In contrast to the abundance of farmlands, forests, rolling hills and wetlands that make up the Prairie State, only 7 percent of our city is considered “green space.”

In Little Village, a neighborhood that has some of the worst air quality in the state, there’s far less. This South Lawndale enclave is 1 percent green space.

While a lack of recreational area or vegetation may not appear critical compared to other challenges communities face, the existence of green space is vital to a community’s health and safety. That’s why the Little Village Neighborhood Network, a coalition of residents, schools, social service organizations and other community stakeholders supported by United Way, is working to create more in partnership with its residents.

“When there is more green space in a community, residents are more likely to be outside, living happy and healthy lives,” said Jennifer Idrovo, director of the Network.

To develop a plan to grow green spaces, the Network hosted two neighborhood tours to educate residents about existing green and blue spaces in the community and gather their feedback on what additional spaces they’d like to see.

On the blue tour, the residents explored an underutilized boat launch off the Chicago River, and, on the green tour, they biked to community gardens and recreational spaces to learn about their construction and importance to their neighbors.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Network’s green space initiative!

Video by Courtney Morrison

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