Handmade Jewelry and a Love for Our City
Chicago is an amazing city. We've called it home for several years now, and though our family sometimes thinks we're crazy for CHOOSING to live here (you call that a yard? there's no way you can parallel park in that spot! How do you sleep at night with all that noise?! ) we love the energy and grit of the City of Big Shoulders. Yes, sometimes things like finding parking spots, taking public transportation, or the constant hustle and bustle can be frustrating, but those are also some of the very things we love about living here. It's probably not as much that we like having to wait on a cold dark street corner in the rain for a bus... or that we like how long it takes to run errands with all the traffic...
But more that those things all make us feel like we're part of something bigger. It's this shared experience that brings us together.
Never have I had more conversations with complete strangers than while living in the city, because it's precisely the moment when you're standing in the rain with an umbrella and someone else walks up to the bus stop holding a paper bag over their head that you invite this person you don't know to stand just an inch away from you and you both laugh at the fact that the bus is late. The city has a way of almost forcing us out of our comfort zone of independence and pushing us into community.
So for us, our love of Chicago is much more than the glamour of the Mag Mile, or the energy and buzz of the loop, or the beauty of the lakeshore.
In fact it's actually because of all of its quirks, its histories, and its unique and diverse neighborhoods, and the way that all of these characteristics about it bring us together in sometimes surprising ways that we love Chicago so much.
We've seen many parts of the city while living here. From living on the near north side of the city to the west side of the city, and from visits and staycations that have taken us from Hyde Park, Chinatown, Pilsen, Little Village, and up through Lincoln Square, Albany Park, North Park and so on... we love exploring this vast and varied city. Its fascinating to see that one city can vary so dramatically seemingly block to block, and we both find ourselves noticing the unique challenges that face each demographic.
One thing we both feel strongly about is that our time in the city should be FOR the city.
This is our city. The people who live here are our neighbors. Before we started dating, we both had heard a message by a pastor of ours that talked about a biblical passage in Jeremiah where God told the people of Israel to "seek the welfare of the city" even though the city was not "theirs" - they were in exile in a foreign land. We're paraphrasing greatly... and the context is of course integral to the verse... but that message and concept has stuck with us as we see hardships and injustice that impact many parts of the city, and we desire to seek the welfare of those who live here.
We are both so thankful for our church family that is so passionate about serving the needs in the surrounding communities, and we love getting to play even a small part in that mission. One of the ministries we've loved learning more about through two of our good friends is New Life Centers, which is an after school program for the youth in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, in the west side of Chicago. There are several components to the centers, one of which is a jewelry business called Arise Creations
Arise Creations teaches teenage girls professional and entrepreneurial skills. Their pieces are beautiful and each one is handmade by one of the girls who is part of the program. We love the way each piece is unique and expressive and that it supports Chicago's youth!
We also LOVE the packaging and branding, and are definitely planning to gift some jewelry pieces for (ahem ... not talking about you mom, I swear) upcoming "events" ;)
We hope you'll take a look at the Arise Creations Etsy page and will think of Arise next time you're looking for a really meaningful gift for friends or family.
We also hope that this post encouraged and reminded you to think about how you can actually be part of the changes you want to see. Given everything taking place in our nation right now, it's perhaps more important than ever to advocate on behalf of others, seek the welfare of our city(ies), and create meaningful change by ALL coming together to participate in something bigger.
With Love From Chicago,
Daniel + Jennifer