CHICAGO — A sea of floral beauty has attracted people to a South side neighbor where a local artist and economic developer teamed up with the community by using nature to symbolize and bring light to injustice.
Residence in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood were blown away by the beauty blooming in their vacant lots. Thousands of tulips are uniting people and shedding light on one of the roots responsible for a lock of wealth and significant deterioration in many communities of color.
Ghian Foreman, the economic developer involved in the project, has helped bloom these tulips on three and a half acres of vacant land at the corner of East 53rd Street and South Prairie Avenue near Washington Park on Chicago’s South side.
And the tulip garden has quickly attracted a fan base.
When the tulip bulbs were planted last fall, the goal was more than simply adding a vibrate pop of color and beauty to lots left empty. But, digging deeper by working with a local artist to symbolically look at redlining, a form of discrimination that Ghian calls one of the root causes leading to this vacant land.
According to the Redefining Redlining Project, the tulips symbolize the value of the homes that used to be here, but more importantly the worth of the people here now and the beautiful black neighborhoods that can exist.
Ghian said the tulip filled lots are apart of the more than 260 acres of vacant land across the Southeast side. He hopes their beauty continues to foster pride and gets residents thinking about the possibility of owning and developing the land.
One reason organizers decided to use tulips is because during the 1600’s there was a period called “Tulip Mania” in Holland where some tulips were so valuable, they cost more than housing.
The tulips in Washington Park will likely live about another week, but they’re expected to bloom again next year.