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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

With Laramie Bank And Silver Shovel Projects On Tap, Forum Invites West Siders To Share How They Want To Develop Their Neighborhoods

The Development Without Displacement community conversation will kick off a three-day event dedicated to supporting the West Side, including a fundraiser and a community resource fair.

The Laramie State Bank redevelopment site in the Austin neighborhood March 12, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WEST SIDE — Is it possible to bring economic development to the West Side without pushing out longtime residents?

One neighborhood group thinks so — but only if community members have a seat at the table with developers.

To support that idea, nonprofit Earth’s Remedies is hosting the Development Without Displacement virtual event April 22, allowing Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Austin, and Humboldt Park residents to learn about projects coming to their neighborhood so they can give their input. You can register for the discussion on Eventbrite.

Break-out groups for each neighborhood also will provide information on community groups offering programs and resources to stave off displacement.

The event, which also commemorates the nonprofit’s five years of serving the West Side, will include a community resource fair and a fundraiser to raise money to support local residents and businesses.

“Our goal is to bring families to the table, let them know the developments that are happening in the next two, three years, and work with resource centers and community leaders to help bring the necessary programs and funding to help meet the community needs,” said Mercedes Pickett, founder of Earth’s Remedies.

The mayor’s INVEST South/West initiative has spurred massive projects on the West Side, like the overhaul of Laramie State Bank and the old Silver Shovel dumps. Those developments will be at the top of the agenda the community conversations in an effort to improve neighborhood participation, said Charles Pickett, vice president of Earth’s Remedies.

“We were listening to community leaders and they were saying that the city of Chicago, unfortunately, is not connecting with the nonprofits within the West Side of Chicago that are doing the grassroots efforts to gain that trust from the community,” he said. “We were hearing the exact same issues within the community seeing at the community we were not a part of it.”

The site of the old Silver Shovel dump, where construction companies – including city contractors – illegally dumped tons of hazardous waste in the ’90s in the North Lawndale neighborhood on March 10, 2021.

The only way for residents to take a stand against gentrification is for them to know about what’s being built and who’s building it, Pickett said. Becoming more aware also allows residents to seek out programs, affordable housing opportunities and resources that can support them.

Connecting locals with neighborhood groups and developers will also create opportunities for residents to access employment openings, build business partnerships and seek out contracts generated by commercial investments, Pickett said.

Earth’s Remedies will also host a virtual fundraiser 6 p.m. Friday to help fund the group’s events and programs including their free tutoring, financial education classes, and wellness resources. The fundraiser will auction items including a guitar, an Xbox One, and a membership to First Ascent climbing gym. Tickets for the fundraiser are available on Facebook.

A free community resource fair will be hosted 11 a.m. Saturday at 2620 W. North Avenue. Earth’s Remedies will be giving out free hot meals, PPE, art, and energy-efficient electrical utility supplies. The event will also connect families to financial resources, credit building seminars, employment services, tutoring, and youth programs.

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

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