Carolyn Marcotte

Where are you from?

I grew up in Rosemount Minnesota, it is a small suburb of the Twin Cities. Where I grew up is pretty outdoorsy and super laid back. For most of my childhood my mom was raising us on her own. She is an amazing woman of the Lord and taught me what it means to rely on the Holy spirit every day to provide, protect and guide me in my life. I remember even as a small child hearing my mom walking the halls of our small apartment praying over me and my 2 older siblings.

What brought you to Chicago?

Initially I didn't want to come to Chicago at all, I had just graduated from college with a degree in dance but I wanted nothing to do with dance. I wanted to move abroad and live as a missionary in some remote place, but I am really glad that God knows what He is doing more than I do! Every opportunity I had been chasing after to move out of the country fell through, some in soft quiet ways and others in loud and very disappointing ways. So I would up a couple months post graduating living at home in Minnesota not knowing what was next for me. I was offered a job to dance for a modern dance company here in the city and was very reluctant to join but told them I would do one performance with them and then would be moving out of Chicago… yet after a 3 year stint with the dance company I am still here! Not dancing anymore but very much in love with the city with no plans to leave anytime soon.

What do you find challenging about living here?

It can be pretty tiring. Its crazy to live in such a fast paced environment and yet simple things like grocery shopping or even getting to work seems to take infinitely longer here. And parking tickets… thats the absolute worst part about this place.

Why do you love it?

Its such uniquely diverse place. It has a lot of heart. People try to leave Chicago and get sucked right back in. I think there is something about struggling through months of city living through the winters together that band the whole city together, then the springtime comes and this place comes to life!

Why do you stay?

I feel like I have found a super strong sense of community, a wonderful church family and a really strong appreciation for my neighborhood, I want to see my neighborhood thriving in all its unique messiness and I don't want to miss out on the journey!

How has community affected your time here?

Its 100% given me the foundation and stability that makes it possible to feel grounded and rooted in a place as transient as Chicago. When people ask how I can live in such a big city i tell them that it doesn't feel like I do. I know my neighbors, I run into my friends at the grocery store, my neighborhood is my home not the whole city.

How has Chicago affected your worldview, if at all?

It has completely rattled what i believe and how I see the world, in the best way possible. When you are consistently coming in contact with people who have a completely different worldview form yours, completely different experiences and stories its really hard to not be affected by that. Chicago was the first place where I was bombarded with these experiences, I think it was God forcing me to not notice, forcing me to care about things outside of my experience. But it’s messy and it’s really hard and I don't think i was prepared for the challenge of some conversations, it really takes living in community to a whole new level!

Do you have an experience or a specific encounter here that has moved you/stayed with you that you'd be up for sharing?

About a year and a half after moving to the city I was nannying for a family in Uptown, I was walking home with their son who was 3 at the time when across the street from us shots rang out and we saw the shooter run across a gas station parking lot. I grabbed the boy and started running the other direction away from the shots. He was freaking out, I was freaking out. 2 men were shot and killed in their car that day and I just remember only being able to think of all the “what ifs” of that situation for weeks until finally I feel like God changed my questions of “what ifs” to the question of “what can you do to be an agent of peace and justice in your neighborhood, maybe its small, but what can you do?” Instead of that being an experience that made me want to leave my neighborhood that marks a time for me the solidified me wanting to stay.