6 FRIDAY A New York midwifery practice, a Texas grassroots housing initiative for migrant farm workers, a Navajo Nation program that promotes traditional sheepherding and weaving practices, and the Southwest Youth Collaborative in Englewood are among the dozen community enterprises examined through photos and interviews in the exhibit Indivisible: Stories of American Community, which opens today (and runs through November 26) at the Terra Museum of American Art, 666 N. Michigan, Chicago (312-664-3939). Admission is $7 for adults, $3.50 for seniors, and free for students, teachers, veterans, and kids under 12. Tom Rankin, exhibit co-coordinator and executive director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, will discuss his book, Local Heroes Changing America–which accompanies the exhibit–tonight at 8:30 at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster, Chicago. It’s free; call 773-871-3825 for more.

This weekend’s conference Locked Away: Critiquing the U.S. Prison System Through Story and Text focuses on ways of humanizing the prison experience for the more than 1.7 million incarcerated Americans. It opens tonight with a keynote address by John Edgar Wideman, whose 1976 memoir Brothers and Keepers explores his struggle to come to terms with his brother’s murder conviction. He’ll speak tonight at 7 at DePaul University’s Cortelyou Commons, 2324 N. Fremont, Chicago. The conference continues tomorrow from 9 to 4, when panelists will include Pilar Anadon, director of Ann Arbor’s Prison Creative Arts Project; Tsehaye Herbert, coordinator of the Women’s Writers Workshop of Cook County Jail; and Chiara Liberatore, youth development coordinator of the city’s Music Theatre Workshop. It’s free, but reservations are required for tomorrow’s events. Call 773-325-4580.

7 SATURDAY The Field Museum’s new multimedia exhibit “The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition” may have all the bells and whistles, but the folks at the Newberry Library say that story is just one of many fantastic tales of polar exploration. Today they’ll trot out a related exhibit, To the Ends of the Earth: Exploring the Poles, which tracks 500 years of exploration through books, maps, and artifacts. It runs through January 13 and kicks off with a panel called “Going to Extremes: The Arctic, the Antarctic, and the Himalayas,” which will include UIC librarian Sharon Hogan (who twice attempted to climb Mount Everest), Ottawa civic leader Edmund Thornton (who participated in Donald B. McMillan’s arctic expedition 50 years ago), and anthropologist James VanStone (who works with arctic and subarctic people). They’ll discuss what drives them to the so-called ends of the earth at 10 AM at the library, 60 W. Walton, Chicago. It’s free; call 312-255-3510.

“When the recorder went wrong (this happened a number of times), I swore at it. During each of these instances, my companion laughed and seemed to feel more relaxed….I soon became aware that my playing Jacques Tati’s Mr. Hulot helped break whatever tensions might have existed.” So writes Studs Terkel in the prefatory notes to his 1967 book Division Street: America, a collection of revealing interviews with “ordinary” Chicagoans. Several of their stories have been adapted by playwright Steve Totland for the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Arts Exchange Program. After today’s premiere, This American Life host Ira Glass will interview Terkel. It starts at 11 AM at the Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago (312-335-1650). Tickets are $10.

Bay Area DJ and Beastie Boys turntablist Mix Master Mike (aka Michael Schwartz) and local DJ Precyse (Juan Cervantes) will teach their tricks and offer turns on an interactive mixing station when the TWIX Mix Mall Tour stops at the center court of Lincolnwood Town Center today. The do-it-yourself workshop will cover the finer points of scratching, splicing, hydroplaning, and more from 2 to 5 today at the mall, 3333 W. Touhy (corner of McCormick and Touhy). It’s free. Call 847-674-1219.

8 SUNDAY Long before European colonizers laid claim to the east African coast, Swahili city-states and villages dominated the 3,500 kilometers of coastline from Somalia to Mozambique, says Kenyan scholar Chapurukha M. Kusimba, author of The Rise and Fall of Swahili States. These days, Kenya’s Swahili society struggles with the Christian majority. Kusimba, who is currently an associate curator of African archaelogy and ethnology at the Field Museum and part of a team that is excavating a section of Tsavo National Park near the Kenyan coast, thinks tensions might ease if more people were aware of the Swahili’s former dominance. He will give a free lecture and slide presentation today from 1 to 5 at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted, Chicago (312-747-6921).

9 MONDAY Norse explorer Leif Eriksson first set foot in the New World 500 years before Christopher Columbus, but his story isn’t nearly as familiar. He stopped a few times along the coast before settling in for the winter at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, which he dubbed Vinland. The name may not have stuck because Eriksson failed to, instead returning to Greenland in the spring. Regardless, today at 10 AM the Leif Eriksson Millennium Committee will lay a wreath and hold a small ceremony at the Eriksson statue near the entrance of Humboldt Park, at Humboldt just south of North in Chicago. It’s free; call 773-244-5592 for more.

10 TUESDAY After several months of battle with the Illinois board of elections and the Democratic Party, it looks as though consumer advocate and Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader (and running mate Winona LaDuke) will indeed be on the ballot next month. At tonight’s “super rally,” Nader will be joined by Michael Moore, Studs Terkel, and John Anderson (who ran as an independent in 1980). Doors open at 6; the main event starts at 7:30 at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine, Chicago. Organizers are asking $10 for admission, but will settle for $7. Call 312-588-0974.

11 WEDNESDAY What does your voice say about you? Joe Who, whose real name is Joe Tufano, has been reading voices on Chicago radio–including the Loop, AM 1000, and WLS–since 1986. He’s not on the airwaves right now, but this “voice natural,” who sees things behind his eyes when other people open their mouths, will give a free lecture and demonstrate his special kind of intuition (it runs in the family, he says) at College of DuPage today. You talk, then he’ll talk–about your past, present, and future. It starts at 11:30 AM in the Student Resource Center at the college, 425 22nd in Glen Ellyn. Call 630-942-2712.

12 THURSDAY Cristina Garcia was born in Cuba, came to the United States when she was two years old, and grew up to be a Guggenheim fellow, a novelist, and Time magazine’s Miami bureau chief. Her two books, Dreaming in Cuban (1992) and The Aguero Sisters (1997), explore Cuban history through the fractured family relationships of Cuban and Cuban-American women. She’ll lecture and read from her books at 7:30 in the Theatre of the Business and Social Science Center, room J143, at William Rainey Harper College, 1200 W. Algonquin in Palatine. Tickets are $10; $5 for students and seniors. Call 847-925-6100.