I am very glad to continue to join VCL this Spring, and I am very excited to see the richness and changes of the conference content, based on last semester’s lab schedule, we have added a lot of precious time for professor’s lectures this semester. At the same time, the lab is more focused on teamwork and discussion, and there are separate teams within the Chicago/Tokyo team to work on different topics. This makes the one-hour meeting time on Tuesday afternoons very valuable and exciting.

This semester, I am new to the Chicago team and starting a new journey of exploring urban issues. Our Chicago team visualized social and cultural histories in the city’s spaces. We began by surveying Chicago’s major neighborhoods to gather information about their social histories, migration patterns, institutions, and spatial development. The main task was to start with a major article on the fair published in the Guardian and try to pick out some themes. We linked them to some readings we did in the very important publication Metropolis Noir (1945), a sociological and cultural study of Bronzeville. So we started making an Omeka/Neatline map to help us think about the main themes in Bronzeville during the publication of the fair and Metropolis Noir (1934-1945). Because I don’t have much research and knowledge about Chicago, the most impressive thing is that this is the prototype of Gotham City in the movie Batman, the capital of sin. So initially, I focused on the issue of social security, what caused Chicago to remain chaotic today, is it a historical legacy? So, I found two articles in the Guardian that had a specific geographic basis, first, Introduction of Jim Crow in Chicago Suburb Leads to Riot. And the second was Army Race Riots Grow! Through these two reports, I learned that much of the unrest at the time stemmed from racial issues, and that the damage continues to this day. We then explored how to bring everyone’s information together on the Neatline map, how to use the timeline to present the information, and what colors to use to mark the dots. Finally, we completed this socio-spatial map, using Context, Community as shifting approaches to explore the main topic. For Context: Regal Theater, Southside Community Arts Center, CHA; For Community: People’s Forum Medinah Temple.

We actually put together some reflective discussion questions for the final meeting but couldn’t carry them out at the time due to time limitations. If you have a chance to read this blog, I hope it can cause some of you to think about it. What were your workflows, challenges, limitations, and triumphs? What major connective themes have you noticed through engaging in the cities of VCL? What were your takeaways, aspects that you want to input into their own interests (anything from course syllabi introduced in VCL)? Would you like to continue exploring urban issues in the future? For the last question, my answer is yes! I am grateful to VCL for giving us an opportunity to explore a common and dynamic approach to studying world cities. It was an honor to meet all the professors and students at VCL, and I look forward to seeing you again on campus in the future!