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A 'portal' to the world will open in Daley Plaza in October

Written by
Sara Freund

A golden portal is opening in Daley Plaza in October—and no, it doesn’t lead to the Upside Down. The portal is actually a shipping container equipped with technology to connect people across the world in Mexico, Palestine, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Myanmar and now here in Chicago. 

The portal program, created by Shared Studios, sets up shipping containers with immersive audio and video technology so that it feels like you’re face-to-face with someone who is thousands of miles away. It’s like Skype on steroids.

Chicago Ideas will curate sessions, such as a live collaboration between artists in Mexico City and Chicago. One-on-one time slots with people at other portal locations will also be available for reservation. Each individual session will be limited to three people in the portal at a time, so that it remains an intimate experience.

The portal in Chicago is hosted by Chicago Ideas and will be open to the public during Chicago Ideas Week, from October 17-23. A full calendar of Chicago Ideas Week events and the curated sessions can be found here.

“Chicago Ideas Week is all about connecting people to inspire action,” Sona Jones, marketing director for Chicago Ideas Week, told Time Out Chicago. “It’s so remarkable to walk into a box and be connected with someone so intimately across the world.”

Some of the curated sessions will include live readings of true stories from people in Yangon, Myanmar and Chicago entrepreneurs will lead a workshop for university students in Herat, Afghanistan. Another session to look forward to is a blues concert in which Chicago musicians will play for an audience in Kigali, Rwanda. The only other portal in the U.S. is located in Milwaukee—and if you're dream is to have a dance party with Milwaukee residents without leaving Chicago, well, now you can.

The portal is an opportunity to gain global perspective but also a way to change the way people perceive our city. “It’s an amazing opportunity, especially for Chicago. There is so much negative news about Chicago, and this is a chance for us to share who we are beyond the headlines,” Jones said.

Photograph: Courtesy of Chicago Ideas Week

Photograph: Courtesy of Chicago Ideas Week

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