Summer on Dorchester Ave.

In Chicago, 5 summer design residents have been working hard on making the outdoor spaces at the South Dorchester Ave site engaging. Andy has been building fences and cleaning up empty lots with some of our teenage apprentices from the block. Kate and I have been working on designing, building, and planting some of the spaces around 6916.
Because we are here for such a short period of time, we wanted to make our presence known and understood to our neighbors as visitors. Hence, the block picnic!

Block Picnic Taken by Elly Fishman
Block Picnic Taken by Elly Fishman

We get a lot of compliments/questions everyday about what exactly it is that we’re doing, what that house is, whether or not we’re ever going to paint it, etc. But for the most part neighbors and passers-by seem extremely happy and inspired by the place. The phrase we hear most often is probably “That’s different!”

Taken by Hallie Chen
Taken by Hallie Chen

Tree Camp

A 80 foot Silver Maple on our site was rotten and hollow and had to be taken down. We saw this as an opportunity to interact with this often ignored member of the neighborhood- the tree!

David and Elly Reading taken by Hallie Chen
David and Elly Reading taken by Hallie Chen

We ran activities for young neighbors on the block everyday from 9-12 for a week to learn about urban ecology, tree life cycles, how to be urban biologists, where wood and paper come from, and how to play with plant materials. Kate, Elly, as well as some very helpful friends.

Diamond Takaya and Kayla Drawing by Hallie Chen
Diamond Takaya and Kayla Drawing by Hallie Chen

“Where does paper come from?”

“TREES!”

“Where does paper come from?”

“TREES!”

A little bit of systemic thinking never hurt anybody.

Silver Maple Slice necklaces taken by Hallie Chen
Silver Maple Slice necklaces taken by Hallie Chen

The tree was cut down by professionals on the last day of activities and the kids were each given a slice of a branch to decorate and turn into a necklace.

Taken by Elly Fishman
Taken by Elly Fishman
Taken by Elly Fishman
Taken by Elly Fishman
Jumping Rope taken by Jiayu Qin
Jumping Rope taken by Jiayu Qin
Hot Day Yard work taken by Elly Fishman
Hot Day Yard work taken by Elly Fishman

As for building projects in July, we’ll be working on our vegetable container garden made from salvage wood scraps, a mini gathering space and garden in front of 6916, and the backyard.

Planter Full of Perennials
Planter Full of Perennials

This space in front of 6916 was a dirt weed-patch last week. With a few 4x4s, some gravel and dirt, a trip to a nursery, and a donation from Easy Tree, we have a lush and medium maintenance planter filled with perennials- so this will hopefully come back even more beautifully next year. We are saving the ultra-low maintenance plantings for the sidewalk plots and alternative lawns. Our most high-maintenance growing projects are the vegetable containers.

Andy has been building a beautiful fence around the empty lot that he and the crew cleaned up.

We’re also helping out Dorchester Projects with some artist residency things like the outdoor movie screenings.

 

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