About

The View From the Ground is an occasional publication of the Invisible Institute—a set of relationships and ongoing conversations grounded at the Stateway Gardens public housing development on Chicago’s South Side. In the tradition of human rights monitoring, our aim is to deepen public discourse by providing reliable information about conditions on the ground. The View orients from the perspective of those living in abandoned communities. There are, we recognize, other perspectives on the changes transforming inner city neighborhoods. We are mindful of these perspectives. Our first responsibility, however, is to evoke the experience of those on the ground—those for whom these neighborhoods are home. Public discourse is deformed by the absence of this perspective. The View seeks to inject it into the public conversation. Investigative journalism and human rights reporting are often challenged on the ground that they do not afford the powerful an adequate opportunity to tell their side of the story. Such criticism is based on a misconception about the nature of such reporting. Powerful institutions and individuals do not lack vehicles for expressing their views and asserting their interests. The tradition of reporting from which The View takes its bearings seeks to create the means for those who are voiceless and caricatured within the prevailing discourse to be heard and seen on their own terms. Such reporting does not purport to be “balanced” in the sense that the reporting in the mainstream press does. (Indeed, one of its aims is to correct distortions that arise from the conventions of “objective” journalism.) That does not, however, mean that it claims an exemption from high standards of craftsmanship and rigor. On the contrary, the moral authority of a human rights monitoring effort rests ultimately on the quality of its reporting. That is the basis on which we expect The View to be judged.