Past Event

Lessons from Immigrant Workers: Occupying the Hood, Transforming the Economy

Day laborers in Albany Park have been occupying the only spaces open to them in the area for years while searching for work: street corners. Meanwhile, the coffee roasters of the Chicago Coffee Confederation have been occupying unused spaces like empty garages and backyards for close to a decade in order to bring great tasting fair trade organic coffee to the people while supporting the work of organizations like the Latino Union. The coming together of these two forces in Cafe Chicago is paving a new road towards economic self-determination and transformation.

Join us for this special Café Society conversation with members of the Albany Park Workers Center that promises to be heavy on dialogue and refreshments! Plus, Ami Saraiya and Anna Soltys will perform their original song “Sweet Chariot” inspired by and about day laborers.

Cafe Chicago coffee beans, by the pound, will be available for purchase for your holiday pleasure.

Reservations are required, reserve your spot here.

From “Brewing Justice at Café Chicago” by Kari Lydersen

“Waiting long hours on street corners for jobs, often in freezing weather, Chicago day laborers drink a lot of coffee. Now they will also be roasting and selling it. And rather than the watered-down McDonald’s or Aldi’s coffee they often drink, it will be organic fair trade coffee sold at sliding scale prices to make it affordable for people from all walks of life. This is Café Chicago, a new worker-owned cooperative under the auspices of the Latino Union and the Albany Park Workers Center. The project has been in the works for more than a year, and on May 1 will be selling its first bags of coffee….At a meeting in late March, said Café Chicago worker-owner Marisol Willis, 42, ‘We all came together as one, the energy was amazing. Everyone had their different skills and things they could offer. When you work together, everyone benefits. If we just keep that attitude, there’s no question of anything but success.’”

Questions for Consideration

When should people occupy a space? What can we learn from day laborers in Albany Park on occupying spaces in a healthy sustainable way? How can those involved in similar struggles develop horizontal relationships with other groups? How can alliances like these sustain a movement?

Want to learn more?

Free and open to the public. For more information please call 312.422.5580.

If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580. For parking locations near the facility, please visit