Keeping Community Vibrantly Alive


Ivan Vega lives in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Northwest Chicago. As gentrification continues to expand into the Puerto Rican part of the neighborhood, it has become more difficult for residents and businesses to stay connected to their heritage. Out of doing Landmark Education’s Self-Expression program, Vega decided to start a project and contribute to the community he loves. His goal is to inspire community members about their heritage by having them take part in documenting the Puerto Rican Flag. Vega is calling his project The Flag Project (TFPR): Bridging the Gap Between Communities.

 “Puerto Ricans have been displace since the mid-1960s, causing them to relocate,” says Vega. “Out of this, Humboldt Park was the first Puerto Rican community created. Now gentrification threatens encroaches on businessess and families, forcing them outside of their community.”

The project honors and creates an awareness of the flag as both a symbol of pride as well as an item of historical significance. By pairing up young students with professional photographers, TPFR seeks to capture the Puerto Rican flag in its many forms around Chicago and the Humboldt Park community, which will then be displayed in a photo documentary.

A collaboration of student, community and professional photographs are being combined in a three part series of poster collages, which will be displayed in an exhibit this fall and then made into a community book. The posters will also be displayed at the Puerto Rican festival/Fiestas Puertorriqueñas which runs June 10-15.  Throughout the festival TFPR will supply disposable cameras at a booth for the community patrons who wish to take part in the process of documenting the Puerto Rican flag.

Vega raised the money for the posters, and enrolled American Family Insurance to provide him a free booth at the festival.

If you would like to obtain more information on this project, or to schedule an interview with Vega, please contact Elizabeth Hoffman at (414) 315-9944 or email

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Julia Taylor

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