Target: Mr. Michael Howard and Fuller Park community
Goal: Applaud Mr. Howard and his community for transforming an illegal dumpsite into a nature center
Many said that it couldn’t be done. It all started when Michael Howard, Executive Director of Fuller Park Community Development, realized that lead levels in his neighborhood were some of the highest in Chicago. He knew he had to take action, and decided to start right on his own block. Across the street from his house in the Fuller Park neighborhood lay three acres of an illegal dumpsite. Howard got the deed for the land and spent the next three years involving the community in a cleanup project of the site. It was said that the land was so toxic that it would be a miracle to get it clean, let alone to have anything grow on the land again. But today the former toxic wasteland has been transformed into Eden’s Place Nature Center, an urban oasis on the south side of Chicago. The nature center grows its own organic plants for a farmer’s market, provides a home to farm animals, works with local schools to involve youth, among other great feats. Thank Michael Howard and the residents of Fuller Park for putting in the effort to make local changes and provide a green area for people to enjoy in an urban environment.
Eden’s Place is a diamond in the rough, a vibrant and colorful space in an area that was once just as vibrant. Over the course of time, Fuller Park had taken a turn for the worse. The low-income neighborhood had become riddled with crime and gang activity. These circumstances make it difficult for local youth. Eden’s Place gives kids a healthy outlet to socialize with others, grow, and learn valuable skills they can apply to real life. Local schools implement volunteer days at the nature center into the curriculum, and many students become inspired to stick around for longer. In addition to growing fruits, vegetables and herbs year-round, Eden’s Place offers classes in farming, composting and local history. Community members have converted an abandoned school bus into a solar powered, rainbow painted hangout spot for their volunteers.
The nature center provides a place for residents to connect with nature, which can be difficult to find in a big city. Eden’s Place is an example of how a community coming together can make changes in the most adverse of circumstances, and can be an inspiration to other cities in need of green spaces.
Dear Mr. Michael Howard and community members of Fuller Park,
Converting the massive illegal dumpsite in your community must have seemed like an impossible task to take on. After the initiative of Mr. Howard, it was the volunteers and community members who put in the time and the elbow grease to transform a waste pile into a nature center for the whole community to enjoy.
Eden’s Place offers youth a safe and hospitable environment to spend their extracurricular time. In an area that has been plagued with crime and gang violence, this is extremely important. Eden’s Place contributes to the biodiversity of the area with its organic farm and animals. It has a positive impact on the environment, educates youth and offers an exemplary green area in the heart of the city. Thank you for all of your efforts despite being told that you would never succeed. The story of Eden’s Place will inspire places like this in urban areas around the world.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Creative Commons