In the heart of one of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods, between two gang territories, is one corner of tranquility at 64th and Honore.
The organization I-Grow Chicago bought a house on this corner of West Englewood in hopes of helping to reduce stress levels for its neighbors.
The block outside the home is closed for five hours, four days a week. Kids who attend get a light breakfast and then practice street yoga.
“Englewood has some amazing resources in the people who live here. But the fact is there are some really awful things that happen here. There’s no way around that,” said Robbin Carroll who started the organization.
The organization has to go door-to-door to get approval to run their program without any trouble. The hope is to get onlookers excited about the program and will eventually reduce violence.
I-Grow knows to do this, male participants are a key focus.
Shango Johnson is the youth male coordinator at I-Grow and also patrols this area for Cease Fire.
“It’s taught them a lot about dealing with their anger,” he says.
A systemic cycle of anger that he says is borne out of stress and lack of opportunity.
Johnson says there are ex-gang members now participating.
In terms of actually stemming the bloodshed, there’s no quick fix. And a community beaten down by bad news is cautious.
As soon as I-Grow has permits from the city construction will start on the home. That project will employ people in the neighborhood.
Eventually the house will serve as a life center where there will be yoga and Sunday meals all year round.