Week Six! Wow, we're halfway through the 12Parks in 12Weeks Tour. Thanks for riding with me. This week, I visited Wicker Park in the West Town Community Area of Chicago. What I saw was a neighborhood that's free from the Cultural Vanity that plagues many Chicago communities. People of all ethnicities were gathered together with a common human purpose: To Live.
Diversity of culture breeds diversity of thought, which has been proven in many port cities all across the world. Don't get me wrong, or do, I believe heritage has a bearing on who we are and what we think is important. But some people have an interest in preserving their community’s culture in purity, almost like an insect preserved in amber. This mindset limits and restricts our opportunities, possibilities, and world views to our immediate vicinity. The12Parks in 12Weeks Tour is about encouraging Chicagoans to explore beyond their communities. Immerse yourself in new cultures, new perspectives, and new ideas. Stop focusing on the magnitude of economic disparity between communities.
Enough of all the platitudes, I came to Wicker Park to play ball. The most rejection I got all day was from shooting on the double-rimmed hoops. These rims should be illegal. The ball had to be shot perfectly to go in, and dunking was abusive to my hands. The basketball court could also use a new irrigation system. The court was mostly free from water, but to get on the court, you had to jump over a pool of water. Everybody hustled hard to keep the ball from going into the water. It wasn’t just the ball—I also didn't want to get my Fire Red Jordan Melo M10 sneaks all muddy. I guess I'm a bit spoiled after playing last week at the Seward Park Basketball Courts in the Cabrini Green Projects.
Right on cue with environmental issues, Green Living took center-stage at the 6th annual Wicker Park Green Music Fest. This environmentally-conscious Chicago summer festival sets itself apart from others by mixing great bands with eco-minded vendors. They took Green to a whole new meaning with a 'petal-powered' stage. This green alternative is a powerful natural energy source provided by cyclists. Eight stationary bikes, plugged into a generator, were the energy source for all of the main stage's amps, guitars, spotlights and more. The faster people pedaled, the more energy they created for the music.
I took some time to pass out a few MBMHMC T-Shirts and talk about My Block, My Hood, My City. It's all about spreading the word and telling people to step outside of their comfort zones. Look beyond your community and experience different cultures, languages, perspectives, and ideas. Once we do this, we’ll no longer see ourselves as part of 77 different communities but part of one Chicago.
written by Jahmal Cole