The Exit Zero Project

“The Exit Zero Project ( is a transmedia exploration of the traumatic effects of the loss of the steel industry in Southeast Chicago, the impact that deindustrialization has had on expanding class inequalities in the United States more broadly, and how Americans talk – and fail to talk – about social class. The project includes an award-winning book, Exit Zero: Family and Class in Post-Industrial Chicago authored by Christine Walley, as well as a documentary film, entitled Exit Zero: An Industrial Family Story (2016) made in conjunction with director and filmmaker Chris Boebel. The book and film use first person narration to trace the stories of multiple generations of writer/producer Walley’s family in this once-thriving steel mill community. From the turn-of-the-century experience of immigrants who worked in Chicago’s mammoth industries to the labor struggles of the 1930s to the seemingly unfathomable closure of the steel mills in the 1980s and 90s, these family stories convey a history that serves as a microcosm of the broader national experience of deindustrialization and its economic and environmental aftermath.”

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