LVEJO has a long and successful history in fighting for environmental health and safety, and instead invited us to support their campaign to secure community space in a neighborhood that shows signs of gentrifying. In 2018 we began evaluating a historic firehouse for potential reuse as a community food hub, sustainability job training and event space. The first step in that process was to document the work necessary to re-open this beautiful, shuttered building to serve the broader community. This project awaits the top-down political support required to transfer ownership of a public building to a non-profit. In the meantime, LVEJO applied our work to date to gain the support of the Pritzger-Traubert Foundation, which selected this project as a finalist for the Chicago Prize in December 2019. They recognized the outstanding impact that formalizing immigrant-entrepreneurs’ small businesses with sustainable food and waste streams could have on the future of Chicago.
We continue to collectively pursue LVEJO’s vision of obtaining ownership of this building to open it to the community as a hub for sustainable food businesses. LVEJO is a deeply embedded in their neighborhood as community-organizers, so we add participatory design activities into their ongoing outreach, and from that develop the documentation necessary to secure the building and support fundraising efforts to make this ongoing design project a brick-and-mortar reality.