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New Wave of Riverfront Projects Funded by The Chicago Community Trust

The new Major Taylor Trail Mural was completed under the 2017-2018 CCT Our Great Rivers grant.
Photo credit: Forest Preserves of Cook County

In 2018, MPC tracked and wrote about the progress of and inaugural 10 riverfront projects funded by The Chicago Community Trust’s Our Great Rivers grant.

We are pleased to share that The Trust has announced the next round of community-led projects to be funded through the grant. In 2019, 11 projects will be funded, 4 of which are new to the cohort.

The funded projects continue to demonstrate creative and unique approaches to river activation and highlight a hunger for cultural inclusion along the riverfronts.

As with the first round, the funded projects span planning and programming, demonstrate alignment with the Inviting, Living and Productive pillars of the Our Great Rivers vision, and address the Trust’s focus areas of sustainable development, arts and culture, public health and economic development.

In the coming year, MPC will continue to convene project leaders and their partners to build upon the existing cohort of river activators to share best practices, support local initiatives and advocate for improved environmental quality and opportunities for recreation. See below for a brief description of the funded projects, and visit the links to read full blog posts as we post them. 

New Projects

Alivio Medical Center in partnership with the El Paseo Community Garden, The Resurrection Project, and Pilsen Alliance, among others, will establish an advisory group to make physical and programmatic connections between existing, complementary community assets such as the El Paseo Community Garden, the forthcoming El Paseo Trail, and the river.

Current Innovation NFP, in partnership with North River Commission, South Loop Chamber of Commerce, and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, among others, will install in-stream technology at three locations in the Chicago River that monitor water quality data in real-time and transmit that data to user-friendly digital platforms for use by multiple audiences.

Friends of the Parks, in partnership Chicago Park District, Villa Guadalupe, SkyArt, and the Cultural Committee of Calumet Park, among others, will begin community engagement on the planned closure of a confined disposal facility at the mouth of the Calumet River and work with the local Park Advisory Council on physical and programmatic linkages between underutilized parks near the mouth of the Calumet River and the river.

Openlands, in partnership with People for Community Recovery, Miracle Marina, Golden Gate Homeowners Association, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Commonwealth Edison, and the National Park Service, will build awareness of and capacity for an African American Heritage Water Trail to showcase the role of the Little Calumet River in African American history, including the Great Migration and Underground Railroad.

Returning Projects

See updates about all of the returning projects here

Chicago Public Art Group in partnership with the American Indian Center and the Portage Park Neighborhood Association will continue to develop the Northwest Portage Walking Museum. The “outdoor museum” concept will feature art installations and gardens along 9.5 miles of a former Native American trail that once connected the Chicago and Des Plaines rivers.

Heartland Housing, in partnership with The Chicago Housing Authority, Friends of the Chicago River, and Lathrop Community Partners, will continue to build a community ownership strategy for the riverfront portion of the Lathrop Homes redevelopment.

The Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, in partnership with the Ping Tom Park Advisory Council, REI, and Kelly High School, among others, will complete a wayfinding program for park visitors and mural installation activities along the 18th Street Bridge.

The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, in partnership with the Southeast Environmental Task Force and Natural Resources Defense Council, will continue to explore the public health implications of Chicago waterways through analyses of industrial sites along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Calumet River, and to shape policy that attracts sustainable economic and recreational uses to riverfront communities.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County will work with the newly created Community Advisory Committee, co-chaired by The Chicago Housing Authority and Metropolitan Planning Council, to connect residents of Altgeld Gardens with nearby assets including Beaubien Woods Forest Preserve, Flatfoot Lake, and the Little Calumet River.

Community & Neighborhood Improvement Project, in partnership with Friends of the Major Taylor Trail, Active Transportation Alliance, Forest Preserves of Cook County, and Terra Engineering, for their ongoing efforts to make environmental and aesthetic improvements to the Major Taylor Trail near the Little Calumet River.

Alliance for the Great Lakes in partnership with the Claretian Associates, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Delta Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, and NeighborSpace, among others, will advance the river-related objectives of Calumet Connect, a new coalition to revitalize riverfront areas in southeast side communities. Stay tuned throughout 2019 for progress updates on these exciting projects!