Mayra Hernandez glowed with pleasure when she remembered flying a plastic grocery bag kite from her bedroom window as a little girl.

“I would throw it out the window on a windy day and just see how far the wind would take it,” Hernandez told others gathered recently at the cafe she co-owns in the Back of the Yards.

“That was one of my favorite things to do as a girl, and from a young age. I was always very good at making something out of nothing.”

On the first Thursday of every month, Hernandez hosts “CounterNarrative: Back of the Yards Storytelling.”

The open-mic type event allows residents and others  who live nearby to come together at the Back of the Yards Coffeehouse and Roastery to tell stories about the vibrant South Side neighborhood, offsetting its negative and often violent reputation.

Hernandez and other storytelling participants want people to realize that violence doesn’t control their lives.

“We want to put a real face to our neighborhood to counteract the crime stories that we see in the news,” said Hernandez.