Vocalo Radio

Chicago's Urban Alternative

Current track



Vocalo’s Storytelling Workshop: Fall 2022

Written by on January 19, 2023

This fall, Vocalo’s quarterly Storytelling Workshop offered another round of free training and hands-on experience for Chicago storytellers.

The fall session of the workshop was led by Vocalo storytelling producer Ari Mejia and co-facilitated by artist and producer Ariana Martinez. The workshop showcased seven storytellers from across Chicago and each participant produced audio segments covering topics from immigration, Black art sanctuaries and hidden finds in the Chicagoland area. 

Get to know the Fall 2022 participants and their pieces below.

Photo courtesy of Tonal Simmons.

Tonal Simmons: “Black Artscapes in Chicago”

Black Artscapes in Chicago discusses how Black art and artist are an extension of Chicago and art. From the Wall of Respect to the Black Arts Movement of the ’70s all the way to today’s art scene, where Black artists are transforming homes and corner stores into artist galleries. We will be talking to Tia Lorena of TeaHouse Collective in Greater Grand Crossing and Makafui and Ryel of Fourtune House Art Center in Bronzeville, both located on the Southside of Chicago.

Resources used are BAM: The Black Arts Movement in Chicago, Art for People’s Sake: Chicago Black Arts Movement and Lessons from the Black Arts Movement.

Tonal Simmons is a Black queer non-binary artist writing about DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within art, creating with chronic conditions and lack of access to art for Black and Brown creatives.

Photo courtesy of Ranita Chatterjee.

Ranita “Ronnie” Chatterjee: “Finding Queer Desi Joy”

In this piece, we meet Chicagoan Ronnie, who takes us on a journey to one of their most favorite spaces in Chicago — an event, actually: the recurring South Asian, Bollywood drag party, “Jai Ho.” In this piece, we hear Ronnie speaking with two iconic drag queens about their experiences with the Jai Ho parties, from its formative days to the present. And through Ronnie’s own insights and experiences as shared in this piece, we learn how social events like these can be the catalyst and cause behind beautiful, untethered, queer, people-of-color joy!

Ranita “Ronnie” Chatterjee moved to the US from Kolkata, India in her teenage years and has been a Chicagoan ever since. With a deep love for Chicago’s indomitable spirit of art and activism, Ronnie loves collecting and documenting stories of the city and its people. You can call her an urban expert of Chicago’s coolest and quirkiest social and cultural life. Ronnie is a storyteller and a filmmaker and is always looking forward to the next adventure to embark on, and the next story to share!

Photo courtesy of Paola Villegas.

Paola Villegas: “Rooted”

The soundscape of birds, chickens and city life transports us to Cedillo’s Fresh Produce, a family run farm in Englewood, Chicago, co-founded by Dulce Margarita Morales and Juan Cedillo. We hear from Dulce and farm volunteers who share an excitement for growing and learning together. “Rooted” is a gentle reminder of how the land invites us to connect with ourselves and each other.

Paola Villegas is a queer Chicago based planner originally from the San Fernando Valley. Paola has a deep appreciation for the relationships she has built in Chicago over the years and holds onto moments that feel like a warm hug. You can often find her at a local coffee shop or taking a stroll through a neighborhood with a pet friend.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Valentin.

Nancy Valentin: “Seguimos Esperando”

“Seguimos Esperando” asks why do Chicagoans of color have to wait and “do the most” to bring attention to issues and get basic needs met in communities. Here, we meet residents of Belmont Cragin trying to bring about change but being met with circumstances beyond their control.

Nancy Valentin is a queer, neurodivergent multi-potentialite who loves to try new hobbies and explore Chicago. She’s a born and raised Chicagoan but knows that to love this city is to care for it and forever keep exploring it. She lives in Logan Square with her partner Angelo and their cat-son Chiquis.

Photo courtesy of Hyon Zavecz.

Hyon Zavecz: “Language Lost And Found”

Many immigrants and their children will find infestation in the most inner sanctum of their relationship-language. What happens when schools advise you to drop your native tongue to make their jobs easier? Not only does it make me question my identity as a Korean, but also as a daughter.

My name is Hyon Zavecz. Born in South Korea and immigrated to Troy, Michigan. You can find me in my house hoarding cuddles from my cats and dog. I’m also a graduate of the French Pastry School and aspire to be the Anthony Bourdain of sweets. I also love crusty, bubbly bagels with equal amounts of cream cheese, walking around the city and music.

Photo courtesy of Edgar Lopez.

Edgar Lopez: “Soñando Grande”

This story stems from the love and appreciation of food that’s made by restaurant cooks and street vendors. Highlighting what it takes to put on a production like Chispa Chicago’s, we meet Adan, Adriana and Pedro, whose passion and dedication led them to start a taco stand during the pandemic. Their food is unique and delicious, and their creativity is representative of the Latinx workforce and culture in the city of Chicago. You can follow them on Instagram @chispa_chicago.

Edgar Lopez is a Creative Professional from the NW side of Chicago focusing on Communications and Creative Solutions. His passion for storytelling and visual arts stems from experiences growing up as a first-generation Mexican American and exploring different communities across the city. You can follow him on Instagram at @edgarchicago.

Photo courtesy of Cameron Costanzo.

Cameron Costanzo: “Apteka Farmacia”

Cameron moved to Chicago in August and was intent on learning more about his new neighborhood. He used this radio piece as an opportunity to explore.

Cameron Costanzo was born in New Jersey and went to college in Connecticut to study physics. He likes reading and cooking, as well as calling home to his family.

Learn more about Vocalo’s quarterly Storytelling Workshop here.

2022 Workshop led by Ari Mejia and co-facilitated by Ariana Martinez

Introduction written by

Descriptions edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

More from Vocalo: