A Perspective:

Open Space, Sustainability, and “Influence Upon Inner City Living”

My name is Richard Dobbins, Jr.; I’m president/CEO of “South Side Roots, Inc.” a landscape/horticulture service firm. We are passionate about horticulture and its contribution to “Creating Livable, Lovable Space.” We serve the Chicago urban community and its neighborhoods.

In 1997 I returned to Chicago, my native home, and place of birth. As I began to re-acquaint myself and explore the city, numerous changes caught my attention.

grant_park_chicago_illinois_estados_unidos_2012-10-20_dd_03Lake shore Dr. along the lake front from the loop to 67th Street south impressed me. Though I started to notice the area I knew growing up had been transformed into a more welcoming space. The construction of street median planters and community gardens throughout the city softened the vine of the old concrete jungle

I began to contrast what I was seeing with the memory of Chicago during my younger years. I started to ask questions, seeking clues from those living here during the “Green” transforming period. I listened to their response. Many seem to view this as a reclaiming of the city by and for affluent Whites and Hipsters. Some African Americans felt people of color were being relocated and displaced to outer limits of the city.

This transformation, a commitment to the “THE GREEN MOVEMENT” and efforts to bring Chicago into “GREEN” culture had the appearance of changing neighborhoods, as an intentional, orchestrated gentrification act.

Make no mistake the green evolution in the City of Chicago has had an awesome influence upon where we are today! The positive change has impacted how our city is viewed and possible new attractions to come. Numerous neighborhoods have benefited and Chicago’s global presence elevated.

“Open space and Sustainability concerns and issues are a larger expanse of the “Green Movement.” The new and changing economy before us and its associated economic parameters with “Living Green,” Open Space and Sustainability, must recognize these same variance amongst and within neighborhoods and its diverse citizenry.

Representation of our entire city, their communities, their voice, being heard and listened to, not just in random community meetings but also as active decision making participants who are on responsible boards, committees and organizations moving the movement forward here in Chicago.

Everyone of us must reach across the fence and begin genuinely speaking, sharing, inviting and coming along the side of one another. We must not come with entrenched positions but be open to the wealth of knowledge, experience, and insight amongst our diverse population. So many times smaller voices feel discounted and of little value. We must draw upon the wealth within each of us for an even better City of Chicago. We all must embrace change, between with “the person in the mirror” prepare for the tomorrow today.