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
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