Like much of the south side, Back of the Yards has been heavily impacted by the events of the past week. The commercial corridors of Ashland and 47th have been looted up and down, with most of the retail shops having been physically impacted in some way. All have been emotionally impacted. Most unfortunately, as of this writing violence has left 2 people dead in the neighborhood. It’s a deadly reminder that we’re dealing with more than just the pandemic of COVID, but also the pandemic of racism. The symptoms of both are violent.
I have no doubt that the community will come together to help rebuild, but many are rattled and are unsure of what is to come. Rebuilding infrastructure is probably the easy part. Rebuilding a sense of safety will be harder. Of course, this can probably be said for every neighborhood in the city. There is no easy way to say how to recover from this except to lean into work with our neighbors, residents, and businesses alike.
It’s critical to remember that despite all of the violence, both physical and emotional, there is so much good that is still taking place. Neighbors are helping neighbors. Organizations that have historically not collaborated are coming together to help those in need. And more Americans than ever are actively speaking out about the injustices we have tolerated for so long.
Plant Chicago will continue to offer our Link match food program on Saturday’s, doubling the value of local produce for Link card holders. Working with local farmers, we intend to make sure that they can still make money while healthy produce makes it to families in need. Especially for our neighbors in every corner of Back of the Yards. It’s a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, but it’s what we are positioned to be able to do.
The horror of violence against infrastructure pales in comparison to the horror of violence against other human beings. Especially when that violence comes from those that are supposed to protect us. Especially when that violence is directed at individuals because of the color of their skin. Especially when it is directed at our neighbors.
Black lives matter. The fact that we have to say it is in itself horrific, but we must continue to say it as long as individuals and our systems continue to devalue black lives.
A local circular economy is a collaborative practice that is empowered through transparency, diversity, and inclusion. We can never hope to be able to transition to a circular economy if we continue to oppress people because of the color of their skin. Plant Chicago’s vision for the world is for a “paradigm shift in production, consumption, and waste driven at the local level, generating equity and economic opportunity for all residents.” Collectively we need to make sure we are keeping the latter half of that vision statement at the front of our minds as we collaborate to rebuild infrastructure, trust, and community.
I cannot tell anybody what they should be doing. How you choose to help is up to you, based on your ability to give your time, your money, and the effort you put in to find a meaningful way to help where you can. Below is a start.
Jonathan Pereira Executive Director
In the same way that you have felt compelled to support our mission in the past, we encourage you to learn more about how you can show your support for the following local organizations who are doing the work necessary to affect change in their communities:
Back of the Yards Peace and Education Coalition
Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression
SOUL – Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation
We will update this list of resources as more information becomes available.