So, what’s this all about, anyway?
- One part neighborhood installations.
- One part potluck series. (coming soon)
- All parts community conversation.
Back in the Autumn of 2011, I received a grant from the Awesome Foundation Chicago to do a series of community potlucks and installations to ask with my neighbors “What is awesome about our neighborhood?” and “What is possible in our neighborhood?”
A resident for 2+ years, I have loved to see our little Damen corridor develop. Straddling the divide of the studio and warehouse lined Ravenswood corridor and shop and culture filled Lincoln Square, the area around the Damen brown line stop has managed to carve out a lovely niche of antiques, small gifts, Asian food, and other delightful treats. The faces are friendly, the shops down-to-earth––it is a truly local scene.
However, even so, for the past 16+months, when I walk to the train, I pass a handful of empty storefronts. And I always wonder what they were and what they could be. After a year and a half of getting to know the neighborhood, its faces, its patterns– I was compelled to do more. I couldn’t open that new neighborhood hotspot, but I could be a neighbor who catalyzed conversation.
Enter the Awesome Foundation Grant. Small grants. Hyper local. The goal? Do something awesome in and with your community.
Every day I walk by empty storefronts and I imagine. I can’t help it. Unused space, like a blank canvas, invites wonder. But unlike the single dimension of a canvas, space prompts community, interaction. But, that pesky “For Lease” sign and its anonymous phone number reminds you that, though you walk by something everyday…it isn’t yours. You can’t enter till it’s “Open for Business.” You have to wait till it’s cooked, finished, ready…
Yet, as a community, we are curious about unused spaces, ready for them to open to us. We want empty storefronts to be filled with a new nook, a place to peruse, a space to share again.
When I walk by these empty places, I moved to do two things:
1. Ask, “What if…”
2. Throw a dinner party. (I have this reaction to most stimuli.)
I think these are best done together. And, with neighbors.
The proposal is modest. Asking “What if?” together. Since this fall it has evolved to focus on an open dialogue to start, and then meals to share.
So - Watch this space. Send any questions, comments, and collaboration inquiries to Melanie at LeagueofAwesomePossibilities@gmail.com.