Amanda Rivkin

Plan for Transformation

In 2011, the last public high rise building at the former Cabrini Green complex on Chicago's northwest side, 1231 N. Burling, met the wrecking ball. In 2007-2008, I spent several months following the Revolutionary Communists, followers of the reclusive Bob Avakian, that had found shelter in an apartment inside the building and utilized the space to encourage often skeptical residents to raise their voices in dissent. With much to lose and little in terms of material wealth, there was no revolution to speak of. However their vision presented an alternative to the Chicago Housing Authority's "Plan for Transformation," a city-wide effort to transform, or as critics charge, eliminate - public housing. Large swaths of prime Chicago real estate on the Near North, Near West and South Sides were turned over to for-profit developers at the height of the housing boom.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  One of the remaining high rise buildings left at the once sprawling Cabrini Green housing project on Chicago's Near North Side from the corridor of a Cabrini Green high rise at 1230 N. Burling on the northeast corner of North Halsted and Division Streets on December 18, 2007.  Once dubbed
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Grant Newburger, 50, a supporter of Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party, in his apartment at 1230 N. Burling, a Cabrini Green high rise, on the corner of North Halsted and Division Streets on Chicago's Near North Side, December 18, 2007.  Newburger has lived and worked as a community organizer at the once notorious and now partially demolished Cabrini Green since 1996, fighting the Chicago Housing Authority's
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Timothy
     
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Octavia Sanders, 32, in the stairwell at 1230 N. Burling, a Cabrini Green high rise building on the northeast corner of North Halsted and Division Streets, on December 18, 2007.  Sanders told Grant Newburger, 50, a supporter of Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party, that she was upset by an early morning raid in the building that saw the arrest of 16 tenants and by her 12 year old son's legal troubles after a police sergeant allegedly
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Grant Newburger (right), 50, an active supporter of Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party, consoles Herm Willis (left), 49, whose son was taken from his apartment in an early morning raid conducted that day by Chicago police and federal authorities on December 18, 2007.  Willis' son was one of 16 tenants accused of drug dealing in a federal indictment that resulted in a sweep of the building they both live in at 1230 N. Burling on the northwest corner of Halsted and Division Streets on Chicago's Near North Side. The arrest led to Willis' eviction from the Cabrini Green apartment he shared with his daughter and grandson four months later.
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Timothy
     
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Timothy
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  A Bob Avakian quote on the door of the apartment that Grant Newburger, 50, an active supporter of Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party, shares with two others on the second floor of a Cabrini Green high rise building at 1230 N. Burling on the northeast corner of North Halsted and Division Streets on December 18, 2007.
     
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Beauty Turner, Joseph Bakis, 38, Harold Hill, 34, and Grant Newburger, 50, a supporter of Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party, pass around 18 electric votives to commemorate the number of people shot and killed by Chicago police in 2007 at a rally of a dozen individuals organized by Newburger outside Chicago Police Headquarters on the corner of Michigan Avenue and 35th Street on December 20, 2007.
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  A young black male is stopped by a Chicago police officer and frisked in the middle of the Cabrini Green housing project on Chicago's Near North Side on February 8, 2008.
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Grant Newburger, 50, a supporter of Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party, with his wife, Mary Ann Quinn, 60, a supporter and editor for the Bob Avakian Revolutionary Communists newspaper, Revolution News, following a book discussion on Darwin Day, February 12, 2008, at the Revolution Bookstore in Wicker Park, one mile from Cabrini Green.  Quinn lives in Wicker Park while Grant spends most nights at his Cabrini Green apartment.
     
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  Herm Willis, 49, at the car wash where he works across the street from his former residence in a Cabrini Green high-rise at 1230 N. Burling on April 5, 2008.  Shortly after he was evicted from Cabrini Green a few weeks prior, Willis had found an apartment a mile from his former home.  A life-long Cabrini resident, Willis said he was asked to work at the car wash when the owner saw Willis washing windshields at the intersection where the carwash is located.
  
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.  1015 N. Larrabee meets the wrecking ball on December 27, 2007.  The