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Urban Earth Day

An Urban Earth Day event April 22 will establish Kennedy-King College as a “green hub” for the South Side, part of the greening of Englewood and the “green village building” strategy of Blacks In Green.

Naomi Davis of BIG envisions the college offering training in green trades and, beyond that, establishing a “green business school” to help build sustainable communities that will heal violence and alienation.

An “eco-fest” starting at 11 a.m. will feature family activities promoting ecological awareness — recycling activities, healthy cooking demonstrations, and workshops on energy conservation, urban gardening and bicycling.

Douglas Farr and Orrin Williams will speak at a closing program at 5:30 p.m. Farr is a noted local green architect whose new book, “Sustainable Urbanism,” argues that environmentalist need to move beyond an enthusiasm for green buildings to build sustainable communities.

Williams is a long-time environmentalist who directs the Center for Urban Transformation, aimed at creating ecologically sustainable communities and economic development projects in communities of color. He also directs employment training for Growing Home’s Wood Street Urban Farm at 58th and Wood. He’ll discuss models for the greening of Englewood.

“It’s important that the people of Englewood and other people of color tune into environmental issues, particularly as related to the emerging green economy and green jobs,” Williams said.

Fresh food in corner stores

He’s been working with Teamwork Englewood, whose quality of life plan identified access to healthy food as a community priority. He talks about a range of strategies, from a new farmers market to establishing produce markets and installing produce kiosks in corner stores, and even re-establishing the hand-pushed produce carts once common in the city.

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Healthy food in Englewood

Chitown Daily News reports on efforts to develop a “community food system” in the food desert of Englewood, with Teamwork Englewood and Growing Home among those talking the lead.  Growing Home operates an urban farm at 58th and Wood; Teamwork Englewood is including access to healthy food as part of the community’s “quality of life” planning process.  Plans include an Englewood Farmers Market — run by students at Lindblom Academy and opening in June — and a “kiosk project” to provide fresh produce in corner stores.

Recruiting LSC candidates

“The community here takes LSC elections very seriously — just as seriously as Hillary and Barack,” said Darryl Bell of Teamwork Englewood.

The group is one of a dozen around the city working with “minigrants” from the CPS Office of LSC Relations to recruit candidates for April LSC elections. The deadline for candidates to file is March 12.

PURE recently posted an updated guide to LSC elections (pdf).

Bell reports enthusiasm among community residents for the elections — in part motivated by concern over the consolidation of the Miles Davis Magnet and Vernon Johns Middle Schools. He said the change could create trouble by requiring students to cross gang boundaries.

Bob Vondrasek at South Austin Coalition reports a bit more difficulty in recruiting candidates. Organizers have encountered some negative attitudes toward LSCs, he said.

“Some go bad. Some are controlled by the principal,” he said. “But even with all the flaws, they’re still doggone worth having. They’re the only way you can have some kind of voice in the school.

“At it’s best, a good LSC and a good principal are the two key things. You get more parental involvement and more community involvement.”

“It’s extremely difficult motiving parents to run for LSCs when the board continues trying to close or turn-around schools” — acting unilaterally, without consulting their LSCs, said Wanda Hopkins, a parent advocate at PURE and LSC member at Lewis school who’s working with SAC on candidate recruitment.

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