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Who We Are

JOT was founded by Hal Adams in 1991. From 1991 to 1995, JOT was sponsored by the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hundreds of Chicago adults have participated in writing groups in a range of settings, from public libraries and public schools (where parents participate), to social service agencies and public housing projects. In 1996, Hal Adams, Deborah Epstein, and Sonny Fischer founded the Neighborhood Writing Alliance which published JOT until 2013, when NWA was dissolved. Presently, the Journal of Ordinary Thought is a volunteer organization made up of its writers who continue to meet at 4 workshops in Chicago Public Library locations.

We continue to be committed to providing creative programming in neighborhoods that offer few educational opportunities for adults beyond GED and ESL classes, in order to build a sense of community and generate discussion on issues important to Chicago residents. Participants in our workshops write primarily from their own experience, and, through both writing and discussion, often make connections between their personal experiences and broader social issues.

JOT writers and JOT itself have twice won Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards. The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribunelisted a play adapted by the Chicago Theater Company from work published in JOT among the top 10 plays of 1999.


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