On Friday, September 18 Syda S. Taylor, Director of Programs & Community Engagement, hosted the Adler University Bronzeville Community Plunge. Below is her account of the event:
According to Camille Williamson, Director of Community Engagement at Adler University, “the purpose of the Community Plunge is to expose Adler participants (mostly students) to communities that they may not be familiar with and to help break down perceptions of safety in certain neighborhoods. In addition, this experience will focus on the Adler tenet of diversity with respect to understanding disproportionate disparities in Chicago communities; thereby creating the need for the commitment and support of our Community Partners to ameliorate social problems in low income communities. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to learn about the importance of exploring a community as a tool of socially responsible practice.”
The Community Plunge began with a presentation in the PE office, where Adler staff and students enjoyed catered dinner from the local café Ain’t She Sweet and learned about PE’s mission, the youth we serve, and the history of Bronzeville (neighborhood home of PE’s office).
For the second part of the evening, we took our guests on a trolley tour as a part of the Bronzeville Summer Nights event held every third Friday during summer months hosted by Quad Communities Development Corporation. The trolley is designed to take residents and visitors to see local businesses and art galleries in the area. Although the rain was strong that evening, we toured 43rd and 47th streets, and down King Drive and Cottage Grove, in addition to many side streets while seeing community gems. The trolley docent told stories and shared the richness of the African American arts and culture born and nurtured in Bronzeville. It was a wonderful experience for everyone. Some memorable moments include tasting the free pumpkin latté from Sip-N-Savor while listening to spoken word artists, dancing to a reggae band at Ain’t She Sweet while having dessert and free sample wraps, and talking to artist activists about their work at various galleries.
Project Exploration is honored to make connections like these amongst all of its partners. This is the second year PE has been selected to host interns for six months from the Adler School of Psychology, Social Justice Practicum as a part of the Department of Community Engagement. Many people that have never been to Bronzeville might hear about all the shootings on the news and failing schools and decide to avoid this neighborhood at all cost. Our goal with this evening was to help break those thought patterns and expose the larger community to the beauty that is within Bronzeville and the community we serve.