The South Side of Chicago in particular, saw an outburst of steel production during World War II that at one point, accounted for 20 percent of all steel made in the U.S. But steel production in the ’50s and ’60s declined and many factories were abandoned, leaving behind harm to the land and its residents.
Promises by the government to clean up contaminated and vacant properties have been slow to materialize, leaving the community to come up with its own solutions. Organizations like the Urban Growers Collective are spearheading such efforts to make green spaces more just and equitable in areas that have been historically divested.
Darion Crawford, an Urban Farmer and Compost Coordinator with UGC spoke with with Hugo Balta, publisher of Illinois Latino News on the podcast, “3 Questions With…” about supporting communities in developing systems where food is grown, prepared, and distributed within the community itself.
Crawford is also a cohort in this year’s Latino Policy Forum’s Multicultural Leadership Academy. MLA’s goal is to provide a diverse group of civic leaders with the leadership skills needed to facilitate collaboration between Latinos and African Americans through intercultural collaboration and social action.
“Like the farm spaces, it’s a safe space,” said Crawford of MLA. Being allowed to be vulnerable and be heard says Crawford, gives him support for the work he does with the Urban Growers Collective.
“3 Questions With…” is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN), an independent, multimedia digital news outlet with local newsrooms in the Northeast and Midwest, including IL Latino News and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community centric news, hyperlocal stories and educational resources.