Moving America Forward

A Chicago Neighborhood Revived Its Soul by Buying Vacant Lots

January 9, 2020
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A Chicago Neighborhood Revived Its Soul by Buying Vacant Lots
One woman couldn’t bear to give up on Englewood, so she restored it.

Asiaha, her husband and daughter were set to leave their Chicago neighborhood, Englewood, to live in a suburb. But she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t just leave the kids playing in dirt and broken glass in empty lots. She couldn’t be one more person to give up on the neighborhood where she grew up.

According to an analysis of the FBI’s 2018 uniform crime reports, Englewood’s violent crime rate is about two and a half times higher than the national average, and property crime was nearly eight times higher, according to estimated data. Vacant lots are everywhere. The Chicago Sun Times reported that the neighborhood had the second highest number of property demolitions in the city, with very few permits to rebuild. An eye-opening 2011 report in the Chicago Tribune noted that the many vacant, boarded-up homes you see in Englewood have “kept [the neighborhood] in [a] downward spiral.”

Asiaha only knew how to lead by putting her love for her community first, and that made all the difference in getting her community to believe in Englewood again.


This article was published in partnership with Weave: The Social Fabric Project of the Aspen Institute. Weave supports people who live in a way that puts relationships and community first. These “Weavers” lead with love and defy a culture of hyper-individualism that has left Americans feeling more lonely, distrustful and divided than ever. See their stories and learn more here.

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