[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
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Vora Long Williams

Meet Vora Long Williams...Vora is a lifelong resident of Englewood who has witnessed many changes in the community. Despite the changes, Vora is dedicated to the Englewood community and to connecting people to each other and resources. In 2017, Vora found Sweet Water Foundation during a walk through the neighborhood. She has had the opportunity to get to know the team and see changes at The Commons. After retiring from the US Postal Service, Vora became a community leader and hopes to be a Life Coach someday. Sweet Water Foundation is excited to share Vora’s story and looks forward to continuing the relationship.

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water....Meet Aaliyah Christina

Meet Aaliyah Christina….Aaliyah is an artist who has lived in Chicago for 6.5 years. She first visited Sweet Water Foundation in June of 2018 and has been activating The Commons through dance and collaboration since then. Aaliyah has developed relationships with the SWF team and surrounding community. She worked alongside the core team to build dance floors and learn the principles of farming. SWF is excited to introduce Aaliyah as its first Human-in-Residence. Through this role, she will curate events, programs, and opportunities for artists to engage at The Commons.

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Courtney Hug
Dance @ The Commons

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, the Sweet Water Foundation team delivered four hexagonal dance floors to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago for an exhibit called Groundings. Throughout the exhibit, open from November 3, 2019 - May 12, 2019, artists of various mediums will explore the relationship between seen and unseen movement. The floors were built at The Commons via a collaboration between Sweet Water Foundation apprentices and mentors, Ozuzu Dancers, and Links Hall.

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Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Yasi Shaker

Meet Yasi Shaker...Yasi visited The Commons with a group of students from Kalamazoo College during the summer of 2018. Soon after, Yasi returned as Sweet Water Foundation’s 2018 Fall Fellow. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Yasi came to the United States go to school. As SWF’s Fall Fellow, Yasi has been helping the team build fractals, sharing her passion for environmental justice, and becoming immersed in the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development.

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Courtney Hug
Collaborative Innovation Networks

During the summer of 2018, SWF hosted Yash Kumbhat as its 2018 Summer Fellow. During his time at The Commons, Yash learned about the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development and how that practice might be implemented in other cities across the globe. Yash also shared his knowledge about solar energy in an effort to begin Lighting Up The Commons. When he returned to school, Yash brought the skills he gained at Sweet Water Foundation back to Harvard University and to the City of Boston.

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Courtney Hug
Detroit-Chicago Design Collaboration

What are public spaces? And, how can they be creatively and intentionally transformed into gathering spaces that are productive, safe, and welcoming for all? Since 2014, SWF has reclaimed and transformed 4 contiguous city blocks on Chicago’s South side. The Perry Avenue Commons (The Commons) has become a demonstration site with an emphasis on community.  Now, others across the country are looking to SWF as a model of Regenerative Neighborhood Development, and seeking SWF’s counsel as they work to transform public spaces across the country.

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Yash Kumbhat

Meet Yash Kumbhat….Yash came to The Commons as an intern during the summer of 2018. Originally from Kolkata, India, he is now a sophomore at Harvard College. During his summer at SWF, Yash helped with various tasks such as leading tours, learning architecture and design projects with other interns, and learning farming techniques from SWF apprentices. He also helped SWF begin lighting up The Commons with solar energy. Now, Yash is back in Boston, spreading SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development across the city.

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Courtney Hug
EXPO CHICAGO @ The Commons

On Tuesday, September 25, Sweet Water Foundation hosted the For Freedoms Town Hall, gathering more than 50 people from EXPO CHICAGO in the Thought Barn for an evening of conversation on the topic of Art and Public Space. The Town Hall, organized in collaboration with the Smart Museum of Art, welcomed a panel of speakers from March for Our Lives and AfriCOBRA who discussed strategies for integrating art into the reclamation of public space. The evening’s dialogue was enhanced by the surrounding environment given SWF’s focus on integrating art into each space at The Commons.

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Courtney Hug
Breakout Chicago @ The Commons

On September 22, 2018 a group of 175 people attending Breakout Chicago visited the Perry Avenue Commons for a neighborhood celebration with activities, performances, food, and connections. Breakout is a nationwide organization whose mission is to champion change makers, with a focus on those who make changes from within communities. The Commons provided the perfect place to gather a national audience of change makers to witness and celebrate the transformations taking place at The Commons and across the country.

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Courtney Hug
Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Keith Denson

Meet Keith Denson...Keith joined the Sweet Water Foundation (SWF) family in summer 2018 as a Crew Member and Apprentice. He was born and raised in Chicago, and discovered Sweet Water Foundation through his son’s grandmother. Since joining SWF, Keith has pitched in and helped out in every way he can at The Commons. He is always willing, open, and excited to engage in conversation and learn more about others.

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Courtney Hug
Lighting Up the Commons

Throughout the summer, the SWF team performed a series of experiments with solar panels installed on the Smart Pod and on test kits around The Commons to better understand solar energy. The knowledge gained from those experiments is being translated to solar projects across The Commons.

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Courtney Hug