The ICA Global Archives is a robust, volunteer-driven project working to connect ICA’s past with future generations by transforming more than 60 years of documentation of ICA programs, projects, methods and training into a website that will be accessible to anyone in the world.
For years, the archival work was inextricably linked to the premises of ICA GreenRise, which house a significant part of ICA’s collected works. Each spring and fall, ICA colleagues would travel from around the United States and beyond to attend week-long working meetings known as Sojourns.
Meida Teresa McNeal grew up in the Fifth City neighborhood of East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side, where her parents participated in ICA’s Fifth City community development project in the 1960s. Curious about her own memories and her parents’ stories, Meida began to explore the history of Fifth City.
Meida Teresa McNeal is a performing artist with Honey Pot Performance, Arts & Culture Manager for Chicago Park District, and a self-described “artist-administrator-educator”. She grew up in the Fifth City neighborhood of East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side, where her parents participated in ICA’s Fifth City community development project in the 1960s.
Over the past 50 years, from the Fifth City community development project in 1963 to the fifth year anniversary of Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network in 2018, ICA has developed a wealth of programs, projects, methods, training materials, and more. Over the course of one week each spring and fall, colleagues from across that history gather at the GreenRise to work on a thriving Global Archives project that aims to organize and translate an estimated four million documents into a comprehensive story.
Fourteen people sat calmly in a row, shoulder to shoulder, holding between them over 700 years of experience learning and leading in community development projects around the world. In the air between the fourteen and those who came to hear them speak hung the promise of fourteen stories. Among these stories was a spark of the collected wisdom that would eventually become the Institute of Cultural Affairs and its Technology of Participation (ToP) methods.