SGI-USA Chicago

1455 S. Wabash

Yes, we know, Chicago’s got a serious segregation problem. But no evidence of any such racial divide exists inside the Culture Center at 1455 S. Wabash—the local worship center of Soka Gakkai International-USA, a lay association of Nichiren Buddhism. On the day I visited to attend a celebration of women, hundreds of people of all imaginable backgrounds filled a spacious auditorium with a stage in the front, while a long line of women told one-minute stories about successes they’d had during the previous year. The vibe was gleeful; the presiding attitude was gratitude. SGI offers many types of events, from prayer sessions to music concerts to dance performances, all free. In a world where anger is too easy to find, the Culture Center is a place that brings out the best in people, and where you can feel hopeful about humanity’s future. —Lauri Apple