Equiticity, Englewood Arts Collective Lead Community Walk Promoting Effort To Reopen Racine Green Stop – Streetsblog Chicago

This post is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance. https://momentumcoffee.org/

Last Sunday, October 15th, the mobility justice nonprofit Equiticity and the Englewood Arts Collective led the Fall Fest Community Walk, which highlighted efforts to reopen Englewood’s shuttered Racine Green Line station at 63rd Street and Racine Avenue (1200 W.) The event also gave participants a change to to check out the Go Green on Racine Community Fresh Market grocery store, 1207 W. 63rd St.

The half-mile stroll went from the Englewood Commercial Hub,1122 W. 63rd 4,000-square-foot retail store to the Englewood BreakRoom PopCourt plaza, at 63rd and Justine. Other stops on the tour included Momentum Coffee, EG Woode entrepreneurial platform, and Marie | Wesley boutique and consignment shop.

“Welcome, welcome,” said Rami Nashashibi, greeting the walkers. “I know you are on your way. Yeah. You are at the home of the Go green community fresh market.  This is an effort that really kind of, in many ways, speaks to how powerful collective community action looks like.  You know, in some very real ways.  We’ve always talked about this as a result of almost 15 to 20 years of a campaign led by initially the Inner city Muslim Action Network (IMAN) when we were trying to confront that type of reality, you see that food and liquor spot.”

The Fresh Market is part of a larger “Go Green on Racine” campaign by IMAN, R.A.G.E., and Teamwork Englewood to improve transit and opportunity access on the Southside of Chicago. The store doesn’t call it community engagement and safety security, nor does it have bulletproof glass. As Nashashibi explained, there here to make customers feel safe, but there also there to help carry groceries out to people’s cars or help people find what they need.

“We pop the myth that people don’t want these things in the neighborhoods like Englewood.  That used to be the myth right?  You can fight this. People don’t want this. Grandmother’s walk up in the store to see you know with their children, they just sometimes just supply a small bag of groceries but more importantly just to connect with one another and be in a safe, beautiful space,” said Nashashibi.

Besides the Fresh Market, a goal of the Go Green Development Group was to turn a closed public school, Granville T. Woods Academy, into a resource center that would help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter into society. The latter of which is being done by Beehyyve, which the Fall Fest walking tour visited at 1122 W 63rd street, a building that consists of not one, but four Black-owned businesses.

“Go Green on Racine was our vision,” said Sana Syed, director of strategic initiatives at IMAN. “It was a [holistic] neighborhood revitalization plan and was our vision to bring more light and energy into that intersection and then see that benefit the entire 63rd street commercial corridor and, more broadly, have catalytic effects across Englewood.”

Poster promoting efforts to reopen the Racine Green Line station. Image: Cameron Bolton

Of course, the key part of Go Green on Racine was the reopening of previously closed Greenline stations. Back in 1995, the line was closed for restorations, but a couple of stops in black and brown neighborhoods were never reopened. One of the stops is going to be located directly behind the Fresh Market. If it were to be reopened, that would allow for all kinds of community improvements.

“We pushed to put it on the ballot last year on the in the 16th.  Ward got 94% to the site, you know, vote on it.  And then we got $2 million appropriated for study, we pushed it at the federal level.  And even with all that pushing, we’re still gonna have to push to get it open, but once it opens, that’s gonna be like an $80 million stop,” said Nashashibi, who continued:

“And again, the vision is that that becomes a destination stop that that station becomes a station that celebrates the history of what he would kind of meant for communities as an intersection.  This neighborhood, this this street, as you know the history of 63rd. Going back to the 50s and 60s, literally sociology will tell you outside of the central business district i.e. downtown, it was the most commercially active business of the country in terms of transportation and economics, right.”

Those on the Fall Fest walking tour were able to go upstairs, above the market where they had meeting rooms for community meetings. In the back, the walkers were able to see the station for themselves whileNashashibi talked a little bit more about what the vision for the stop would be. They would turn it into gallery space or some kind of exhibit while the nearby brick building would then be the station. 

“So we have the space to really radically reimagine with different housing opportunities with different development and businesses so that this particular intersection can be really a thriving hub by and that this space along with all the other spaces that we’re making, just kind of really connect everything that’s happening in in across Englewood.  So that’s, that’s part of that larger vision.  And, you know, this is, this is very possible, but it’s going to continue to take a lot of organizing,” said Nashashibi.

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