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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Mini-Documentary About Efforts To Bring More Trees, Green Space To Lawndale Needs Your Vote To Win Film Competition

Lawndale is one of the city's least green areas, with a tree canopy covering just 16 percent of the neighborhood. "Canopy" tells the story of those aiming to change that.

The film crew for CANOPY shoots at a Lawndale garden.
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NORTH LAWNDALE — A short film documenting efforts to bring more trees, gardens and green space to North Lawndale is competing in a national film competition showcasing the power of design in building resilient communities.

Under the theme “A Blueprint For Better,” the American Institute of Architecture Film challenged filmmakers to tell the stories of architects who are working with neighborhood leaders to address affordable housing, natural disasters and environmental sustainability.

The film “Canopy” takes a slightly different approach to the architecture theme by telling the story of several projects across Lawndale that seek to incorporate more greenery into the urban landscape. Lawndale is one of the city’s least green areas, with a tree canopy covering just 16.6 percent of the neighborhood compared to about 38 percent in neighboring Oak Park, according to an Urban Tree Canopy assessment.

“Green spaces themselves, because they’re made for people to congregate, are a form of architecture,” said Laurie Little, who directed the film in collaboration with Odile Compagnon, who teaches architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Among other projects, the film tells the story of Permapark, a garden at 1330 S. Pulaski Road being developed for students, neighbors and small children with design support from Compagnon.

A green space in North Lawndale where CANOPY is set.

The film also features Unity Park at 1900 S. Kostner Ave., which has become the site for storytelling events, tree plantings and even a performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

“There’s all kinds of events and things that are going on and happening in these green spaces all over North Lawndale. And we’re seeing more and more of these as they grow,” Little said.

The film is competing in a People’s Choice category, the winners of which will be decided by popular vote. To see the other films and vote for a winner, visit the film challenge website. Voting ends Sept. 27.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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