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Hank De Zutter, Malcolm X instructor who co-founded media workshop, dies at 80

Chicago Tribune

HankDeZutterHenry W. “Hank” De Zutter was equal parts journalist, activist, college instructor and provocateur, with a deep desire to further racial equality and a practitioner’s skill at communicating his ideas clearly.

A longtime instructor and lecturer at Chicago’s Malcolm X College who early in his career was an education reporter for the Chicago Daily News, De Zutter co-founded both the Chicago Journalism Review and the Community Media Workshop.

“Like Studs Terkel, Hank knew how to listen to sources in a way that put them at ease to tell their story better,” said Thom Clark, who co-founded the Community Media Workshop with De Zutter in 1989.

De Zutter, 80, died on July 14 of complications from a fall that he suffered on July 10 in his Lincoln Park apartment, said his daughter, Amanda Kotlyar.

Born Henry Wayne De Zutter in Chicago, De Zutter grew up in Skokie and Northbrook and graduated in 1959 from Glenbrook High School, where he was captain of the golf team, editor of the school newspaper and class valedictorian. He studied at Williams College in Massachusetts before receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1963.

De Zutter worked as a reporter for the Lerner Newspapers chain while earning a master’s degree in journalism in 1965 from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

De Zutter and his first wife, Janet Jonjack, enlisted in the federal Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA, program, training in the South Bronx and then working as community organizers in Baltimore.

In the spring of 1967, the Chicago Daily News hired De Zutter as an education reporter. The following year, he helped found the Chicago Journalism Review, a short-lived but influential publication spawned in response to what he and other journalists felt was heavily pro-police coverage during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

In 1970, De Zutter joined the staff of Malcolm X College, working for the next several decades as an English and journalism instructor while also teaching classes at times at Truman College and at Columbia College.

“I think his most important accomplishment was that of mentor to so many second-chance students and the untiring support he provided aspiring journalists of color,” Clark said.

In 1989, De Zutter and Clark formed the Community Media Workshop, a foundation-funded effort to help community-based organizations get better press and tell their stories directly to a wider audience.

Under their leadership, the organization, which now is called Public Narrative, helped community groups write news releases and deal with the media and published a detailed directory of Chicago’s journalists and media organizations.

For years, De Zutter freelanced for the Chicago Reader, writing long stories for its “Neighborhood News” column. From 1991 until 1996, De Zutter and Clark interviewed and photographed people on the street for their weekly “Snap Judgments” column.

“During his years with the Reader, we’d often cover the same stories — planning for the never-held 1992 World’s Fair, public housing demolitions, big urban renewal projects,” recalled former Tribune reporter and columnist John McCarron. “Hank took a bottom-up approach — how does it affect folks already living (in a community) — but with empathy, not the up-against-City-Hall self-righteousness so common with the neighborhood left.”

In 1995, De Zutter wrote a cover story for the Reader titled “What Makes Obama Run?,” which was the first in-depth look at future President Barack Obama as he ran for state Senate.

“Hank made an unknown guy known to me and a lot of other people in Chicago,” said retired Chicago Reader senior editor Michael Miner. “It put (Obama) on the map.”

In 1978, De Zutter wrote a 30-minute TV documentary that aired on WBBM-Ch. 2 about youths playing basketball on the streets of the South Side in the late 1970s. Titled “Going Up Easy, Coming Down Hard,” the documentary included a look at the early careers of streetball stars and future professional basketball players Billy Harris and Sonny Parker.

In 1992, De Zutter and his second wife, Pamela Little De Zutter, who collaborated several times on articles for the Reader, were featured in Terkel’s book “Race: What Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession” due to the fact that theirs was an interracial marriage.

“I don’t even see dirty looks given to us. When we go out together, people seem happy to see us,” De Zutter told Terkel in the book. “I feel people see us as a symbol of change and hope, especially when we have our blended family.”

A jazz aficionado, De Zutter reviewed the 10th annual Chicago Jazz Festival in Grant Park in the Tribune in September 1988. Five years later, De Zutter wrote a children’s book, “Who Says a Dog Goes Bow-Wow?,” which explored how animal sounds are expressed in various different languages.

“What we see is so often determined by what we say, or are taught to hear,” De Zutter told the Tribune upon the book’s launch.

De Zutter retired from Malcolm X College in 2002, and from the Community Media Workshop in 2004.

De Zutter’s first two marriages ended in divorce. In addition to his daughter, De Zutter is survived by his third wife, Barbara Belletini Fields; two sons, Max and Chris; a stepson, Agward “Eddie” Turner; two stepdaughters, Jayne Mattson and Ana Boyer Davis; two sisters, Joyce Mooneyham and Wendy Callahan; five grandchildren; and four stepgrandchildren.

A private memorial service is being planned.

Bob Goldsborough is a freelance reporter.

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Contact: Sara Davis
Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County
(815) 759-9002 ext. 102



Habitat ReStores in Woodstock & McHenry
kick off Winter 2022 Donation Drive

McHENRY COUNTY — McHenry County residents can support the store that helps build homes by donating to the Habitat McHenry County ReStores Winter Donation Drive, happening now through Dec. 31!
With free and convenient pickup service, McHenry County residents can easily donate new and gently used household items, appliances, building materials, furniture, lighting fixtures, cabinets, and more!
The Habitat ReStores in Woodstock and McHenry carry gently used donations along with an excellent selection of new and like new furniture, tools, home décor, and more! Habitat ReStores are open to the general public for shopping and donation drop-offs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Every purchase at a Habitat ReStore generates funds to help build, rehabilitate or repair Habitat for Humanity homes in McHenry County. Individuals and families applying to the Home Ownership program must complete a brief application, earn between 30% and 80% of the area median income based on their family size, and perform sweat equity to be considered for a home. 
“Every item donated to our ReStores helps to improve the lives of families in need of safe, affordable housing,” said Sara Davis, operations director for Habitat McHenry County, “This year alone, proceeds from our Habitat ReStores have helped us build and repair homes for more than 15 families in McHenry County.”
The Habitat ReStores rely heavily on the generosity of community donors, and all donations made through the 2022 Winter Donation Drive are tax deductible. For information about how to schedule a donation drop-off or pickup, email donations@habitatmchenry.org or call: 815-331-8153 ext. 302.
Habitat for Humanity ReStores – Woodstock, IL and McHenry, IL
Open to the public, Habitat ReStores are thrift home improvement stores and donation centers that sell building materials, appliances, furniture, and home decor at deep discounts to the communities they serve. In fiscal year 2021 alone, Habitat ReStores nationwide raised more than $76 million to help support Habitat's affordable housing mission while also diverting reusable material from landfills. All proceeds generated between both HFHMC ReStores are used to help build or improve homes in McHenry County. To shop, donate or volunteer, visit us online at www.habitatmchenry.org.



Contact: Brandon Bergersen
Valley Orchard
(815) 332-9696



Valley Orchard celebrates 45 years in the community with 'Fall 45 Fest' on October 8


CHERRY VALLEY – Valley Orchard in Cherry Valley, Illinois, is one of the oldest orchards in the community and has been a destination for cherry picking, apple picking, and apple cider donuts for 45 years in northern Illinois. Every spring, summer, and fall it has been a spot for outdoor entertainment, farm market shopping, and cider slushes. On October 8, the orchard is commemorating all the roles it has played for the community throughout its 45 years in business with a daylong anniversary celebration called “The Fall 45 Fest”. 

The event will be celebrating with the community by offering a variety of fun activities from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, October 8. This will include attractions for guests of all ages including pumpkin carving and scarecrow building contests, children’s activities, an antique tractor show, yard games, multiple food trucks, and one free apple cider donut for every visitor. For the full schedule of events visit the Valley Orchard Facebook event. 

"I love growing apples, I have for 45 years," said Valley Orchard owner and operator Raoul Bergersen.

Bergersen went on to say how grew up with a love for farming.

"I had a friend that one day said, 'Hey, are you interested in doing an apple orchard?' I said, 'Sure, why not' and had absolutely no idea how to do it," Bergersen said when asked how it all started. "In retrospect, that was really foolish knowing what I know now," Bergersen said with a laugh. "But it was really fun."

Bergersen purchased the land in the Village of Cherry Valley in 1977. In the first year, he planted 1,800 apple trees which now have more than 5,000 trees on the 35-acre property.
With an array of apples, including their own handcrafted Johnalicious, berries, pumpkins, corn, and an abundance of rhubarb; visitors can find everything they need.

"You become friends with your customers," Bergersen said, “and we want to celebrate 45 years with them. I'm going to keep this up for as long as I possibly can, and hopefully my sons will continue something that I started 45 years ago."

Join Valley Orchard for 45 years of fun on October 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 



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