climate Change Impacts US and Global Migration

(WTTW News via CNN)

As rising sea levels, destructive floods, droughts and wildfires threaten communities in the U.S. and around the globe, some say governments need to prepare for more migration.

‘Black Voices’ Community Conversation: Pandemic’s Impact on Chicago Art Scene

A screenshot from the “Black Voices” community conversation on Monday, July 26, 2021. (WTTW News)

Angel Idowu and a panel of guests discuss the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of Chicago’s arts community. Watch the discussion now.

‘A Different Kind of Trauma’: How the Carceral System Impacts Black Women in the US

The Cook County Jail in Chicago. (WTTW News)

While the number of women in prisons is relatively small compared to the number of incarcerated men, the rate of female incarceration is on the rise. Black women in particular are overrepresented in the nation’s jails and prisons.

The Last Word: Black People Outside

Kameron Stanton and Chevon Linear give us the last word on “Chicago Tonight: Black Voices.” (WTTW News)

Meet travel enthusiasts Chevon Linear and Kameron Stanton who are using TikTok to encourage Black people to explore the outdoors. 

As Eviction Ban Ends, Housing Organizations Say Assistance Programs Will Be Key

In this file photo, houses sit behind metal fencing on a tree-lined street in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Residents and property owners in the city and state are seeking aid in recovering economic losses or securing housing. But for some Latino residents, language barriers and concerns over their immigration status keep them from getting the help they need.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Ravenswood

The Ravenswood community is neighbored by North Center and Lincoln Square, and there’s much disagreement over where the three neighborhoods’ borders end and begin. (WTTW News)

Eight miles north from the Loop, manufacturing buildings, Victorian homes and small businesses line Ravenswood’s streets. The community is neighbored by North Center and Lincoln Square, and there’s much disagreement over where the three neighborhoods’ borders end and begin.

Cuba Sees Unprecedented Protests Amid Economic Crisis

The Cuban flag. (Paul Brennan / Pixabay)

The island nation of Cuba has seen unprecedented demonstrations amid the country’s worst economic crisis in decades — and nearly 60 years into the United States’ embargo on the nation.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Revisiting North Lawndale

This week the area welcomed two new projects —  one bringing affordable homes and the other bringing jobs. We talk with community leaders about how these initiatives will strengthen the neighborhood and help residents build wealth. 

Phil Ponce Ends Regular Appearances on ‘Chicago Tonight’

(WTTW News)

After nearly three decades at “Chicago Tonight,” Phil Ponce ends his regular appearances on the program. We reflect on his career in journalism and his leadership role in the WTTW newsroom.

‘Latino Voices’ Community Conversation: Latino LGBTQ Experience

A screenshot from the “Latino Voices” community conversation on Monday, June 28, 2021. (WTTW News)

For our June event, we celebrate Pride Month by highlighting past and current leaders in the LGBTQ movement and the Latino experience within the community. Watch the full discussion.

Legislation to Address Period Poverty Heads to Governor’s Desk

(WTTW News)

Community organizations and state lawmakers are working to make menstrual products more accessible to Illinoisans who need them. We take a look at the issue in our Firsthand: Living in Poverty series.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Woodridge

Evidence of a tornado that tore through suburban Woodridge is visible June 24, 2021, just four days after the EF3 twister touched down. (WTTW News)

After a major tornado ripped through west suburban DuPage County, community members are picking up the pieces. For some, it will be a long road: more than 160 homes saw significant damage and about 30 were destroyed.