A Community Center Without Walls
A Community Center Without Walls
A living fence, canopies and more events will advance Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood efforts in growing a healthier community.
A living fence, canopies and more events will advance Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood efforts in growing a healthier community. Read more
About this project
a place for all
Bronzeville Community Garden is a unique urban oasis located at 51st Street and Calumet Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community. Created in 2010 by a team of volunteers working primarily with cast-off and donated materials, it features a mix of production beds, art installations, games, a performance patio, and an outdoor cooking pavilion.
The garden is open to all. In its first three seasons it has become a haven for urban gardeners, a refuge for neighborhoods kids, home for an all-weather dominos crew and a growing posse of chess players, a destination for urban bicyclists, and a splash of color in an otherwise blighted 51st Street landscape. Perhaps most important, it has brought together Bronzeville residents from all walks of life over a game, a bite to eat, and shoulder-to-shoulder at numerous work days thereby building community in a neighborhood where few opportunities to build community exist.
we must do more
While the garden’s success has been gratifying, we know we must do far more if the garden is to help break our community’s cycle of poverty and drive its turnaround. Vast stretches of land just south of the garden lie vacant, while fully half of our community’s adult males are jobless, and we all live in a designated “food desert”. We must find ways to share skills and resources that help our neighbors help themselves and all of us.
Bronzeville’s boulevard’s are etched with uncounted children and youth. Disengaged from formal learning and disenchanted with sparse opportunities provided by the city, they are viewed as a menacing by the average passersby. We must figure out how to draw them into the garden and help them find their points of inspiration.
To shift the community’s cycle of poverty and apathetic disposition of our youth, we have to reinvest in the notion of working together similar to Bronzeville’s “glory days”. If a community is only as strong as its weakest link, then the current state of Bronzeville is an indication of how much more investing in each other we must do. As the old adages go; “We are our brother’s keeper” and “No man is an island”. We must continue to find intersections that inspire collaboration thus creating pathways towards collective transformation.
you can help
Your pledge can help Bronzeville Community Garden take the next step towards accomplishing a threefold goal:
1. To commission local artists to design, execute, and install 10 custom beach umbrellas that will provide critically needed shading for mid-summer days that, heretofore have scorched garden visitors.
2. To enhance the garden’s infrastructure and appearance by investing in garden materials, signage, and a living fence.
3. To substantially expand our capability to engage neighborhood residents by offering gardening instruction, community-wide games and tournaments, children’s activities, and bicycle rides and workshops.
Bronzeville Community Garden™ is an urban oasis that provides a fun, safe, accessible gathering place and destination in the heart of Bronzeville. We are committed to beautifying our community, celebrating our rich cultural heritage, and promoting healthy eating and a sustainable environment.
The garden is sponsored by Urban Juncture Foundation and has received several honors and grants:
- Mayor Daley’s GreenWorks Award 2010 for Community Leadership
- 2011 Neighborhood Enhancement Grant from South East Chicago Commission
- The Field Museum 2011 Chicago Climate Action Toolkit grantee
- 2011 Illinois Youth Recreation Corps grant
- The Field Museum 2012 Chicago Climate Action Toolkit grantee
The garden is a member of Bronzeville Alliance Green Network and Openlands HomeGrown Chicago Food Garden Network. It is the first culinary enterprise in the Bronzeville Cookin’™ initiative.
100 years ago, Chicago’s Black Belt was the “Promised Land” for African Americans seeking opportunity. Many came from the South drawn by the promise of jobs, education, and full freedom and equality. While freedom and equality would continue to be an unfilled promise, Bronzeville made great progress, giving birth to a vibrant “city within a city” that provided diverse retail, first-class food, leading edge arts and music, and many, many local jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. That bustling economy ground to a halt in the second half of the 19th century, the result of desegregation, of white corporate flight, and of bad public policy. Starting around the turn of the 21st century a rebirth happened. This rebirth, however, comes with many challenges. First among them is how to bring the diverse resident segments together to turn vacant, trash-shrewn lots into thriving gardens, to employ the talents of the community youth wasting away at street corners, to establish retail enterprises to keep money circulating in the community, to reinvigorate local food, arts and music, to bring visitors back into the community - to build a new Bronzeville. Bronzeville Community Garden is designed to play a key role in meeting this challenge. in return for your support [list rewards] risks and challenges Creating, promoting, and sustaining open, public spaces in communities that have been neglected for decades presents challenges that stem from conditions of poverty. Unfortunately, people living on the margins of hope are often plagued by substance abuse that effects one’s ability to navigate effectively; thus, continuing the cycle of poverty. It is our belief that through constructive community engagement we are planting the seeds that afford a stop to this cycle and a promise of a better tomorrow. We have the track record to support our ability to not only engage various segments of our community but also the recognition of being a model for community enhancement and leadership.
Here are some of the one-of-a-kind rewards your will be eligible to receive when you pledge support of our project:
Risks and challenges
Creating, promoting, and sustaining open, public spaces in communities that have been neglected for decades presents challenges that stem from conditions of poverty. Unfortunately, people living on the margins of hope are often plagued by substance abuse that effects one’s ability to navigate effectively; thus, continuing the cycle of poverty. It is our belief that through constructive community engagement we are planting the seeds that afford a stop to this cycle and a promise of a better tomorrow.
We have the track record to support our ability to not only engage various segments of our community but also the recognition of being a model for community enhancement and leadership.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (45 days)