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In partnership with Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago program and Urban Growers Collective, GROUNDS FOR PEACE is the City’s new vacant lot beautification pilot program that's designed to restore 50 city-owned residential vacant lots on Chicago’s South and West sides.
Throughout the summer, the new pilot program will provide employment, skill-oriented job training and development experience for 40 acutely at-risk men, who will be trained to landscape, plant and provide maintenance for lots in North Lawndale, Woodlawn and Englewood.
Inspired by successful programs in other cities with urban gun violence and large concentrations of vacant property, Grounds for Peace is designed to engage community members in reclaiming spaces that have contributed to violence. Research has found that improving the appearance of vacant lots through greening not only can reduce violent crime in the area but also has a positive impact on a wide range of other outcomes, including mental health and broader community wellness.
Heartland Alliance, one of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations, works in communities in the U.S. and abroad to serve those who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Grounds for Peace will leverage Heartland Alliance’s innovative response to gun violence, READI (Rapid Employment and Development Initiative) Chicago, which is currently providing therapy, jobs and support service to over 500 men from communities that have been highly impacted by gun violence. Through Grounds for Peace, approximately 50 READI Chicago participants will have an opportunity to learn and practice new skills like landscaping, planting, and property maintenance in North Lawndale, Woodlawn and Englewood.
Urban Growers Collective (phone: 773-234-4149)
Urban Growers Collective (UGC), founded by Laurell Sims and Erika Allen in the fall of 2017, operates eight urban farms on 11 acres of land predominantly located on Chicago’s south side. Rooted in growing food, UGC cultivates nourishing environments which support health, economic development, healing and creativity through urban agriculture. As part of Grounds for Peace, the City is partnering with UGC to provide substantive landscape training, supervision and expertise on urban land interventions.