CULTIVATING COMMUNITY IN UPTOWN’S COAST
The series uses ICA’s popular education-based methods to produce transformative and engaging curriculum. The design was written to meet the audience ‘where they are at’ and link it back to Uptown’s coast. Each session delves into the history of Uptown’s coast as it relates to different content areas, shares a current initiative, and finishes with an experiential learning component, often a neighborhood walk. ICA staff partners with local experts to present in the different topic areas and lead the tours.
Highlights from the four sessions from July through October are listed below:
Representatives from Divvy and the Active Transportation Alliance presented on bike infrastructure, opportunities to provide feedback into future bike infrastructure, and bike safety. The group walked along US Bike Route 37 to the site of the proposed Lakeshore Trail separation. The night ended with test rides on Divvy bikes!
Underutilized Community Spaces
Pulling together seemingly unrelated topics from Full Moon Fire Jam, the International Dark Skies Association, and the Lincoln Park Honeybee Grove, attendees reflected upon how utility of a space is determined. The night sky was showcased as a massive ‘underutilized space’ due to light pollution. The evening coastal walk highlighted creatively used community spaces. The night ended with stargazing, and the group was able to view Saturn and the Moon’s surface through a homemade telescope provided by a Chicago Astronomical Society volunteer!
Paired with the Uptown Garden Walk, presenters from Animalia Project and Weiss Hospital Urban Rooftop Farm shared linkages between urban agriculture and Uptown’s coast and the resulting benefits and challenges. Highlights of the event were animals and insects including the chickens at Weiss Farm, the Lincoln Park Honeybee Grove beehive, and Rosie the Pig—all very critical members of urban agriculture!
Representatives from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and SITE design shared details about the development of the Uplift Plaza, currently a large concrete area around a local high school, that will be turned into a bike- and pedestrian-friendly green space and provide a learning opportunity for nearby students about stormwater mitigation and gardening.
The first half of the series has been a great success. Many residents have attended multiple events and invited friends, indicating that the series is promoting community around sustainability in the coast. One attendee said that the tour spots were transformed from places to meaningful community spaces, suggesting a new image about accessing the coast.
The final four sessions are planned for spring of 2018. At the conclusion of the project, ICA will produce a toolkit for coastal educators that shares session content and recommendations for a multi-disciplinary curriculum.
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