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?