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Pilsen Leaders Gather to Hear ECCo's Findings

Casa Michoacan was a popular place to be on the morning of March 16th. It was the day that ECCo presented its environmental inventory of the Pilsen neighborhood, the fourth of its community ethnographies for the Chicago Department of Environment. Dozens of local leaders gathered to hear what ECCo's Urban Anthropology Team had learned. Those in attendance hailed from landscaping companies, social service agencies, Latino businesses, and immigrant rights coalitions. All of them were there to learn more about the ways that people in this prominent Latino neighborhood are relating to the environment, and to hear about opportunities for connecting their own work to local environmental initiatives.

The gathering was hosted by Jose Luis Gutierez of Casa Michoacan, Troy Peters of Chicago’s Department of the Environment, as well as Dr. Rosa Carera of ECCo’s Urban Anthropology Team. Rosa presented The Field Museum’s findings, reporting back many of the vast social and environmental assets in the area, including practices like recycling valuable materials, growing produce, and fixing things rather than buying new replacements. Troy shared the ways that Pilsen fits into the larger Chicago Climate Action Plan, and Jose Luis expressed his excitement to continue supporting neighborhood initiatives that address the crucial issue of climate change and its local impacts.

Moving forward, Casa Michoacan will help to lead a project that transforms a nearby vacant lot into a site for young children to experience nature, and for families to learn about pressing environmental concerns. This project, which also includes two other Pilsen non-profit organizations, grows directly from the section in ECCo's report that recommends providing "support for existing programs to turn unused public spaces into community gardens, playgrounds, spaces for art performances, and private gardens."