Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pocket Parks Turn Little Village Green

On the same day that Little Village residents engaged in a planning charrette to flesh out ideas for a new park on the Washburne Trade School site, more than 50 others were implementing a shorter-term solution: planting and sprucing up four "pocket parks" on and around 26th Street. (Slideshow below.)

Christina Bronsing, health manager for Enlace Chicago, said local youth, residents and students from DePaul University planted 1,000 flowers donated by Hampshire Farms, spread a truckload of mulch provided by the city, created art boards to post at the sites, and made more than 100 "seed bombs" (balls of dirt with a clay shell that have seeds inside and can be thrown into spaces in need of green -- mostly tall, bright plants like sunflowers).

"I was thrilled to see everyone out, finally getting our hands dirty!" wrote Bronsing in an email. "After a year of talking and planning, coming up with designs, this was the first step in these spaces coming to life and being activated by the community.

"It's the beginning of a big process, but even during the course of the day we were able to see the project grow as folks met other neighbors, explained the pocket parks idea, and invited them to be part of it. We were able to integrate many components of the vision beyond just planting and transforming the landscape. We had art going on, hands-on projects, learning through experience and creating seed bombs to spread the green all over the neighborhood."

The vision, Bronsing said, is to include murals, workshops, and multiple layers of community involvement, starting in May and June with screenings of classic Mexican films at the four sites, which are at 26th and Kolin (Manuel Perez Plaza), 26th and Trumbull, 25th and Keeler and 27th and Kildare.

Where those seed bombs ended up is anyone's guess. Keep your eyes open for sunflowers on the neighborhood's industrial edges.

Photos by Juan Francisco Hernandez for Chicago Neighborhood News Bureau.

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