“I like my community. I like the functions that we have, I like the culture and all that.  But… there are just some things that we’re gonna have to fix – like vacant lots and houses like this. This, it just don’t look good. At all.”
– LaFrance, via Youth Shout Out


Our Youth Shout Out project with Allstate, The Chicago Community Trust, and gravitytank gave young people a platform to voice their community concerns and brainstorm solutions.  Over and over, the kids bought up a desire for safe spaces.  In particular, they mentioned wanting new uses for vacant lots.  Instead of being eyesores or sites for fights, they suggested that these lots be transformed into positive spaces.

In response, Get IN Chicago awarded Sweet Water Foundation a grant to bring the idea to life.  Sweet Water’s mission is to democratize, globalize, and commercialize urban agriculture practices for resilient 21st century communities via hands-on, real-world learning grounded in concepts of community, equity, transformation and resilience.  Their grant will enable them to educate youth on STE(A+)M and urban agriculture skills and careers and collaborate with the group to transform at least two lots into sustainable spaces.

2015-318 Youth Shout Out

photo courtesy of Allstate

Sweet Water already operates an urban farm (Perry Ave Community Farm) and training center (Think-Do House) on a previously empty lot in Englewood.  With Get IN Chicago funding, they will expand their reach to students and lots in Roseland and North Lawndale.

To kick off the program, volunteers from Get IN Chicago, Allstate, gravitytank, and the Youth Shout Out project joined volunteers from the community and Alternative Schools Network for a day of service and learning.  The morning gave the group a chance to see Sweet Water’s work in action.  Sweet Water students and community works led volunteers in harvesting basil, tomatoes, and mint from the community garden, an open area where Englewood residents are free to stop by and pick any food that they need.  Volunteers also planted and landscaped the farm area and worked in the garden space, where community members and students are welcome to congregate at benches and tables.


photo courtesy of Allstate

richard edelman


photo courtesy of Allstate

We look forward to tracking Sweet Water’s progress, and what transpires in the Roseland and North Lawndale lots, over the coming year.  Undoubtedly, their collaboration will create places where the entire community can hang out, learn new skills, and enjoy fresh food – and ultimately contribute to a safer community.