NORTH LAWNDALE — Television network SHOWTIME is helping improve South and West side neighborhoods where it films some of its most popular Chicago-based shows, like “The Chi” and “Shameless.”
The network is giving $500,000 to a beautification initiative that will clean up 32 vacant lots in North Lawndale and Bronzeville and support six public art installations created by the Chicago Public Art Group.
The investment will “enhance the vibrancy of our commercial corridors” and make the neighborhoods a more welcoming place to live, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.
“This will also attract visitors from other parts to the city to come and spend some time and money there. And that, folks, is how we revitalize socioeconomic engines of entire neighborhoods,” Lightfoot said.
The cleanup of the vacant lots will be led by Greencorps Chicago, a transportation department green job training program “that skills-up individuals who have barriers to employment and empowers them to positively impact their communities,” Lightfoot said.
Some of the clean-up efforts may include removing trash and debris from vacant lots, planting ground coverings, and installing fencing, said Monique Ellington, a board member for Greencorps Chicago.
“We’re taking neglected spaces and turning them into community assets … so they contribute rather than detract from our neighborhoods,” Ellington said.
Partners on the beautification initiative debuted the project’s first art installation at a lot being cleaned up at 3262 W. Ogden Ave.
The mural, “The Cool,” was created by artists Damon Lamar Reed, Dorian Sylvain and Delilah Salgado.
“We are a city that is sophisticated yet grassroots, international yet local, contemporary yet old school,” Reed said. “We are a community of neighborhoods, yet we celebrate as one city.”
The mural is designed to complement the revitalized vacant lots to help “reclaim the unity of Chicago culture while celebrating the diversity of its neighborhoods,” said Chantal Healey, executive director of Chicago Public Art Group.
By making the neighborhoods cleaner and more beautiful, the initiative aims to improve the morale of residents and tee up further investments into the neighborhood, Healey said.
“We believe that every community deserves great art, inspirational and historical art, and in essence, beauty. … Beauty, great art, clean air, clean art and landscapes are not privileges for the few, but for all,” Healey said.
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