Building a Better BronzevilleOct 23 2012 · 0 comments · Community Development, Education, K-12 Education
Centers for New Horizons, a community development agency assisting children and families in Chicago’s Bronzeville and Riverdale communities of Chicago’s South Side, is partnering with Sweet Water and community liaisons and educators to bring aquaponics and urban agriculture into local schools in Bronzeville.
Historically, many African Americans moving north in the Great Migration settled in Bronzeville, which became the vibrant community known as The Black Metropolis, home to prominent entrepreneurs, musicians, writers, leaders, and businessmen in the early 20th century. Bronzeville subsequently went through decades of disinvestment, compounded by the construction of miles of concentrated public housing projects in the 1950s, including the infamous Robert Taylor Homes, which have since been demolished. Even before the beginning of reinvestment in Bronzeville, Centers for New Horizons has been operating since 1971, focusing on community collaborations to bring about positive change through a number of different programs.
Sweet Water’s partnership will involve multiple schools in Bronzeville: Jackie Robinson Elementary, Wells Prep Academy, which runs through 8th grade, and Dunbar Career Academy High School. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, 3rd grade students from Jackie Robinson and middle school students from Wells Prep attended a tour at the Chicago State Aquaponics facility, with Sweet Water Executive Director Emmanuel Pratt and CSU Aquaponics Club member Drew Hines.
The next day, students, parents, teachers, and community representatives met to record interviews that were compiled by Vocalo, a Chicago area station that is the self-proclaimed “cool kid sister” to Chicago’s Public Radio station, WBEZ 91.5 FM and seeks to connect with a “younger, culturally diverse audience.” The interview was conducted in a classroom at Jackie Robinson Elementary, where Sweet Water has recently installed a mini aquaponics unit, constructed by Dennis Muhammed. Jason Axt constructed and installed the system at Wells Prep Academy and is currently developing the system for Dunbar Career Academy High School. During the interview at Jackie Robinson, students shared their reflections about aquaponics and their recent visit to the Chicago State Aquaponics Center.
This past Monday, Vocalo Morning AMp hosts Brian Babylon and Molly Adams shared recordings from these interviews accompanied by a panel discussion with the lead architects of this partnership, including Sweet Water’s Emmanuel Pratt, John Owens, the Director of Community Building for Centers for New Horizons, and Lorenzo Young, a community representative from the local school council who previously taught at Jackie Robinson. The words of these students as well as the commentary about the vision of what aquaponics might bring to this community represent Sweet Water’s vision for building resilient 21st century communities. Please listen to the interview and share with anyone who might be interested in what Sweet Water is doing in Chicago and Milwaukee schools!