With outbreaks of violence continuing to hit the Englewood community, residents and volunteers have created a space that promotes peace. Consisting of 6 vacant lots and two renovated homes, The I Grow Chicago “Peace Campus” offers residents a safe sanctuary that aims to empower families.
Through the non-profit organization, Englewood residents receive mentorship and support services. Education on farming and sustainable food growth. Restorative justice and community building. Along with yoga and healing practices. The “Peace House,” on once the most violent corner, 64th, and Horne, is now seen as a beacon of hope. A testament to the work community members and volunteers have put in over the last seven years.
The “Peace House” offers several healing programs for families in Englewood. Programs like “Life After School” and “Summer of Hope.” And with the assistance of supporters and donations, I Grow Chicago has raised $600,000 in the community infrastructure. Plus $100,000 in the community member employment fund.
The “Peace Garden,” two former vacant lots eroded with litter and toxins, is now a rich source of healing, food, and connection to self, community, and the earth. Situated next to the “Peace House,” the “Healing Justice Court” is a vacant lot transformed into a basketball court that residents use for yoga, restorative justice circles, and games.
“When I started I Grow Chicago 7 years ago,” says Robbin Carroll, the Founder and President of I Grow Chicago. “I couldn’t imagine that we would be here today. With our Peace Campus touching over 3,000 residents each year.”
Sol Anderson, the recently appointed Executive Director, sees the organization as a model for building peace and love in the Englewood community.
“The first time I stepped onto the I Grow Peace Campus,” says Anderson. I immediately understood the importance and impact. Everyone who has played a part in making I Grow what it is today has clearly brought the “If in doubt, love” spirit” to the intersection of 64th & Honore.”
In response to the COVID pandemic, I Grow Chicago has provided over 31,000 prepared meals and made 1,800 deliveries to families in need of supplies. I Grow Chicago has done what many city officials have neglect to do. And that is bringing a change to a community under siege. If you’d like to donate to I Grow Chicago, please do so by clicking the following link. https://www.igrowchicago.org/donate/
Ali is a freelance writer within the Black and Hip-Hop culture with featured articles in multiple publications. Follow his Instagram @Choose_Wisey2.