“Little garden, big dreams.”
Do not let Jardincito´s name – little garden – fool you, because the garden community council has big plans for this green space. Located in Little Village, it is one of the few green spaces in this Southwest neighborhood.
Jardincito Nature Play Garden community member Sara Cortés says the community council aims to create a neighborhood-directed nature sanctuary where youth and adults alike can deepen their relationship with the natural world. As a result, the grant received from The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities has been invested wisely, used to support collaborations with the people who help shape the space and to sustain the garden´s activities.
One of Cortés´ favorite events was a movie night, where they played movies of one of the biggest Mexican movie icons, Mario Moreno “Cantinflas.” That movie night was such a success that the organization decided to buy the projector and screen, and to make plans to screen movies on a regular basis in the upcoming year.
“Little Village is a vibrant community that confronts the root causes of violence by creating alternatives for families and youth to engage with nature in an oasis and with community events that are culturally relevant and fun,” said Cortés.
The organization also was able to support a local arts collective in buying school supplies, which were given away for free as part of a large back-to-school celebration. A youth mariachi group harmonized the event.
This is Ivonne Natzaely Chavez´ second summer working at Jardincito as a Nature Play Guide. She teaches kids to use things from the garden such as rocks and twigs for fun and she teaches kids about plants. She recalls girls using twigs to spell words such as hope and love. “The kids appreciate the space,” says Chavez. “Even if I am not there, they stop by and walk through the little garden with their families.”
Chavez says she likes returning to the garden over the summers because she can see how the kids are growing up.
Jardincito also produces smaller events, such as art workshops, tree planting days and more. Cortés says the community council wants to see the community create deep connections with each other and the environment “We feel the garden does and will continue to create relationships that nurture healthy and joyous community dynamics.”
Raquel Venado is a writer with Rudd Resources.