Check Out Films at Talking Pictures Festival!

Now in its third year, the Talking Pictures Festival celebrates independent films from around the world mixed with brand new offerings by local filmmakers. The festival will take place April 14 – 17, 2011.

This year the Festival is proud to present two inspiring documentaries that confront head-on the issues of sexual and domestic violence – TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives, about the way art transforms a sexual abuse survivor’s life at Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project, and Sin By Silence, which documents a group of incarcerated women advocating against domestic violence.

Another film titled “Concrete, Steel, and Paint” focuses on how restorative justice can be used to build bridges between prisoners and community members.

More information about these films, as well as others in the Festival, can be found at here.

Reflections from a Girl Talk Program Facilitator…

By Melina Mebane

By Bonnie Trafelet (taken at Girl Talk session Feb 26th 2011)

My first experience going to JTDC was eye opening. After reading “Girls in Trouble With the Law“, I was able to going into the experience with a more critical eye. After arriving to the classroom with JTDC, the setting was exactly the same as the orientation we were given. I was very comfortable and confident that the whole experience would go very well.

After setting up for the project, all of the facilitators were engaging in casual conversation and without warning the girls were brought into the classroom. This moment knocked me off my center. It seemed to occur in slow motion. All of us immediately ceased speaking and looked to the girls, some were sizing up our intentions. As the facilitators stood there, the girls walked passed us. I felt conflicted. I thought, “Do I smile or not? Will that make me look like I’m trying too hard?” I instinctively smiled because that’s my nature, and I couldn’t try to deny it if I wanted to.

The first pod of girls was instructed by Mykel to sit on one side of the projector and the second pod sat on the other. They were asked one row at a time to line up and get a snack and drink. After getting settled in, the facilitators stood up in front of the projector screen, introduced ourselves and the movie. There were some technical difficulties with the projector so a couple of use stood in front and played “Two Truths and a Lie.” The girls seemed to like it, but they were putting each other down in the process. One girl said, “I’ll go! I’m ugly, I’m in JTDC, and I’m pregnant.” The others responded with “I don’t know what the lie is ‘cuz you’re ugly” followed by laughter from both parties. It was a sense of humor I was unfamiliar with.

As we watched Quincenera, a few girls spoke out during the movie. The parts that evoked chatter were those involving the main characters gay cousin and when the father apologized to the main character for suggesting she was a liar and a sinner. One of the girls yelled out “jokingly,” “Why couldn’t my dad say that to me?” I enjoyed the movie, but I was hoping the girl would have gotten pregnant as a result of actually having sex, not the suggested Immaculate Conception. I felt it cheated the girls of the opportunity to sincerely sympathize with the character. There were pregnant girls in the audience who have had to deal with the real life situation that may or may not have involved parental disappointment and alienation because of their actions, and although the movie dealt with those subjects, it was on false pretenses.

After the movie ended, we moved onto the project. We made future representations of ourselves using glitter glue, markers and magazine cutouts. Many of the girls had very positive “future selves” including characteristics like lady-like, role model, successful, and loyal. All I wanted to do was encourage and foster those kinds of goals. I was impressed at how all of the facilitators were flexible and positive even given there was a shortage of us. I really had fun making the craft, but I found it difficult to engage the girls in conversation. I think what we did was great, but I left wanting to do more.

Dinner and Dialogue with Girl Talk: April 20th

Art Created By Young Woman At JTDC

April 20 “Dinner and Dialogue with Girl Talk

Girl Talk is a bi-weekly girl-specific project held on Saturdays in the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center (JTDC).

We are co-sponsored by Project NIA, UIC faculty, the UIC Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, and the Female Offender Services Program at the Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department.

We would like to invite you to join us for dinner and discussion about gender-responsive policy and our work at JTDC.

WHAT: Dinner with appetizers and dessert
DATE: Wednesday, April 20, 2011
TIME: 6:00PM to 8:30PM
WHERE: UIC Student Center West, Chicago Room
828 S. Wolcott Ave
ADMISSION: Free but Pre-Registration is Required. Register here.

We strongly suggest that those attending the dinner read the following article and look through the following online report about the criminalization of girls in Chicago to prepare for the discussion.

Space is limited and you can register for the event here. Remember that PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Feel free to share the flyer for the event with others.

Save These Dates…

Girl Talk has a number of exciting upcoming events and we hope that you will join us from some of them.

Wednesday April 20th 2011
6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Girl Talk Chicago Dinner and Dialogue
You are invited to join members of the Girl Talk leadership team and our volunteer program facilitators for dinner and a conversation about gender-responsive programming for girls in the juvenile legal system.
Stay tuned for information about how to register for this event.

Saturday, May 14th 2011
11:30 to 1 p.m.
Girl Talk Information Session
Potential Volunteer Program Facilitators can join members of the leadership team to learn about the program and how you can participate. If you are between the ages of 19 and 35 years old, you are invited to this session. More information about location will be forthcoming.

Saturday, May 14th 2011
1:00 to 3 p.m.
Recognition Event for Current Girl Talk Volunteers
More information will be forthcoming

Saturday, June 4th 2011
10:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Location: TBD
Orientation Session for Potential Volunteers
Potential volunteers who attend the May information session and decide that they want to participate in our work are invited to this training that covers important information about working with girls in conflict with the law.

The Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls Website is Live!

We are excited to announce the launch of the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls’ website and online report, with its recommendations on how to end violence against girls and young women in Chicago! We invite you to visit the website at

Based on Roundtable discussions and surveys of dozens of organizations from across Chicago the website is a roadmap for the Taskforce’s action steps to end violence against girls and young women.

UNDERSTANDING VIOLENCE AGAINST GIRLS: The website looks at 5 interrelated forms of violence against girls and young women:

For each, it offers concrete data about violence against girls, and identified issues & needs in the field. The Taskforce is committed to highlighting great work happening across the city as well, and for each section you can read about organizations that are doing innovative work.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ENDORSED BY 40 ORGANIZATIONS: A highlight of the website is a set of recommendations for Chicago Public Schools, Cook County, and the State of Illinois, as well as organizations, foundations and researchers. These recommendations have been endorsed by 40 organizations, representing youth groups, domestic violence and sexual assault groups, city and statewide agencies, policy organizations, and more.

TOOLS & RESOURCES: The website offers tools & resources that groups can use in their own work. The resource page includes data sheets, reports and curricula, all free for downloading. And the Occasional Papers series offers evaluations of innovative programs, and evaluation tools that organizations can access.

Girl Talk is proud to be featured on the website.

Free Screening: Me Facing Life – This Saturday

If you are in Chicago on Feb 19th, please consider joining us for this event.

2004: Cyntoia within three weeks following her arrest for murder

Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story takes a hard look at some of the complex social issues concerning a 16-year-old girl who is serving a life sentence for murder. Cyntoia Brown found herself in a series of bad situations that led to her killing a man who picked her up for sex. The filmmaker spent nearly six years exploring her life and familial relationships in order to answer a very basic question… why? This documentary pushes aside assumptions about what we think about violence and takes a glance into a startling social mirror that reveals a strong connection between violence in her maternal line and a predestined childhood filled with bad decisions.

Following the film, there will be a reading of a poem written in prison by Jacqueline Montanez, who was given a life sentence in Illinois at the age of 15. Then Mariame Kaba from Project NIA will lead a discussion about the high rate of youth incarceration in the U.S. and the inherent flaws of our juvenile justice system.

Shobha Mahadev, Project Director, Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children
Sharmili Majmudar, Executive Director, Rape Victim Advocates
Vikki Rompala, LCSW, Chicago Child Trauma Center at La Rabida Children’s Hospital
Twyanda Major, Visible Voices (CLAIM)
Dominique McKinney, Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP)
Moderator: Mariame Kaba, Founder, Project NIA

Saturday, February 19, 2011, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., Chicago
In the Claudia Cassidy Theatre

This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP needed.

We are asking attendees to please bring a new young adult book to the screening to donate to incarcerated youth at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and IYC- Warrenville

To see the trailer, click here.

Presented by Project NIA, The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, ITVS and WTTW Channel 11 in collaboration with the exhibition, Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art.

** Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story will have its premiere on the Peabody and Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by America Ferrera, on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 10 PM (check local listings).

Using Voices Not Fists: Poetry Slam

Did you know February is teen dating violence awareness month???

Between Friends (a nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and abuse is hosting this awesome event!

In Honor of Non-Violence, a night of poetry:

For: Youth who have something to say(though everyone is encouraged to attend)

When: Saturday Feb, 26th 4-6pm

Where: Pressure Billiards Cafe 6318 N Clark St. Chicago, IL

POETS: if you’d like to read please rsvp to


Facilitator Post: Alyssa Beck

We had a second successful GirlTalk Saturday.  We screened Real Women Have Curves and worked with the girls on the activity that expressed their interpretation of beauty.  We used magazines, markers, glitter pens, and cut out tracings of ourselves for the girls to express what beauty meant to them. Interacting, relating to the girls, as well as participating with them the young women seemed to gain a degree of respect for us facilitators.  Some of the girls we are beginning to get to know us.  The girls were very enthusiastic with this activity on beauty and anxious to show and explain what they created.  As their interpretations of beauty were displayed on the walls for all the girls to view, you can look way beyond “girls in detention” and you see their inner beauty as the young women they really are.

-Alyssa Beck




What is Beauty?

Restoring Hope After Trauma Conference



When: Saturday, March 12th, 2011 10am to 7pm
Where: Northwestern University School of Law
374 E. Chicago, Chicago, IL 60611
Space is LIMITED


The goal of the conference is to invite youth leaders from Illinois to learn about trauma and what it means, to learn about resources and ways that youth cope and have hope after trauma, to gain ideas from youth about what is important for adults to know about their experiences, and to have a celebration at the end of the day.

You will learn about various topics including but not limited to:
1.      Trauma- How to cope with and survive after.
2.      Community Violence-  Understanding what resources there are and how to protect yourself
3.      Dating Violence- How to have healthy relationships
4.      Self-Care- How to care for others while still taking care of yourself.
5.      Networking- What other youth organizations are doing and how you can get connected to their work.

The event is being offered at NO COST to participants thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Northwestern University, Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition, Urban Youth Trauma Center at UIC, and La Rabida Children’s Hospital Chicago Child Trauma Center.  This event was organized by La Rabida Children’s Hospital’s Chi-Town Youth Voices, a group whose main focus is about helping youth cope with life after trauma.

Snacks, Lunch, and Dinner will be provided.

You can complete an application online here:

NOTE: Completing an application DOES NOT guarantee that you are registered.  All confirmed registrations will be announced by February 20th, 2011.  Unfortunately not everyone who applies will be able to attend this event.  We will make every effort to adequately document the event and will create a public record of what happened so that those who weren’t present can still participate.


Hurry up and get your application in.  This promises to be an insightful and powerful event!

Our first Saturday at JTDC

We successfully had our first GirlTalk Saturday, and it felt awesome!!  Despite some technical difficulties, we screened Akeelah and the Bee(which seemed to go over well).  Our activity was a series of collages, one about adversity, and the other about overcoming that adversity.  Using magazines, markers, glitter, and colored pencils, the girls created some very meaningful pieces.  Many girls were very eager to talk to us, and tell us about themselves: their hopes, their likes, their dislikes, their taste in music etcetc.  With all the training and institutional procedures, it becomes easy to forget that these are teenage girls with, largely normal, likes and interests.

Stay tuned for more detailed entries from some of our facilitators!!