A stiff breeze off the lakefront may have chilled our vegetation until the spring, but an exciting fervor for planting and growing has been brewing in our solutionary meetings with new and evolving plans for the future!
Our three main programs have reaped great success and lessons for us this past year.
The children’s garden remains an active staple in the ‘playground’ of LETS GO
Chicago. We maintain a fruitful partnership with the United Church of Rogers Park to help elementary school students to dig in and learn in our victory garden. Their textbooks are the raised beds in front of Koinonia house, an intentional community that is part of our home base, where they learn to identify, cultivate, know and love the land. This summer was jam packed with all kinds of fun games and activities with new kids and instructors. This fall we continued the fun pickling cucumbers and painting pumpkins ahead of the first frost. Just like perennials, the children’s garden will blossom once again in the Spring bringing with it new adventures and lessons.
The community yard-share program has spread through the grapevine of our warm Rogers Park community. This past summer we installed dozens of raised beds in several community gardens and watched neighbors share land, and exchange the recipes of community building. Over the summer we developed a yard-share booklet that details the concept of our yard-sharing network. In the next several months we hope to complete a “how to organize a yard-sharing network in your community” instruction booklet. Ultimately, we hope to help expand networks and see them become more inclusive and sustainable through community members.
Our Green Infrastructure Program helps individuals transform their homes to save water and redirect stormwater into the local landscape. The program is the only for profit structure that is currently worked into our organization and is on its way to becoming an independent youth owned cooperative in 2013. Leaders and volunteers retrofitted a number of homes and installed several rain gardens this summer to help our neighbors increase native habitat, save water, and reduce flooding risks in their homes. We can’t wait to announce the full structure of our business venture in the coming months!
With the support of a dynamic group of leaders, volunteers and partners these programs have proven to be successful initiatives and have been an appetizer to the new initiatives we are planning for the spring and summer. Several new group leaders have joined LETS GO to head up new and expanding project areas that will include rural faming, greenhouse plant production, herbal medicine, and local high schools. Among several new opportunities, LETS GO Chicago is officially partnering with The White Rose Catholic Worker Farm located in Mone, IL to teach urban dwellers about rural agriculture. The radical Catholic Workers have been open-minded partners that are open to the exciting possibilities to use their land for education and community building!
Last, but not least, we are super stoked to be hosting the January Gathering for Grand Aspirations in Chicago this year! Welcoming members from regions all over the US will be a great way to collaborate and exchange ideas with our fellow solutionaries!
About our team
Molly Costello moved to Rogers Park 5 years ago from Southern California. As an artist, activist, and growing agriculturalist, she loves to keep her hands dirty with one material or another. Molly enjoys living in community in the heart of LETS GO Chicago’s home-base. She is looking forward to continuing her journey of education around agriculture, place-making, and how to bring the spirit back into our daily work in Rogers Park.
Peter Hoy grew up in the Chicago area and escaped to Portland, Oregon for a short stint before returning to take on the challenges of creating environmental change in the nation’s 3rd largest city. He has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies from Loyola University Chicago and has been teaching garden-based education to neighborhood children in Rogers Park since 2010. He lives in the Koinonia Intentional Community and enjoys making large pots of food to share with friends and neighbors.
Pavan Maddamsetti is an upcoming graduate of Indiana University, and a dedicated science buff. He is enthusiastic about learning anything and everything, and wishes to bring an innovative spirit to the work of building sustainable communities.
Lookman Muhammed is originally from Lagos, Nigeria and grew up in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. He is currently working as a sustainable community organizer through Grand Aspirations. He works advocating Restorative Justice practices in the community through peace circles, and came to Grand Aspirations to learn new skills and represent youth in Rogers Park.
Marissa Neuman is a recent graduate from Loyola University and current student at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is interested in exploring how her passions for art, feminism, food-justice, and gardening intersect and how they can blossom. She is most excited about joining forces with new community partners to amplify and empower unheard voices.
Nell Seggerson moved from Columbus, OH to Chicago in order to attend Loyola University where she will graduate this spring with bachelors degrees in Education and History. She is excited to continue working in Rogers Park, building community-based educational opportunities for her neighbors and self. She is also delighted to sharing the experience of learning how to grow food in the city.
Ethan Viets-VanLear is seventeen years old and was born and raised in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. His goal in life is to enhance and enrich the communities he comes into contact with and the people in those communities.