NORTH LAWNDALE — Young people on the West Side are being asked to participate in an art project that will map North Lawndale’s gardens and green spaces.
The wayfinding map will link many of the neighborhood’s gathering places and amplify community programs at each location. The map series is being developed by the North Lawndale GROWWS committee, a team dedicated to achieving community-led revitalization by activating and beautifying public places.
Six people ages 16 to 25 will be selected to join the team designing the map. Participants will receive a $200 stipend for participating in three online meetings planning the maps that will begin in late March. Interested youth can apply by filling out an application online.
Some of the projects that would be highlighted operate out of modified shipping containers that members of the GROWWS committee have installed at sites to better use the open land. Organizers want the map to visually connect the shipping boxes so they don’t appear to be one-off projects, but rather a model for how the community can reclaim underused places.
One of those is the Lawndale Pop-Up Spot, a community mini-museum that houses events and exhibits around the neighborhood. The portable museum was created in a customized 20-foot shipping box installed at Spaulding Memorial Garden at 16th Street and Spaulding Avenue.
“We thought it would be really cool to let people know that these aren’t just storage boxes. They aren’t just recycled pieces of metal. They’re an effort to provide sustainable, affordable options for public usage in various ways,” said Jonathan Kelley, a member of GROWWS and co-founder of the Lawndale Pop-Up Spot.
Another project to be featured in the map is the bicycle lending library created by the Young Men’s Educational Network. The neighborhood group installed a shipping box on a formerly vacant lot on 13th Street and Pulaski Road and outfitted it with more than 20 donated bicycles that can be borrowed by community members and neighborhood groups.
The shipping box at the PermaPark urban food forest at 1300 S. Pulaski Road is used by the nearby CCA Academy to host educational programs about holistic wellness, urban agriculture and beekeeping. At Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church, one of the shipping boxes was installed as part of an outdoor community stage, which will allow the church to host open mics and other events.
The wayfinding map is being developed with a grant from Spin, one of the companies operating the city’s scooter program. Artist Kahari Blackburn will lead the design of the map so the final result will be “really useful as well as beautiful,” Kelley said.
The maps designed will be installed at each of the gardens, and there may be handout maps available for people to take with them. The project could also encourage residents and visitors from other areas to do walking tours and bike tours, Kelley said.
“There are going to be people interested in learning more about [Lawndale], and one way to do that is to have a wayfinding system so that someone … sees this map and can navigate using the scooter or bike to the museum, to the bicycle can, or to the beautiful PermaPark,” Kelley said.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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