Sweet Water Foundation
2018 Annual Summary


2018 was a year of [Re]Construction, [Re]Connection, and [Re]Generation.

We built.

In 2018, Sweet Water Foundation continued the radical [re]construction of the Perry Ave Commons (The Commons) with built projects including design and build of the Smart Pod, construction of the Light Box Theatre + Gallery (within the Thought Barn), and completion of Phase 1 of the gut rehab of a once abandoned home across the street from the Perry Ave Community Farm that is now known as the [Re]Construction House. The Sweet Water team also built more than 200 fractals which exponentially extended the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development across the City of Chicago, across the nation, and across the world.

We created.

In 2018, the arts were integrated into every aspect of Sweet Water Foundation’s work.  From the year-long Radical [Re]Constructions exhibit at the Smart Museum of Art to puppet shows at The Commons to the design + build of dance floors in partnership with Project Tool, Sweet Water Foundation began to restitch the cultural fabric of the community,

 We nourished the land…

The Perry Ave Commons spans more than four-contiguous city blocks. The Sweet Water Foundation team carefully stewards this land through beautification, maintenance, and cultivation of locally grown food on more than 3 acres of land across the Perry Ave Community Farm, Residents’ Farm, and Community Gardens.

 …and people.

For a fifth consecutive harvest season, Sweet Water Foundation provided healthy, locally grown food to more than 200 families each week via the Fresh Food Friday’s, pay-what-you-can market stand and fed home-cooked lunches to ~100 youth, local residents, visitors, and staff each week throughout the summer.

Most importantly, we brought people together…

From volunteers from the Clinton Global Initiative to attendees of the national Grantmakers In Health Conference to artists and art lovers attending the For Freedoms Townhall as part of EXPO Chicago, Sweet Water Foundation welcomed thousands of volunteers, tourists, and visitors from across the city and beyond.


to learn,


In 2018, an intergenerational group of people: apprentices, mentors, local residents, artists, and lifelong learners of all ages gathered at The Commons to learn and un-learn - to return to the root.

Becoming Citizen Scientists at The Commons
Fractal Seating Amplify Educators Workshop
Working Through S.C.A.L.E. Program
Detroit-Chicago Design Collaboration
Sharing at the Urban Farming Conference
Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces Partnership with IIT Design Students
Educator Meetup at The Commons

to express,


Throughout the year, all were welcome to express their identities in regenerative, inclusive, inspiring, and life-giving ways through workshops, family events, and daily interactions.

Fractal Seats and the Arts
SWF Building Blocks Family Day at the Smart Museum of Art
Shadow Puppet Show at The Commons
Dance @ The Commons

to break bread,


Sweet Water Foundation hosted hundreds of people in the Think-Do House and Thought Barn to create spaces of equity where all are welcome to break bread, share, and engage in important conversations and decisions, regardless of background.

Radical [Re]Constructions: Farm-to-Table For All
Radial [Re]Constructions Community Workshop Series
National Association of Minority Architects Visits the The Commons


In 2018, Sweet Water Foundation welcomed thousands of people to The Commons to celebrate community, history, and [re]generation. From informal and impromptu community gatherings to large-scale events, such as the First Annual Juneteenth Celebration and Breakout Chicago @ The Commons, The Commons was activated with life and community all year long.

Together, we practiced Regenerative Neighborhood Development.

At Sweet Water Foundation, our work is more than a mission, it is a practice. Sweet Water Foundation practices Regenerative Neighborhood Development, a creative and regenerative social justice method, that creates safe and inspiring spaces and curates healthy, intergenerational communities that transform the ecology of once-blighted neighborhoods.

In 2018, the Humans of Sweet Water brought the Radical Imagination of our community to life through this practice and laid the foundation for the launch of Sweet Water Academy in 2019 and beyond.

None of this would have been possible without the support and dedication of the SWF Team + Family...

…and the generosity of our Partners and Supporters.


Chicago Architecture Center
Chicago Builds
Chicago Learning Exchange
Chicago Parks District - TRACE
Chicago Public Schools - Career and Technical Education
Getting Grown Collective
Harvard Graduate School of Design
Harvard Social Impact Fellows
Hyde Park Art Center
IllinoiS Institute of Technology
James and Grace Lee Boggs Center
Jordan C. Campbell Photography
Links Hall
Michaelj Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)
Ozuzu Dancers + Project Tool
Peck Elementary
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Smart Museum of Art
Studio Gang Architects
The Silver Room
U.S. Architectural Metal & Glass
University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion
Urban Farming Institute
Village Leadership Academy
Woods Fund

Alphawood Foundation
Anonymous Private Family Foundations
ArtPlace America
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
Chicago Community Trust
Field Foundation of Illinois
Hive Fund at the Chicago Community Trust
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Prince Charitable Trusts
Walter Mander Foundation
UL Innovation Education Award
Illinois Science & Energy Innovation Foundation
Pritzker Traubert Foundation
United Way of Metro Chicago

Aleeza Strubel
Amanda Hanley
Andrew Marquart
Anne Marie Murphy
Ayrika Craig
Betty Billingsley
Brad Uffner
Brenda Gersget
Brian K Ellison
Brielle Ervin
Carol Ann Kendrick
Chantelle Brewer
Clare Butterfield
Clare Tallon Ruen
David Stovall
Deborah Albrecht
Donald Croswell
Edward Moodie
Emily Panci
Fethiya Idris

James Doyle
Jane Diggle
Jason Fizell
Kate Cummings
Kate McGrain
Kathleen Yang-Clayton
Katie Gunter
Kayla Davidson
Kelly Harris
Kelly Williams
Kimberly Lok and Alex Wong
Kimberly Todd
Lapido Famodu
Laura Franzen
Lisa and Michael Kornick
Lorraine and Albert Lok
Marilyn Ammons
Micah Gates
Michael Carriere
Michael Smith
Michele Croswell
Michelle Weir
Nancy Kurshan
Peter Gaeta
Rachel Godsil
Ronell Whitaker
Ryan Withrow
Sam Greenspan
Sarah Goone
Sharon Wolfson and Jake Trussel
Sonce Reese
Sonia Hassan
Susan Marcus
Suzanne Hammersmith
Tajuana E Brown Hurt
Teresa L. Cordova
Yolanda Richards