On the eve of applications opening for our 2016 Crusade Engagement Grant cycle, we thought you may enjoy an update on the progress of last year's winning project. Read co-founder, Danielle Wilcox's update below -

LDOC Summary: LDOC is an arts publication that features Chicago artists and writers on a bi-monthly basis. It is distributed the first and third Mondays of every month at the following Red Line stops: Howard, Belmont, Lake, 35th, and 69th. LDOC was created out of a desire to engage the people of Chicago in an artistic, accessible way. The use of newsprint acts as an unintimidating and familiar material for Red Liners to connect with, while the work of local photographers and writers offers a few minutes away from our phones and screens.

As LDOC progresses into its sixth month of production, the arts publication has found a home in the Chicago photography and literary community, in boxes steps away from ‘L’ train Red Line entrances, in homes via our growing subscription service, and in the hands of commuters all over our enormous city.

For months we established ourselves via press, our website, and through volunteers posted in Chicago’s ‘L’ entrances distributing the issues. In December, we acquired newspaper boxes from an independent press in Ann Arbor that had recently ended their own print distribution. We cleaned them up, designed and produced vinyl stickers at the Chicago Public Library's Maker Lab, and posted them at various Red Line stops around the city, just in time for the cold weather. We have one remaining newspaper box, which we'll be setting up at Hubbard Street Lofts, a collection of artist studios in Chicago's West Town neighborhood.

One of our priorities as editors is to work closely with our featured photographers and writers so that their art is presented on the page exactly as they imagine it. Recently we had the great opportunity to publish the photographs of John Steck Jr., who creates photographs on silver gelatin paper, but never runs the prints through the chemical required to remove the paper’s sensitivity to light. This causes each print to slowly fade as time progresses until it is no longer visible. Because of the specific qualities of the work, we ended up going through 3 presses of one of the issues. We ended up using the third press, after a few weeks of intense collaboration with our printing company and the artist. It was important to present John’s work as he himself would. These are conflicts that online publications don't have to worry about, but we think are well worth the labor. The effect of a tangible print is something ephemeral and unique that only comes from ink and paper.

LDOC has received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from commuters. We distribute at the downtown Lake stop during the train’s busiest hours, which sees a lot of bus and transfers. People are excited to learn about the project. We typically get questions about how we’re funded, who the artists are, and where they might pick up an issue if they miss a distribution date. We also have “regulars” who consistently express their enjoyment of LDOC, stopping to say things like, “Yes, I love this!” or, “Finally, it’s the new one.” We’ve had interactions with commuters who were sad they missed a previous issue. We let them know where to pick one up but mail them one for the time being.

We continue to do press via Chicago’s large network of arts and neighborhood publications: Newcity Art, DNAinfo, our MFA alma mater’s Lesley University and Columbia College Chicago, and more. We’re happy to note that every issue of LDOC is now available on our website via the free publication platform issuu, and we look forward to what the remainder of the year has in store for LDOC.

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