Renewing Old Space: Uniting America in Waukegan
One of last summer’s big storms claimed a very old and big tree in the courtyard of the First Baptist Church in Waukegan. But they didn’t let this get them down too long; they now want to turn this unused space into a park that will be designed by the community for the community.
To do this staff at the church really want the community’s help and input. In order to get this they have held several types of meeting, of which I have had the pleasure of attending. The first one was a discussion about the community of Waukegan and what people thought about Waukegan. The second one was to talk about planning the park specifically and about the grant that they are aiming to get. The third meeting was last week, and it really wasn’t so much of a meeting as it was a party.
I pulled up to the back of the church and parked my car when I got out I could already tell that the party had started. I could hear the sounds of a drum circle coming from the front of the church. I walked around to the front and couldn’t have seen a better site. People of all ages were sitting in a circle playing various instruments. This was a great way to draw in neighbors; kids and their parents from all over the block were coming over to see what was going on. We then lit up the fire pit and got out all of the fixings to make s’mores. I had the pleasure of handing out marshmallows to the kids. For many of them it was their first time ever even hearing of s’mores, I was happy to be the one to teach them how good marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers can taste together.
I really admire what First Baptist is doing. They are reaching out to local residents so that they can be involved in the planning and implementation of this park in a meaningful way. And they are doing it in a simple way, all it took was some drums and marshmallows and they were able to draw a crowd upwards of 40 people. It just shows me that with some vision a community can come together in a positive way to make real change.