When I hear “38th and Chicago”, I think about waiting for the bus in the wintertime (the #5 to go to work, or the 23 to go back home); standing there, shivering in the wind, my guitar in its case colder than I am.
But for my friend Michelle, it’s all about CUP FOODS. When she was a little kid and got to go to the corner store on her own for the very first time, money jangling in her pocket so she could buy a snack. For her, that store is a Sacred Place.
Michelle and I met at Pillsbury House and Theater. I’ve worked out of that building for the last twelve years (had my first *real* paid acting gig there). Michelle’s lived in the neighborhood since she was a toddler, and started going to Pill House when she was 9. When we met, she was part of their youth programs. Now, she helps run them, and we teach together. We’re friends because of that building, those arts groups, and this neighborhood.
There are stories like ours, all along Chicago Avenue. Some of ‘em you know like the back of your hand; others, you pass by every day but don’t notice until someone points ‘em out (or chooses to tell you).
This winter, Michelle and I will go from 32nd to 38th, speaking with people who live, work, and go to school along the avenue, and we’ll be asking them to share their stories of What Grows Here; from kids to families, to businesses, to trees.
When it gets warm, we’ll invite people to join us as we take walks through the neighborhood, sharing the stories as we heard them. We might hear from folks you’d seen before but never met, or go into stores you’d always passed by, but never stopped into.
And hopefully, these memories and stories and questions will resonate (long after our walks are over, and the last of our posters is ripped down next winter), as you see a building, or look at a garden, or drive by that one block.
Because in the end, it’s stories like these that feed the spirit of a neighborhood.