Welcome to Chicago Voz’ inaugural 18 on 18th Street, an annual series that profiles 18 people from the Pilsen community. This series will feature residents, leaders, artists and small business owners who have contributed their time and skill toward the betterment of Pilsen. Various names were nominated and voted on by our editorial board and they will be released throughout the month.
While there are many influential Pilsen people to choose from, one criteria was to highlight people who are not media regulars. Chicago Voz will profile those who have not received proper media recognition for their work, but are nevertheless the unsung heroes of our community. Congratulations to Pilsen’s 18 on 18th Street!
Executive Director – Revista Contratiempo
As the Executive Director of Revista Contratiempo, Moira Pujols ensures that the publication is found in every Pilsen café and that it reflects the artistic expression of Latin American immigrants who are developing a new identity.
She became involved with Contratiempo when it was housed in Rogers Park and has overseen its long trajectory. The Spanish-language magazine was prompted to come to Pilsen by the concentration of immigrants and the creativity that is traditional here. Moira said, “Pilsen is what rooted me to Chicago the most,” and she jokes that she’s become “a little bit Mexican” since.
Moira was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and decided to come to Chicago looking for ballet opportunities. She enrolled at UIC for a double-major in Physics and Economics and spent many years working as a professional interpreter in conferences and legal courts. Being a dancer who knows first-hand what it means to be an immigrant, she understands the value of looking inward and defining your role in your cultural surroundings.
Contratiempo is not a newspaper, but it demands readers to “sit down, take a pause from your day, and read, smell, feel, and really marvel at the talent we have in Chicago,” Moira said. Despite the fast pace of the internet, she believes there is still room for the physical experience of long-form reading. She acknowledges that Contratiempo is working on their digital presence, but in keeping with their mission to be at people’s literal reach, they should “never abandon print.”
The magazine is distributed across the city in all Chicago Public Libraries, in consulates, in museums and other sit-down places of social exchange. With demographic shifts taking place in Pilsen and the North Side, Moira thinks about their growth not in terms of numbers. Given that the publication must be representative of the Spanish-speaking immigrant population, with time that could mean expanding west or expanding south.
Through Contratiempo, Moira brings together different countries and perspectives. She believes that immigrants are unique in their ability to cross cultural lines and make human connections. She’s about engaging the immigrant community now instead of later. And as a lover of languages, she’s thankful that times have changed and we’re no longer shamed for being ourselves, whether in Spanish or in English, in print, online or on stage.
Check out Contratiempo’s website at contratiempo.net.
Interview by Jackie Serrato
Photo by Jackie Serrato