I Grow Chicago will break ground on a new play lot Friday, June 28 11:30 am to 3 pm. They will kick off the build process with a service day and ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks from Raymond Lopez, 15th ward alderman.

The play lot is part of I Grow Chicago’s efforts to transform vacant lots and abandoned homes into a Peace Campus of healing resources. Conversations about building a safe play space for children has been in the works for two years, and many community members have expressed their joy and excitement at the beginning of construction happening this Friday.

“It needs to be there. Period. For the kids to play, and to feel safe doing that. It gives the kids a little imagination, in a safe environment.” Ora Bradley says.

This sentiment is shared among the whole neighborhood: “I believe it won’t just be for the kids, it should be for the adults too. I know a lot of adults who never left their neighborhood, never been to a park. Having this playground, the nature play area will expose the kids and adults something that they never have experience,” resident Kandy Scott says.

The play lot will focus on nature play and recycled materials, featuring a chess table made from tree stumps, play kitchen modeled after Englewood resident Ora Bradley’s home, recycled tires, and hill slides. The play space has been collectively designed by neighbors and Krueck + Sexton Architects over three community forums, and construction will be done by a team of local artisans Erik Peterson, Lara Rosenbush and Bryan Saner alongside job trainees in I Grow Chicago’s Strive to Thrive program.

The team working on this project, have been listening to community members for what they envision will be included in the play lot. When they met with I Grow Chicago founder Robbin Carrol, they connected on the collective vision of “really involving the people that live here, to have ownership of that space.”

“It’ll be a good asset to the community, to the Peace Campus. It’s somewhere the kids can play, where the elders can sit, where families can come together.” Englewood neighbor Karen Clark remarks.