Southwest Sider Connecting in Pandemic via Neighbor Interviews

Published February 4, 2021

While some are filling idle pandemic downtime with baking, binge-watching or puzzles, Southwest Side resident Amelia Mroczkowski is connecting with neighbors via email interviews – her own version of having a “pen pal.”

 
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Mroczkowski, who resides in the Bridgeport neighborhood next to the McKinley Park Community Area, has already started making some connections in McKinley Park and beyond, and wants to make more.

 
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“I had the sense that I wanted to connect with people in another way,” Mroczkowski said. “Paradoxically, it led me to stop using social media, and try to connect more personally with my neighbors."

My Block, My Hood, My City

Amelia Mroczkowski portrait 2020102Amelia Mroczkowski is collecting stories of Southwest Side residents.The pen pal idea came to the 24-year-old while reading “What’s Something Simple I Can Do That’ll Have A Positive Impact On My Block.” The book — by Chicagoan Jahmal Cole of My Block, My Hood, My City — explores how easy it is to build community.

Mroczkowski's first step started with a post on the website of the Nextdoor service soliciting contacts. "I'm looking to interview neighbors and community members about your day-to-day lives," she wrote. "I'd love to talk with you, whoever you are and whatever your deal is."

Hundreds of Little Universes

So far, Mroczkowski has connected in a different way with each of her pen pals, she said. “I realized I like talking to people; listening to people’s stories.”

 
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"There are hundreds of little universes," Mroczkowski said. “In these conversations I am getting a better sense of what Southwest Siders are like."

When she gets enough interviews, Mroczkowski wants to share the conversations in some way, she said, to “give more context to our community.”

To connect with Mroczkowski about starting a conversation, send email to ameliamroczkowski@gmail.com.

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Jim Hankes
It appears you put an extra a in Amelia’s gmaail address?
Justin Kerr
Thanks much for the heads up, Jim! This is now corrected.

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