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Street-Level Youth Media is a non-profit, media arts literacy organization serving Chicago's youth.  We teach audio engineering, mixing, video production, digital photography, online journalism, and more.  If you are between the ages of 12 through 24, all of our programs and services are free.

If you live in Chicago and are between 12 - 24 years old, come take part in one or all of our media arts programs, book a private studio session, use our computer lab or join one of our clubs.  We also host an open-mic on the first Friday of each month.  

Mild Sauce

A Youth-Run Webzine From Chicago.

We're Still Marching Towards MLK's Promised Land



By Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Like my hero DJ Khaled might say, they don't want you to dream. Why? Because dreams are dangerous. They challenge what is with what could be. But in the 1960s, during the Civil Rights Movement, a lot of folks dared to dream of a time when young blacks like myself could walk with dignity and live without fear as first-class American citizens. Once those in power realized that they could never stop us from dreaming, they tried to trick us into believing we had already achieved that dream.

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I'm First



In 2014 it was estimated that 14 percent of graduating Chicago high school seniors will earn a four-year college degree. While this percentage continues to rise, so does the cost of tuition. All college-bound students must learn how to pay for a quality education, but not everyone has what’s needed to make their path to a degree less fraught. “I’m First” reveals the privilege and challenges that three first generation college students must learn to deal with.

Winter is the New Summer - Garfield Park Conservatory


By Emalee Kay Photos by Daniel Marques



During the cold winter months in Chicago it can be very easy to get into the habit of just staying home. For those looking to break the streak of ‘Netflix and chill’ this season, there are a number of fun and free things to do in the city this winter.

The first place that we are featuring in the ‘Winter is the new Summer’ series is The Garfield Park Conservatory. As you can assume, the location of this spot is in the west side neighborhood of Garfield Park in Chicago, Illinois. The Conservatory conveniently offers free parking and admission with the suggestion that if you have something to give, donations are accepted. If you are in need of public transportation, the Garfield Park Conservatory is located right off the Green line at the ‘Conservatory’ stop. The Conservatory is open daily 9a.m. to 5p.m. and until 8p.m. on Wednesday.   

Enough logistics though, what makes this place so awesome? Well, besides the fact that it is a warm place to hang out in the winter, the place is a giant indoor garden! The Conservatory features multiple types of gardens from multiple types of climate zones.

The first garden you enter is called the ‘Palm House’, featuring a warm and humid temperature that houses tropical palms and plants. The ‘Palm House’ section of the Garfield Park Conservatory features  a massive Scheelea Palm which the founders state “is probably the largest of its kind in any conservatory in the country. “

The center, and largest room in the conservatory, is the ‘Fern Room’. This epic piece of the conservatory was created in 1906 by designer Jen Jensen, and depicts her vision of  “giving the visitors a glimpse of what Illinois might have looked like millions of years ago. Featuring native ferns, rocky terrain, and a custom indoor lagoon completes the humid, damp, swampy atmosphere that was present in prehistoric Chicago.

Another great feature of the Garfield Park Conservatory is the ‘Sugar from the Sun’ installation. This room features many of the fruits that we buy at our local super markets growing from the source. Some of the plants that you can witness in action are grapefruits, oranges, bananas, lemons, limes, and a cinnamon tree! If this isn't’ enough the exhibit also features landmarks throughout the trail explaining and depicting the process of photosynthesis.

These are just a couple of the rooms featured in the wonderful Garfield Park Conservatory, others include; The Children's Garden, The Dessert House, The Aroid House, The (seasonal) Show House, and The Horticultural Hall. These are of course the ones that are open during the winter months, during the summer there is a whole world of things to explore outside as well! Another reason to head to the Garfield Park Conservatory is the fact that they offer several low cost classes that teach anything from composting to beekeeping. So the next time you are bored, looking for an inexpensive place to take a date, maybe babysitting, or have some time to kill, check out the amazing Garfield Park Conservatory!    


Garfield Park Conservatory 300 North Central Park Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60624-1945
Daily Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Wednesdays: 9 am - 8 pm Admission is FREE!
Main Phone:

Luftwerk x Perrier Concert Series FREE Event JAN 20th..Click to read more

Draii BLAC "GHZ" -"The Golden Era" EP connects hip hop with video games



by Me'Chelle -

Draii BLAC has been apart of Street Level programs going on 3 years now. He is a multitalented artist with a ear for good sound. He's a lyricist and a producer with a unique style.

"The Golden Era" EP connects hip hop with video games. Each instrumental was recreated with video game samples of his childhood."GHZ" is a beat that samples the video Game "Sonic".

Guys can wear kilts, too.



Produced by Loan Nay, 16 I’m a girl who doesn’t dress femininely, so people make assumptions about my identity. I don’t like this whether the assumption is true or not because it’s uncomfortable that people who don’t know me feel that they can assume things because of the fabric I’m comfortable in. The way a person dresses shouldn’t be an open invitation to make assumptions about someone’s identity, but that’s how it gets treated in our society.  I talked with Shane Calvin about how people generally perceive someone based on how they dressed. I was curious to ask Shane if people make assumptions about his sexuality because of the way he dresses.


Gone But Not Forgotten



by Justine Ogbevire

As a participant of discussions about police brutality ,involving young african american youth and young adults, as a circle keeper in the '' Gone But Not Forgotten'' a monthly peace circle held at Blocks Together in the heart of the West Humboldt Park community in Chicago, I realized that I want to talk about this issue that happens in our community.

I decided to create this video, after the emotional impact of hearing these people stories. The moment I  sat down and recorded the voices from the participants reading about 30 heartbroken cases in how they lost their loved ones.  These victims were innocent in the first place, and through the articles that were read to represent the victim as a criminal, It was spoken otherwise from the fonts in between the cases that did not comprehend on why the reason they should be  brutally murder.

If you want to join the community circle; Blocks Together is a membership based organization that works together for systematic changes in the community to bring concrete improvement into people's life.

For more information:

Blocks Together

 3711 West Chicago Ave.

What We Know About the Double Killing by Chicago Cops This Weekend


Screen-Shot-2015-12-29-at-11.48.11-AM-e1453220252978.png Nineteen-year-old Quintonio LeGrier wasn't exactly in the holiday spirit last week. The honor roll student who ran in a marathon for charity two years ago skipped dinner on Christmas, and when his father, Antonio, returned home that night, they argued. At one point before dawn on Saturday, LeGrier—who had recently been hospitalized for dehydration and hyperactivity, and whose mother says he was mentally ill—began brandishing a metal baseball bat. His father called the cops, and warned a neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, about what was going on.


Funding the Future


CHICAGO, IL - JULY 11: Students and parents protest outside the office of Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale on July 11, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The group was protesting funding and staff cuts to their neighborhood schools. Earlier this year Chicago Public Schools announced it will close more than 50 elementary schools shifting 30,000 students and eliminating or relocating 1,000 teaching jobs as the school board tries to rein in a looming $1 billion budget deficit. 


Photo: Scott Olson/Getty images

Transitioning to a New World



By Susannah Mitchell This year, 2015, has been an extremely important year in terms of transgender (trans) history. The stories of transgender people have been featured on television and in movie theaters, a high-profile celebrity announced her transition and President Barack Obama is the first president to ever use the word “transgender” in a State of the Union address. But despite the breakthroughs that have come in 2015 alone, there is still progress to be made.

It is estimated that roughly .3 percent of Americans are transgender. That’s about 700,000 individuals. The United States Census Bureau does not ask participants about their gender identity, which makes it difficult to have a concrete number when it comes to the trans population in the United States. With the current estimates, however, it could be assumed that somewhere around 21,400 transgender people are living in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.

E.A. Francis is one of them. Francis, who uses the pronouns “they” and “them,” grew up and currently resides in the South Suburbs. They were raised as a woman but, growing up, hated the constraints that came with being socialized that way.

“I understood that I hated how I felt when I tried to be feminine,” Francis said. “Special events made me uncomfortable because of the expectations of the outfits.”

Francis wasn’t aware of what it meant to be transgender until high school, when they first heard of the term. They had been raised in a Catholic environment where gender identity wasn’t really discussed, and since coming out as trans several years ago, Francis has had to educate their family about what it means to be trans.

“It has been a several year process to [educate] and demand respect from family,” Francis said. “I am accepting of my changes and am finally on testosterone. It can be an intimidating process to realize that I was socialized as a woman but am not a woman, [so] I now must learn certain social standards of being masculine.”

Along with adjusting to different social expectations in relation to gender, trans people also face many different kinds of obstacles living in the U.S. The unemployment, harassment and assault rates for transgender people are extremely high.

In a survey done by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 13 percent of transgendered people surveyed were unemployed, which was double the national average at the time the survey was taken. This number is event higher for transgender people of color, of which 26 percent who are unemployed are black, 18 percent are Latino, and 17 percent are multiracial. Twenty-six percent of those surveyed also lost their jobs due to their gender identity or expression. Francis has also had to hide their gender identity at certain jobs to avoid being fired.

Harassment and violence are also extremely prevalent issues for trans people. In 2015 alone, 23 transwomen were killed, which is almost twice as many that were killed in 2014. Ignorance and prejudice are highly reported with trans people, however, almost half of those who responded to a survey done by the National Center for Transgender Equality and The Task Force stated they were uncomfortable reporting incidences of harassment to the police. Of those who did, 22 percent of them in turn reported harassment by the police. The issues of ignorance and bigotry are also prevalent in trans people’s lives. According to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network 74 percent of trans youth have been sexual harassed in school because of their gender identity, while 55 percent have been physically attacked because of it. Others, like Francis, have experience more verbal harassment.

“I have had ignorance spewed at me by family,” Francis said. “There were many hostile looks and comments during my time traveling through the Bible Belt. [But] there are also select people that are very kind.”

Although TIME has referred to 2015 as the “Transgender Tipping Point,” and the trans equality movement as “America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier,” the statistics point to a need for more organization and more activism.

In Chicago alone, there are many organizations that exist solely to help uplift the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer population. The Center on Halsted, which has been around since 1973, is “the Midwest's most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland,” according to their website. They provide several different outreach programs for youth, and they also aim to prepare LGBTQ people for the workforce with training and GED programming.

Two other organizations that provide assistance and support to LGBTQ people are Chicago House and Howard Brown Health. Chicago House works to provide housing, employment services, medical help (including HIV prevention services) and legal services, among other things. Howard Brown Health has several locations in Chicago, and similarly works to provide support.

Francis has utilized both the Center on Halsted as well as Howard Brown Health. They have directed several short plays and participated in a reading at the Center on Halsted, and they use Howard Brown Health regularly for concerns more directly related to their health.

“The Howard Brown [Health] center is the reason I have insurance, therapy, access to educated doctors, hormones and a supportive ear,” Francis said. Without centers like these that exist to support the transgender population of Chicago, it is without a doubt that the near 21,400 trans people living in Chicago would be at a great disadvantage. Though the United States is, supposedly, at the transgender tipping point, it is only with continued activism and support that the transgender community can truly be uplifted.


Black People Love Their Watermelon



Reported and produced by: Jamyia Sheppard, 16 On Mondays, Jewel, the grocery store, sells chicken for cheaper than they usually would. It's called 'Cheep Chicken Monday'. Since forever I've been faced with the stereotype that all black people like chicken and that's not necessarily true. I'm black and I just happen to like chicken. Every Monday this white boy in my physics class asks me, "Are you going to get your Cheep Chicken today?". Sometimes I would be okay with it, but inside I still question 'Why is it necessary to ask me this every week?'. This is offensive to me not only because he asks me every week, but because it's a form of microaggression, I don't think he knows how racist he is being.



by Susannah Mitchell

The dictionary defines the word “stereotype” as “an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.” Stereotypes are ever-present in today’s society, and stereotyping is a common practice, no matter what group one is a part of.


“When people say stereotypes are gone…” Sheppard said. “They’re still there, lingering.”From the foods that she eats to how she styles her hair, Sheppard says that people make certain assumptions about who she is because she is African American. It is because of these false beliefs that she decided to record a podcast about stereotyping and to uncover why many people tend to rely on it, and what they think of it.

Before she even began her podcast, Sheppard had to first learn what one was. After that, she chose her topic, making sure to pick one that had depth, and that was easy to understand and relate to. Then, she began researching and selecting interview subjects, as well as figuring out the form her podcast would take: whether it would be a narrative or a Q&A. Once she’d done all of that work and made her decisions, she began recording.

One of the difficulties Sheppard faced during this process was finding people to interview. Several times she forgot to press the “record” button on her recorder, meaning she would have to keep interviewing different people. Another issue was finding the right times to interview people, because everyone had varying schedules.

The final step in creating Sheppard’s podcast was editing everything together. This was her favorite part of the whole process, because she was able to play around with the audio editing software and add her own “personal touch” to the podcast.

“I just liked…making the whole thing flow,” Sheppard said. “Taking bits and pieces and making one big thing.”

The whole process took about two weeks. During this time, Sheppard said she learned how to research and find factual information to back up her own personal views. She also learned how to get the people she was interviewing to open up more, and how to get more information for her podcast from them.

Sheppard hopes that by listening to her podcast, people will learn to not be so quick to stereotype others. She thinks that this will lead to the questioning of discrimination and other issues with how we perceive people.

“We are all people at the end of the day,” Sheppard said. “In the dark you can’t tell who’s black or who’s white. It’s all a matter of thought.”


I Have Questions & He Has Answers



Reporter and producer: Lisette Martinez, 16 I still remember my very first Bulls game. I think I was around 12 years old and they were playing, at that time, the New Jersey Nets. They are now called the Brooklyn Nets. I knew from the moment I walked into the United Center that I wanted to be around all the excitement that the team brings to the city. Music was playing, fans were cheering even before the game everyone is in a good mood. I just loved it and I love the sport of basketball. Recently, I got the chance to interview Bulls sports reporter K.C. Johnson about his job.


Here are the steps I took to interview K.C.:

  1. Research sports reporters. There were a lot I picked a few that looked interesting to me.
  2. Narrow down your choices. From the three or four that I liked I researched each name.
  3. Then send out emails requesting an interview. Be patient. If you don't hear back after a few days. FOLLOW UP!
  4. Once you get in contact with your interviewee, you set up a time and date for your interview.
  5. Create questions.  After coming up with questions it's best to have an editor or someone who can review your questions and give you suggestions on how to make them better.
  6. Now interview. - For the interview with K.C. we used a bit of i-phone magic. K.C. was in Phoenix, AZ reporting on a Bulls game. We asked him to call us from his hotel room landline. He used his i-phone to record himself while on the phone with me. On our side of things, I was recorded. After the interview K.C. shared his audio from his i-phone.
  7. Once you have all all the audio you can start editing. :)

And that's it !

Merging Two Worlds: Life in Mexico and the U.S.



By Susannah Mitchell  

Mexico and the United States are two entirely different worlds. At least, to Lisette Martinez, they are. Martinez’s family immigrated to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, first to Arizona, and then to Chicago. Currently, most of Martinez’s family lives together in the Brighton Park neighborhood.

The contrast between Mexico and the U.S. is prevalent in Martinez’s life, but it’s the differences in culture that are the most apparent to Martinez. From the tortillas they sell at the grocery store to the attitudes of the people outside of her family, she’s noticed several disparities.

One example of this is the holiday of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Typically celebrated from October 31 to November 2, the Mexican holiday is intended to honor the lives of lost loved ones. The neighborhood of Pilsen, which is close to where Martinez’s family lives, holds several celebrations each year for the holiday.These include parades, festivals, balls and more, where Chicago residents can participate in the holiday by dressing up, painting their faces or creating memorials for the deceased.

Dia de los Muertos is a widely-celebrated holiday in Mexico, however, it is not as commonly celebrated in the U.S. But neighborhoods across the U.S., like Pilsen, host large populations of Mexican immigrants and Americans of Mexican heritage who are trying to make this part of their culture more active in America. And it’s because of this blend of cultures, the differences between them and Martinez’s close ties to her family, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, that she decided to make a podcast about her family’s experience.

Martinez started off by brainstorming ideas. Once she’d picked her podcast topic, she began interviewing her family members and recording sounds, such as traditional Mexican music, to help the transitions between interviews. After that, she began the editing process and had everything finished within a week.

The editing was the hardest part of the process, according to Martinez. Puzzling every piece of audio together to make everything sound right was difficult, and she wasn’t very experienced using the computers provided by Street-Level Youth Media or the editing software. Even though Martinez said that she was shaky in the beginning, by the time she finished her podcast she’d gotten the hang of everything.

Recording the podcast, interviewing and being interviewed were all new experiences for Martinez and her family. During the interviewing process Martinez found out information about her grandmother that she hadn’t known, such as her grandmother being unable to focus in school when she was younger because she was always hungry. Martinez found that learning information like this, and being able to speak casually with her family, were what made the interviewing aspect of podcasting easy and fun.

Grandmasmile      Heribertha Hernandez, photo by Daniel MarquesKitchen         Lisette Martinez, Heribertha Hernandez, photo by Daniel MarquesShrine

Photo by Daniel Marques

By listening to her podcast, Martinez hopes to inform listeners about Mexican culture and what it is like to be a part of a different culture. She wants her work to help others consider something different, and to open them up to a new world.

My Sister's Mental Heath



Reported and produced by: Lauren Delgado, 16 Mental health is an important issue in many teenagers' lives.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10 to 24 year-olds.  Of these adolescents who committed suicide, 90% had a known mental health issues. About 20% of people aged 13 to 18 have a diagnosable mental disorder, that's one in every five teens.  One of the teens included in this 20% is my nineteen year-old sister, Kaitlyn. She's a real example of someone affected by a mental illness. In this interview my sister shares her experiences from her many hospitalizations and diagnoses and how she coped with it all.

Produced by Lauren Delgado, 16


High School Stress and Coping



Produced by Loan Nay, 16 It seems that the more time that passes by, the more stressed out high school students get. The competition for college admissions and scholarships get more intense, thus creating higher levels of extreme stress in most students. The pressure on teenagers to succeed and do better than everyone else is rather harmful. When you have millions of teenagers all competing each other to be the best, it does create motivation and leads to some good things, but in the long run it's detrimental to their mental and physical health.

Short term stress causes anxiety. Anxiety is pretty manageable. How about long term stress? According to the Atlantic, long term stress means there are more stress hormones, which can degrade the immune system, cause heart problems, and lead to chronic anxiety and depression. This is terrible for growing teenagers who have not fully developed yet. Since completing getting rid of stress is clearly not an option, the only thing teens can do is look for ways to cope. USA Today mentions some ways teens cope with stress is by playing video games, surfing the internet, exercising or walking, watching TV or movies, and playing sports.

Merging Two Worlds: Life in Mexico and the U.S.



Produced by Lisette Martinez, 17

17- year old Lisette Martinez lives between two countries, Mexico and the U.S. In this episode of 4 Peas in a Podcast she talks with family members about this experience has shaped her family.

Lisette says moving around between the two countries has helped her mature and appreciate her life in the U.S. Now living in the U.S she says misses Mexico and hopes to one day move back.




Quverius "Q" Clayton is a music producer and rapper that goes by the name "QDaPharoah" and comes from Chicago's West Side. His song "Fashionista" is about keeping a optimistic outlook in life regardless of the situation you are in. Q hopes that this video will remind people to be grateful for what they have.

Desire for Peace



"Desire for Peace" is a song calling for peace in the world, and it's a brief description of what King Swazi describes as his ideal utopia.

King Swazi is a multitalented artist from the East Side of Chicago. He's a visual artist, singer, lyricist, poet and actor. His desire is to inspire people through the many forms of art that he creates. He believes that while we are living, we can be great at everything we wish to achieve.


How To Start Your Own VoxPop


  1. Pick your topic, it can be anything you want it to be.  ex. What’s your biggest fear? When was the last time you felt guilty? What’s your favorite food combination?
  2. Come up with an open-ended question so that your answers can have variety.
  3. Find a recorder and some headphones and go out on the street, in the hallways of your school, to a movie theater lobby or anywhere with a lot of people. Ask people your question, but be sure to introduce yourself and your project to the interviewee.
  4. When interviewing, be sure to press the record button and hold the mic close to the person who is speaking.
  5. If the answer is very interesting, follow up on it! You never know what you may get.
  6. When you are done interviewing, make sure to stop your recording so it can save in a file.
  7. Upload that audio to your PC and edit it using your software. (Audacity is a free audio-editing software.)

Other Resources:

Radio Rookies: DIY Tool Kit How to Make a Vox Pop BBC: Open and Closed Questions


Check out the Mild Sauce Media Team came up with for their VoxPop.





There are approximately 2.7 million residents living in the city of Chicago. Occupants inhabit 237 square miles of land and make use of 26 miles of lakefront. While Chicago is a densely-populated area, work and obligations can make for an impersonal existence. “Two Million To One” is a series that captures the more intimate moments of people’s lives. It intends to give voice and meaning to otherwise nameless faces and remind one another of our shared humanity. Communities can take on many different identities through the course of one day. Student photographer Lee Martin wanted to explore his hometown of Austin and capture the true reputation of his notorious neighborhood. From dawn until dusk he roamed the streets. He discovered that in spite of being a life-long resident, he feels like an outsider.