Community gardens have become havens in many Chicago neighborhoods. Whether they are vegetable gardens, providing healthy food in food desert neighborhoods, or gardens of flowers and ornamentals to nourish the soul, they help to make the city a better place to live.
Yesterday I attended the dedication of a new community garden in Englewood, the Heritage Station garden. It's part of a larger plan to create green space in the neighborhood. One of the organizers of the project, Terina Cranshaw-Hodges, expressed hope that people could find peace in the neighborhood's green spaces and that she would like to see an end to violence in the neighborhood. The celebration was a beautiful realization of the plans described in this CBS news feature from a year ago.
Several local musicians entertained the crowd. My favorite was 11-year-old Max Lulich, a talented violinist.
This location has historical significance to Englewood, and to the African American people of Chicago. It was formerly a train station, the location where many new arrivals from the South took their first steps into a new life in Chicago during the Great Migration. Amtrak trains still pass overhead, although the station itself is long gone.
Camera crews from local TV stations were there to cover the event. Here are links to stories by WGN (ch. 9) and ABC (ch. 7).
Stay Environmentally Focus'd, a grassroots organization, worked with volunteers, aldermen and Openlands, which helped them to develop plans for the space, get benches and other amenities, construct the garden, and get funding from the Exelon Foundation to pay for it.
I'm a strong believer that green spaces in the city (parks, gardens, and trails) can help to unite neighbors within a community and create bonds with other communities. I hope that projects like this can help to promote peace and health in neighborhoods all over the city.