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Civic Commons

Interior view of St Laurence School. Photo: Adam Touhey

Reimagining the Civic Commons is a three-year, national initiative that aims to revitalize public spaces and connect people of all backgrounds, cultivate trust within communities, and reverse the trends of social and economic fragmentation in cities and neighborhoods.

The four Civic Commons sites in Chicago include the following which are still in progress:

• St. Laurence School, a former elementary school rescued from abandonment and now being converted into a thriving arts incubator that will help local entrepreneurs grow their businesses. (www.dorchester-industries.com/)

• Kenwood Gardens, a vast green space undergoing revitalization to provide public access to nature. The completed park will feature small artists’ studios and invite residents to play, meditate, or simply enjoy an urban oasis.

• Garfield Park Power House, a former power house that will be transformed into a woodworking studio and product showroom and will serve as a hub of training in design and fabrication. (www.dorchester-industries.com/)

• Stony Island Arts Bank Campus serves as a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine, and share their heritage and as a destination for artists, scholars, curators, and collectors to research and engage with South Side history. The north lawn will be re-developed to include a public garden and will be home to the temporary installation of the Tamir Rice Gazebo, which is being cared for by Rebuild Foundation at the request of Samira Rice. 

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"Philosophy translated into impact dollars in cities where sleepy assets, like park field houses, abandoned libraries, former municipal buildings and land are actioned by people who believe in those places. Startup investments that kick-start possibility in the midst of seemingly impossible conditions. Art for the people, as it were. A response to place politics that hopes to simply make a place better. Bio-diesel for our engine of shared investment and neighborhood possibility."