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Building a New Home: John Phelan shares about life at L’Arche Chicago

John stands in an empty lot wearing a tie dye shirt and using a mobility aid
John Phelan has been living at L’Arche Chicago for three years, and was excited to share about how his experiences in community have informed his interest for construction, especially developing a passion for the new L’Arche home in Chicago.John has developed a keen interest in street repairs, trains, construction, urban design- all of which bring him immense joy as both an active observer and participant in neighborhood life. L’Arche assistants have “taken the long way on purpose” to spend more time to facilitate John’s passions for watching trains go by, and take note of urban design projects, starting with the tiny, technical details of the process of laying cement to fixing local streets.
When asked about particularly transformative examples of living in community, John mentioned, “I always ask Mic [L’Arche Chicago Executive Director and Community Leader] about when they’re going to start construction on the new house in the spring. I have seen where they’re going to start building, and I can’t wait!”John has kept a close eye on projects in his neighborhood, but this time, the construction is much more personal, as his community is expanding.
John walks down the street wearing a blue coat and using a mobility aid.
“Last spring, my housemate, Noah, was awakened by a loud noise outside and when we went to look out, we discovered that they were fixing the street with a jackhammer. The next thing I know, a cement truck drove over from across the street, and soon people were showing me how to lay the concrete. I loved that!”John also highlights his appreciation for Jean Wilson, L’Arche community member for 22 years. and their shared enjoyment of creating art four days a week at Arts of Life, an art studio for people with and without disabilities. John offers that he deeply appreciates having the opportunity to befriend others in community and share stories that ignite fun and laughter.
Some special attributes of L’Arche Chicago’s three homes and growing community include the many artistic gifts and creative community with talented chefs abound – both core members & assistants who enjoy trying out adventurous recipes & unique soups, curries, baking wood fired pizzas, and baking bread.  The first five core members who moved in in the early 2000s are still key contributors to building community life. John joined in 2019 and has fit right in to become a huge influence on the culture of L’Arche Chicago.
*This story was gathered with the support of John Phelan, Ryan Weseloh, and Mic Altena.

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