First Annual Garden Walk - a Great Success!
Friday, July 29, 2016
Posted by: Caitlin Sarro
After four months of planning and collaboration, the First Annual Garden Walk successfully engaged 100 residents on July 16th. The tours were free and accessible throughout the day, and the weather was perfectly 78 degrees and sunny. Sparked by a planning workshop at the February Seed Swap & Hub Day, ICA staff organized the event with members of Eco Up, a community-based environmental action group for residents of Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and surrounding communities.
The walk showcased 24 public and semi-private gardens throughout the day to highlight the community’s green infrastructure. In a community with relatively few single-family homes and personal green space, the focus on public green space supported an image of Uptown as a community with many shared assets.
Attendees had the option of joining one of the guided tours or setting their own pace on a self-guided tour. The guided tours were the more popular option, which allowed attendees to engage with other community members, learn extra Uptown history, and play animalia project's gardening in a changing climate BINGO game to enter a raffle for prizes from local sponsors. Each tour had a theme which uncovered specific elements of the Uptown community.
The day started with the Sidewalk Garden Tour around the Sheridan Park and Buena Park neighborhoods which showcased reimagined public spaces that are not traditionally thought of as ‘gardens’. Highlights of the tour were the gardens with volunteers who presented on the garden history and ways to get engaged. For example, the design of Sunnyside Mall’s 2-block stretch incorporates historic elements of the buildings as well as playful elements to reflect the children in the community.
The afternoon walk explored Coastal Gardens along Uptown's original coastline, highlighting beautiful park and community gardens as well as restored native habitat along the lakefront. As a part of the Uptown Coastal Initiative to bring greater awareness to Uptown's historic coast, this tour featured insights from historical, cultural, and ecological perspectives, providing residents with many new insights about Uptown.
The Heritage Gardens Tour was held just before sunset and toured Uptown's central corridor and Sheridan Road, showing where Uptown's powerful history meets our present. This tour focused on ways that historic structures continue to serve our current community, such as the Winthrop Family Historical Garden.
Garden walk attendees were excited to learn more about how to get involved in their local gardens and sustainability initiatives in Uptown. A number of garden hosts invited residents to contribute through volunteer opportunities. Attendees were also encouraged to join the Eco-Up group and the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network to remain engaged and informed on future initiatives.