LITTLE VILLAGE — Little Village residents can share their visions and hopes for environmental justice as part of a community art workshop series this month.
The event is a collaboration between the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and artist William Estrada’s Mobile Street Art Cart initiative, which organizes street art workshops. The environmental group plans to compile ideas and artwork from the sessions to create a coloring book and community mural.
The workshop is 3-5 p.m. Wednesday at the Little Village Branch Library, 2311 S. Kedzie Ave.
Residents can design their own coloring sheets or write in any environmental issues they have noticed in the neighborhood.
Jocelyn Vasquez, a coordinator with the Little Village group, said the idea came together in summer 2020. Along with the spread of COVID-19, which disproportionately affected Black and Latino neighborhoods, the community was contending with the fallout of a botched implosion at the old Crawford Coal Plant that blanketed the neighborhood in dust.
“We were looking for ways for people in the community to showcase their art during the pandemic,” Vasquez said. “People were impacted by COVID and then also respiratory issues with the implosion. We wanted to honor these residents and give them a voice.”
Other neighbors have voiced concerns about the amount of diesel truck traffic through the community, Vasquez said. In 2021, the Little Village group joined other local activists to protest a new Target warehouse in the area, citing concerns about how increased diesel traffic may worsen air quality.
The group hopes to complete the coloring book and mural by next summer, with the coloring book available for free to residents, Vasquez said. A location has not yet been chosen for the mural, but Vasquez said the group is leaning toward La Villita Park, which opened in 2014 after a 20-year fight to convert it from a contaminated industrial site.
With the workshops, the group hopes to center community members’ voices, Vasquez said.
“The goal is to promote inclusivity and racial equity, especially with how environmental racism affects people of color,” she said. “We want to inspire people to take action.”