Bourbon 'n BrownTown

Ep. 35 - Chi DNA: Youth Trauma-informed Education & Organizing against Gun Violence ft. Tree

Episode Summary

BrownTown links up with Tree, an activist, artist, and program facilitator with GoodKids MadCity working to end violence in all its forms. The team discusses educating young folks and the intersections of violence in music, policy, and the streets as well as the role white supremacy, capitalism, and toxic masculinity has in it all.

Episode Notes

This is the seventh Chicago Drill and Activism (AKA "Chi DNA") installment of Bourbon ’n BrownTown. Chi DNA is an ongoing documentary and multimedia project, which also features interviews, micro-documentaries, and editorial pieces on drill rap and the activist resurgence in Chicago.

Tree is a 25-year-old community activist, artist, GoodKids MadCity rep, program facilitator, peace circle keeper, and student of life who was planted here to spread love and add balance. An unfortunate run-in with gun violence when he was a teenager left him paralyzed forcing him to rethink his purpose and being a journey of healing himself and everyone around him.

BrownTown originally met Tree at the Chicago Urban League’s live podcast recording event Ep. 8 Convening on Youth Violence and at SoapBox’s February 2019 event Chi DNA: Movement, Media, & Municipal Elections. Tree begins by talking about his philosophy of life and coming into organizing through the Maverick Men Against Violence Research program. After meeting Kofi Ademola (Bourbon ’n BrownTown alum), he linked up with GoodKids MadCity, an organization of Black and Brown young people united in fighting to end violence in in underserved communities by calling for more resources and creating safe space for healing, changing behaviors, advocating for progressive legislation that contributes to community vitalization and giving support to communities suffering from gun violence. There he started engaging in youth education and program facilitating work with a restorative justice framework. The conversation takes a turn when we backtrack and discuss what spawned Tree’s journey, the incident that left him paralyzed. BrownTown and Tree breakdown reasons behind seemingly cyclical street violence that is often attributed to certain parts of Chicago, and put the macro-level systems of oppression the create such inequities that make it possible on trial. Tree explains what trauma-informed work looks like with youth across Chicago while making space for creative, restorative practices through various outlets.

The Chicago Drill and Activism project explores the creation, meaning, perspectives, and connections between drill rap and the resurgence of grassroots activism since the early 2010s through the eyes of the people involved. It focuses on contemporary Chicago as an intentional place for the resurgence of these two formations of cultural and political resistance during relatively the same time period. It examines how authenticity, community, and other important values to the subjects are impacted and promoted via technology, social media, and a rejection of traditional means of movement politics and corporate structures. As told by activists and drill rappers alike, the project situates the the subjects’ experiences and actions into a broader theoretical and empirical history of systemic inequality and resistance in Chicago. Follow the ongoing project at for more.


Follow Tree on Facebook (Paris Brown / Tree Brown), Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and GoodKids MadCity on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


CREDITS: Intro song Klan Killer and outro song Overkill by Tree. Audio engineered by Genta Tamashiro.


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