In 2016, with support from the Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust, CPSJ and its partners developed a unique civic engagement model to explore the intersection of health, energy and environmental inequity and public safety in the Chicago neighborhoods of North Lawndale and West Garfield Park. Over the course of 4 months, a small group of public safety stakeholders, local community leaders and residents – some with histories of criminal justice system involvement – convened monthly to participate in restorative justice circles, learn about the neighborhoods through community tours led by members of the Alumni Association of Cook County Jail, and to connect over shared meals. What resulted was a deeper understanding of the neighborhoods, their assets and challenges, and of one another. Learn more about the experience in CPSJ’s Building Blocks Report, replicate the model with the Building Blocks Toolkit and hear from North Lawndale and Garfield Park residents in the Free Spirit Media-produced video below.
The Building Blocks Experiment