Raising the RND House at The Commons

On Saturday, July 13, the Sweet Water community once-again partnered with Trillium Dell, masters of timber craft and frame construction, to hand raise a timber frame pavilion at The Commons. The new structure, known as the RND House, was commissioned as part of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial (Biennial). Sweet Water Foundation is a Contributor to the Biennial, which opens September 19, 2019 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

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Courtney Hug
Summer Volunteers at The Commons

This summer, SWF welcomed 300 volunteers from PPM America to The Commons for weekly volunteer days in partnership with Chicago Cares. Throughout June and July, more than 25 volunteers visited The Commons each week for a 2-hour intensive volunteer experience. The Sweet Water and PPM America teams developed a consistent relationship and an emerging partnership over the summer and successfully worked on new and old projects at The Commons. 

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Tanya Scruggs Ford

Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Tanya Scruggs Ford. Tanya has been a part of the Sweet Water community since 2018 and recently joined the SWF team as a Human-In-Residence to support Sweet Water Academy’s Summer Urban Ecology Apprenticeship Program. She is a local artist who makes unique and beautiful pieces of jewelry out of reclaimed wood. Tanya is also an educator and a mentor who brings her creativity, imagination, and sense of wonder to The Commons.

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Courtney Hug
Reconnecting to the Patient Experience at The Commons

On Friday, July 12, a group of 7 nursing students from Malcolm X College visited The Commons with their instructor, Dr. Dawn Wilson, for a tour and to get their hands in the soil at the Sweet Water Community Farm. This is the second group of nursing students that Dr. Wilson has brought to The Commons to introduce concepts of growing healthy food and expose them to community health resources, such as Sweet Water Foundation, that they may not know exist.

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Angela Ford

Meet Angela Ford...Angela has been in the SWF family since July of 2018. She grew up on the South side of Chicago and has a deep passion for family, tradition, and honoring her ancestors. Angela has spent time at The Commons documenting and sharing the story of the surrounding community and families by archiving pictures and documents found in the area. SWF is excited to feature Angela this month because her relationships with SWF demonstrates another dimension of Sweet Water Foundation that is not always talked about.

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Courtney Hug
Inaugural Sweet Water Academy Immersion with MIT CREATE

In partnership with MIT CREATE, the inaugural Sweet Water Academy Immersion took place over a 2-week period in June (June 9-22) and culminated with SWF’s Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration at The Commons.  The MIT CREATE team, led by CREATE co-founders and MIT faculty John Kennedy and Kate Mytty, included 3 MIT graduate students in Architecture and Urban Planning and 1 graduate student of Public Health-Epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

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Courtney Hug
Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration @ The Commons

Sweet Water Foundation’s Second Annual Juneteenth at The Commons took place on Saturday, June 22, 2019, welcoming hundreds of people on a beautiful summer day to create, build, and celebrate freedom and community. The Commons was transformed into a vibrant festival atmosphere with live music, food, dance, public art exhibits, vendors, basketball, arts + crafts, and more.

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Courtney Hug
Yoga in the Lightbox Theater + Gallery

On Sunday, June 16 the Lightbox Theater + Gallery was transformed into a yoga studio for an hour of Vinyasa Flow yoga. Ten people gathered in the Thought Barn to relax their minds, activate their muscles, and stretch their bodies during the session led by yoga instructor, Clif Hurt. Clif’s family has been visiting Sweet Water Foundation to harvest produce and enjoy The Commons for over a year. SWF was excited to welcome a member of the SWF Family to lead the first yoga session at The Commons.

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Courtney Hug
Building Critical Connections with Dr. Abdullah Pratt

Dr. Abdullah Pratt, an Emergency Medicine physician at the University of Chicago Medical Center, first visited Sweet Water Foundation via friend and SWF team member, Taryn Randle. Dr. Pratt is a native of Chicago’s South Side, Emergency Medicine Attending, and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago. He is committed to serving his community not only through his work at UChicago’s Trauma Center, but also by sharing his knowledge with both community members and his professional peers. Read on to learn about the critical connections developing at The Commons.

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Courtney Hug
Fractal Workshop at Kalamazoo College

On May 9, 2019, members of Sweet Water Foundation’s core team journeyed to the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in southwestern Michigan to lead a Fractal Building Workshop for a group of students, faculty, and local residents. The trip was initiated by a former SWF Fellow, Yasi Shaker. During her time as a Fellow, Yasi became part of the SWF family and immersed herself in SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development. When her fellowship came to an end in December 2018, Yasi began making plans to share what she learned with students, faculty, and community members in Kalamazoo.

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Taryn Randle

Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Taryn Randle. Taryn has been part of the SWF Family since 2017. Taryn was born and raised on the South side of Chicago and is a force of change within the community. Taryn has dedicated time and energy to connecting young people to the earth and one another. Sweet Water Foundation is excited to welcome Taryn as the newest member of the SWF Core Team and is grateful for the skills and experience Taryn brings as a farmer, teacher, learner, connector, and Solutionary.

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Courtney Hug
Civic Collaboratory @ The Commons

On April 3, 2019,  members of the Chicago Civic Collaboratory gathered at The Commons for their Spring convening dinner. More than 40 representatives of nonprofits, community-based organizations, and civic institutions across Chicago had an opportunity to network, learn about Sweet Water Foundation, and share the first farm-to-table meal of the season in SWF’s Lightbox Theater + Gallery.

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Courtney Hug
[Re]Rooting at The Commons: Exploring the Fifth Dimension of Citizenship

Despite rainy weather, over 40 people gathered at The Commons on April 18 to Explore the Fifth Dimension of Citizenship and [Re]Root themselves, in reality, possibility, and community. Dimensions of Citizenship was an exhibition that investigated the meaning of citizenship and the impact of design and architecture on the relationship between places where one lives, where things grow, and where things are built or torn down. Sweet Water Foundation was asked to be a satellite site for the exhibition to bridge the gap between museum and community and to demonstrate the possibility of a space like The Commons.

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Jesse Blom

Jesse has been part of the Sweet Water family since 2010 when he worked with SWF to cultivate partnerships with schools and community groups across Milwaukee and Chicago. Although his professional journey has led him to his current role as Executive Director of the Green Heart Project in Charleston, South Carolina, Jesse continues to be a close collaborator and an extended member of the SWF team. Green Heart Project uses agriculture as a tool for personal development, education, and community engagement, and will be developing an urban garden in downtown Charleston. SWF is excited to feature Jesse as a partner and lifelong member of the SWF family.

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Courtney Hug
Sweet Water Academy Brings Fractals to Charleston, SC

On March 5, Sweet Water Foundation team members, Devontae Phillips and Armani McCalister, flew to Charleston, South Carolina to lead a fractal building workshop with volunteers and staff of The Green Heart Project. This trip was part of what will be an ongoing exchange program with The Green Heart Project and the first, formal exchange program of SWF’s newly launched, Sweet Water Academy.  Sweet Water Academy seeks to share SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development with educators, practitioners, and community-based organizations across Chicago and beyond via exchange programs, workshops, courses, practitioner residencies, fellowships, and train-the-trainer programs.  The exchange was initiated by Jesse Blom, Executive Director of The Green Heart Project, who previously worked with Sweet Water Foundation as an educator and grower in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Courtney Hug
Radical Imagination Workshop: Artmaking at The Commons

On Friday, March 8, 2019, SWF Human-In-Residence, Tanya Scruggs Ford, led the second workshop in Sweet Water Foundation’s Radical Imagination Workshop Series in the Lightbox Theater + Gallery. The recently launched Radical Imagination Workshop Series promotes artists of color and provides a space for an intergenerational audience to imagine new possibilities and express creativity through art. The first Radical Imagination Workshop, which took place in February, was a Community Sing @ The Commons with the Urban Bush Women that welcomed more than 80 people of all ages to share their story through song + dance. The second workshop of the Radical Imagination series introduced the SWF Core Team to a new artistic medium using materials commonly found at The Commons.

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Courtney Hug
[Re]Designing a Library

On February 28, 2019, 12 students from Senn High School visited The Commons looking for inspiration as they worked on Design4Democracy, a project supported by the Chicago Learning Exchange. The project engaged teens in a collaboration with Convergence Design Labs to redesign their school’s library into a “student-owned civic media space.” During their visit, the students were exposed to the artistic and creative aspects of The Commons and left with inspiration to implement into their project.

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Courtney Hug
Radical Imagination Workshop Series: Community Sing @ The Commons

On Tuesday, February 26, Sweet Water Foundation sparked the Radical Imagination of more than 80 children, families, students from Chicago Free School, and artists in the  Lightbox Theater & Gallery during the Urban Bush Women's Community Sing at The Commons. The space was activated by the power of song, dance, and community. The Community Sing was the first workshop in the “Radical Imagination Workshop Series,” welcoming an intergenerational audience to express their creativity and story through song + dance.

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Danny Salomon

Meet Danny Salomon... Danny first visited The Commons in September of 2017 while visiting Chicago. In 2018, he came back to learn more about SWF’s practice and, within six months, was invited to become a SWF Human-in-Residence with a focus on Design+Build. Humans-in-Residence are Lifelong learners, artists, and contributors of all ages and talents that engage in an immersive and generative experience with lasting impact. Danny’s residency took place from  February 23, 2019 - March March 9, 2019. During this intensive, 2-week period at The Commons, Danny stayed in the Think-Do House and worked alongside the SWF team on the design of the [Re]Construction House, design and build a storage system for a shipping container, and, most importantly, becoming part of the SWF Family.

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Courtney Hug
January 2019 Puppet Show

For a third time in less than a year, the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival Neighborhood Tour hosted a puppet show at Sweet Water Foundation. On January 18th, 2019, SWF welcomed more than 25 people to the Lightbox Theater + Gallery located in SWF’s Thought Barn for an international puppet show. This event was not only the first performance at The Commons in 2019, but also the inaugural, public art performance in the Lightbox Theater + Gallery.

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Courtney Hug