for May, 2015
For the past year, Emmanuel Pratt (SWF Executive Director) and Rashaan Meador (Sr. Program Coordinator for the Media Communication Arts, Architecture & Construction programs with the Career and Technical Education and Office of College and Career Success) have been exploring opportunities for potential interdisciplinary collaboration. Given CTE’s focus on offering high school students the chance to get a head start on preparing for college and careers and SWF’s mission is to democratize, globalize, and commercialize urban agriculture practices for resilient 21st century communities via hands-on, real-world learning grounded in concepts of community, equity, transformation and resilience, both Rashaan and Emmanuel recognized a tremendous opportunity for cross pollination of programming.
For roughly 6 weeks, Sweet Water Foundation (SWF) and CPS’s Career Technology Education (CTE) program collaborated on an ‘Outreach and Apprenticeship’ pilot project within select classes at ACE (Architecture Construction & Engineering ) Tech and Simeon Career Academy. Building upon an initial Google Sketchup concept 3d model for the Perry Ave Community Garden site, the SWF team began to collaborate with select teachers and high school students within the architecture and construction programs at ACE Tech and Simeon Career Academy in collaboration on the design/build of 20 separate 4’x12’x2′ raised garden beds.
Led under the collaborative guidance of Emmanuel Pratt(SWF), Isiah Rowsey (Simeon Career Academy), Jerome Thymes (ACE Tech), and Juan Banda (ACE Tech), the 20 raised beds were designed and initially constructed on site across both schools. Once completed, the garden beds were then transported to the Perry Ave Community Garden site, filled with a custom organic soil mix supplied by Purple Cow Organics and will now be used by local residents, veterans and their families within the surrounding community as community allotment gardens.
The project culminated on Saturday (May 16th) whereby approximately 60 people ranging in ages 2-82 converged at the Think-Do House over the course of the late morning and early afternoon to participate in the creation of the Perry Ave Community Garden. The focus of this volunteer day was to share in appreciation and extend support for the ongoing efforts of teams at Simeon Career Academy and ACE Tech that participated in the creation of the 20 raised garden beds. Volunteers included local residents, high school students, teams from IBM, Ross Barney Architects, and Hyatt, Orrin Williams from the Center for Urban Transformation, and 20th Ward Alderman Cochran.
As a result of this collaboration, SWF is currently working with CTE to select youth from each school’s Construction & Architecture tracks to work with SWF as paid summer interns under the Harbor Freight Tools “Tools For Schools” Grant – a career pathway exposure project for youth. The work that the students will be doing over the summer will also be part of the “One Summer Chicago” initiative offering career pathway exposure project for youth. A total of 25 youth + 2 teachers as part of pilot project for up to 100 youth and 10 teachers on site for experiential ed tied to schools.
The evolution of the Perry Ave Community Garden site follows along the continuum of the ongoing transformation of otherwise blighted or unused spaces along the Perry Ave Corridor in alignment with the Goto2040 plan, the Green Healthy Neighborhood Initiative, the Food Plan of Chicago, and the Cultural Plan of Chicago.