Breakout Chicago @ The Commons

On September 22, 2018 a group of 175 people attending Breakout Chicago visited the Perry Avenue Commons (The 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. Read on to learn more about the energy-filled day.

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Breakout History

Since 2014, Breakout has been gathering change-makers, such as artists, writers, and activists, in cities across the United States for “unconferences” to highlight some of the transformational work being done across the nation. In September, Breakout gathered people from over 20 cities in Chicago to visit some of the places that are transforming the city and challenging the negative narrative that is too often shared in the news. SWF is located at the nexus of Englewood and Washington Park, two communities on Chicago’s South side that have experienced disinvestment and marginalization, yet are rich in life and culture. SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development is life-changing and life-giving, and reaches thousands of people locally, nationally, and internationally. The Commons was the perfect space to host Breakout Chicago’s Saturday Block Party.

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Energy @ The Commons

The Commons was activated with people and activities - from the Thought Barn, to the family-friendly craft area, to the walls inside the Think-Do House, and across the Community Garden - sharing knowledge, networking, and celebrating.

Performances by Storycatchers, Project Tool, DJ Selah Say were held in the Thought Barn. Kids and families used their imaginations and expressed their creativity in the craft and game area, which included a printing-making station, coloring, and games. Local residents and Breakout attendees played basketball, and the Think-Do House hosted smaller breakout sessions.

An afternoon at The Commons would not be complete without food. Mama Betty, SWF’s Resident Chef, prepared her infamous greens and cornbread, Nando’s Chicken brought their famous Portuguese, flame-fired chicken, Morningstar Farms provided veggie burgers and nachos, and Girl Scouts of America and Lifeway Kefir brought desserts. Attendees spread across The Commons to eat and network.

As the group loaded back on to the busses and returned to their cities, they were inspired and rejuvenated to continue the critical work of transforming cities.

Courtney Hug