Community members gathered to talk gentrification and transportation at the 10/4 El Paseo Panel &
On October 4 th , APA-IL’s Diversity Committee hosted “Bike-Ped Trails and Affordability: El Paseo Panel & Garden Tour.” This panel and walking tour, which started at Lacuna Lofts and concluded at El Paseo Community Garden, was a frank conversation about El Paseo, a proposed four-mile multipurpose trail that would connect Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. The panel was moderated by John-Jairo Betancur, professor at UIC’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. The panelists represented diverse perspectives and included Nelson Chueng, AICP, Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Veronica Gonzalez from the affordable housing developer The Resurrection Project, and Byron Sigcho, The Pilsen Alliance. The conversation made frequent comparisons to The 606 bike-pedestrian trail, which has been associated with gentrification and steep increases in housing prices, with panelists commenting on housing policy, environmental contamination, and the community’s right to amenities.
Streetsblog Chicago was on hand to cover the panel discussion and Lynda Lopez authored a blog entry regarding the event. There has been some online discussion regarding the development of the El Paseo since it's publication.
Following the panel, attendees walked across the street to El Paseo Community Garden, which is located along a portion of the proposed bike-ped trail. The garden’s directors, Paula and Antonio Acevedo, led the tour. Located on a former brownfield site, El Paseo Garden offers raised beds to community members, hosts an urban prairie and a beautiful mural, and programs diverse social events and wellness activities. The garden also has a unique owner / management arrangement with the non-profit urban land trust NeighborSpace. At the garden, attendees continued the conversation, discussing matters such as the cultural significance of Chicago’s local murals, and the tendency for developers to promote community-based initiatives as amenities for higher priced new housing.
APA-IL Diversity Committee's mission is to actively promote and increase diversity within the planning profession and provide effective leadership in advocacy of inclusiveness in planning policies and regulations reflective of a diverse geographic and population within Illinois.
Interested in getting involved? Contact the APA-IL Diversity Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
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(photos courtesy of Marcella Bondie Keenan)