Belonging is a collaboration between Chicago Park District’s Young Cultural Stewards and Englewood-based artist and activist Tonika Johnson. The initiative will engage 6,000 youth across 100 Chicago parks to create art and answer critical questions around belonging, acceptance, and interconnection across their hyper-segregated city.

This partnership will involve collaboration across four Chicago Park District youth programs. ArtSeed will engage over 2,000 youth in 50 parks and playgrounds through storytelling, movement, music and art making. Youth will participate in a digital game of telephone across the city asking and answering questions about belonging through multimedia production. Inferno Mobile Recording will visit an additional 50 parks and engage 2,500 youth who will build on the idea of a digital telephone game with audio production - exchanging audio postcards  and beat-making tracks across the parks. YCS Fellows will operate three summer camps in Rogers Park,  Little Village, and Chatham. 45 youth ages 12-15 who will participate in weekly field trips explore each other’s neighborhoods through the four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. TRACE (Teens Re-Imagine Art, Community, and Environment) activate parks in Englewood and Austin working with 25 youth ages 14-22. These young people will travel to all 15 of the Chicago Park District’s Cultural Centers where they will conduct interviews, collect oral histories, document via photography and video, and curate an exhibition exploring these narratives.

All four programs will culminate in an exhibition and block party at the Englewood Line on Friday, August 2nd. The celebration will feature youth generated audio, video, multimedia, and visual art displayed alongside Johnson's photography and documentary films. The culminating exhibition will also feature a mural designed by TRACE youth in Englewood as well as a Belonging Block Party co-hosted by Grow Greater Englewood which is stewarding the development of the Englewood Line and Elevated Trail Project.

Photos courtesy of Irina Zadov.