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Albany Park Autonomous Center
The Albany Park Autonomous Center, or Centro Autónomo
is located in Albany Park, Chicago, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country. The Centro opened its doors in September of 2006 to create a space that constructs community, builds political consciousness, and unites people in and around the Latin@ immigrant struggle.
The Centro Autónomo is a community center in every sense of the word. It is a place where people meet their neighbors, share stories and dreams, and create community-driven projects for empowerment. In this time of extreme anti-immigrant sentiment and free trade regimes that demolish economies, our space serves as a place to reconstruct the collectivity which the current economic system is very efficient at destroying.
The practice of community-building is rooted in monthly asambleas and weekly meetings with different committees established by community members. When the Centro opened, English classes were set by the community as a main priority, and they began with 5 students taking classes three days a week. From these five students word of mouth spread through Albany Park and classes slowly filled. Now fifty to eighty people participate in popular education-based ESL classes at the Centro.
Through decisions made in asambleas the Centro Autónomo has initiated many other programs. In addition to ESL, there are cooperatives, computer classes, youth art programs, women's groups, parties, zumba, yoga, and writing workshops.
A diploma-granting bilingual adult high school began in September of 2010, and in January 2012 community members facing foreclosure and eviction began meeting at the Centro to build collective strategies for staying in their homes.
Here is a newsletter compiled by the 2013 high school students with descriptions of all the Centro's programs.
If you would like more information, please call our office number at 773-583-7728, or direct yourself to the specified tabs.
En el Centro Autónomo unimos nuestra fuerza con mujeres, hombres, jóvenes, nin@s y vecin@s con los cuales compartimos esperanzas, sueños, ideas, donde en forma de Caracol dialogamos, desaprendemos y nos reconocemos con gente que viene desde abajo. Caminando de forma circular seguimos buscando espacios donde nuestras voces sean escuchadas. Queda entonces este espacio como un referente para dialogar, comunicarnos, respetarnos, solidarízanos y enlazar resistencias.
At the Autonomous Center we unite our strength with women, men, young people, children and neighbors, with whom we share hopes, dreams, and ideas. Using the conch (spiral) as a model we dialogue, learn and relearn as we identify ourselves with people who come from below. Proceeding in circular form we continue to explore spaces where our voices can be heard. Using this space as a springboard for dialogue, communication, and to respect amongst one another we support and link popular resistance.
The Autonomous Center is looking for volunteers to provide a once, twice or thrice-weekly commitment for eight weeks to facilitate popular education-based ESL classes for adults.
ESL tutor training will be provided.
The more volunteers we get, the smaller the class size, making the students' limited time more productive.
Please email us at centro [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org if you're interested.
Centro Autónomo de Albany Park
Mexico-US Solidarity Network
3460 W. Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
Email: centro [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org