Chicago’s Southside, one of the epicenters of African-American culture in the United States and once a home to smog-belching factories and industrial meat-processing plants, is on its way to become one of the world’s greatest urban eco-districts. Over the next decade, the Green Healthy Neighborhoods Plan aims to revitalize the blighted community with a mix of urban agriculture and new, environmentally friendly businesses.
Chicago’s Englewood, Washington Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods were once home to a thriving street life, centered around bustling locally-owned businesses and the famous jazz and blues scene of the 1950s and 1960s. Slowly, the big industries that formed the economic backbone of the region left and by the 1980s the area had become derelict. Crime, poverty, violence and drug abuse have held a deep foothold here, though in recent years there have been signs of change.
The Green Healthy Neighborhoods Plan is city-initiated, but it is a manifestation of a grassroots movement for change. A renaissance of urban farming has occurred here in the last decade thanks to organizations such as Growing Home, a farm that trains down-and-out residents with practical food-growing skills. A number of other urban farms and associated businesses already exist, and the new plan calls for many more – all clustered around the axis of a new bike and pedestrian path that will serve as a green artery giving life to the southside’s future main street corridor.
Images via City of Chicago