Dozens of Oak Parkers and others will converge on the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace this Thursday, July 23, from 6 to 9 p.m. — part of the “birthday week” celebration — to raise funds for Columbia Links, a teen journalism program out of Columbia College Chicago. Here, area youth learn evidence-based journalism and use it to make a difference. The honorary co-chairs are media celebrities Chaz Ebert and Stefan Holt. Oak Park journalists Alex Kotlowitz and Regina Waldroup will also speak at this much-anticipated event co-sponsored by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park (Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899).

In full disclosure, I should mention that I left the board of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park in 2013 to join the board of Columbia Links as my way of giving back to area teen journalists. Two Links reporters will be featured that night: Briana Williams, who just graduated from OPRF High School, who reported on protest music and wrote documentary reviews for, also appeared on WBEZ’s “Afternoon Shift” with honorary co-chair Chaz Ebert. “Bri,” as she likes to be called, received a full scholarship to Northwestern University. 

Bilingual Nathan Cordero, a Lane High School senior who covered human trafficking as part of the 2014 Investigative Team and has spoken throughout the city to alert teens about traffickers, earned a scholarship to the University of Missouri. He’s expected to address the crowd in Italian, seeking donations for the program. My sons, Jordan, a recent University of Scranton World Languages grad, will address the crowd in Spanish; and his twin brother, Amman, a recent Canisius College French and International Business grad, will address the crowd in French in the true international tradition of Hemingway who spoke all three languages.

Ernest Hemingway, just 18, began reporting for the Kansas City Star right after high school. Surely he’d have some insights for these Columbia Links high school journalists, whom you’ll meet at this fundraiser during the celebration of Hemingway’s birthday. Come out and hear their personal stories about reporting on topics such as sex trafficking and the school-to-prison pipeline at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 23 at the Hemingway Birthplace Home. Refreshments and tours of the Hemingway Birthplace Home will be complimentary. For more information, visit

Stan West, an Oak Park resident, is a Columbia College Chicago professor and one of the organizers of the annual Oak Park Film Festival.

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