CHICAGO — A handful of vacant lots on Chicago’s Southeast Side are in the process of being transformed into beautiful spaces.

This is a story about a community investing not just in each other but the landscape that makes up their neighborhood. 

Ghian Foreman is the CEO of Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative.

“In the nine neighborhoods from Bronzeville down to South Chicago, there are 260 acres of vacant land. That’s the same amount of land as Disneyland,” Foreman said. “There was a study that was done that showed when you improve vacant lots (there is a) significant decrease in violent crimes, significant increase in people’s sense of health and mental wellness.” 

It was an experiment Foreman was eager to try out in Chicago starting with this first lot in Woodlawn.

They call it Lots of Compassion.

Foreman hopes the first will be the impetus for others to change their own neighborhood landscape.

“This is the story of all of us coming together to make a significant difference and I think at the end of the day when we talk about compassion, a lot of people are concerned with what happens in this city,” Foreman said. “The difference is action and this is a story of action.”

Through supportive grants and some sweat equity by neighbors, the Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative hopes to continue transforming dozens more lots by the end of the year.