Woodlawn is a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago with a history entrenched in race, class and social justice issues. Since the 1960s, the population has shifted dramatically: the population of over 80,000 decreased to 27,000 in 40 years. White middle-class residents fled the area as thousands of African-Americans moved in after World War II, largely from the south, seeking jobs in a booming industrial Chicago. As the neighborhood faced declining populations for the next half century, poverty and crime rates increased. Yet today, Woodlawn is undergoing revival. “The Woodlawn community is a very activist community” says Joyce Nimocks, the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community committee member. Due to the efforts of community members, a network of Woodlawn organizations work together to better education, public safety, economic development and health in the neighborhood.
This tour specifically focuses on the area of Community Gardens as a way Woodlawn identified that improves neighborhood health and safety problems. With numerous empty lots populating the landscape, urban gardening has become a praised way of repurposing unused land for urban beautification and personal health benefits. Each garden has its own unique history, structure, membership and aims. In this tour, I introduce you to four Woodlawn Gardens that serve this budding community.
Racial/Ethnic Makeup: 91% Black, 4.7% White
Median Household Income: $25,454
Federal Poverty Level (family of 4): $22, 314
Lane, Laura. “Woodlawn Health and Human Services Consortium Presentation.” 2016.
Morrisett, William. Woodlawn Community Garden Contact List. 17 Apr. 2016. E-mail.
Seligman, Amanda. “Woodlawn.” The Encyclopedia of Chicago 2004. Web. 28 May 2016.
Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division: Poverty. Poverty Thresholds by Size of Family and Number of Children. U.S. Census Bureau, 2016. Web. 28 May 2016. Poverty Thresholds.