Oct 6th 2020

Video | Emmanuel Pratt on Sweet Water Foundation and Community-Driven Design

On Wednesday, September 2 at 5 p.m., the co-founder of the Sweet Water foundation and MacArthur Fellow gave a virtual lecture on community-driven design.

Founded in 2009, Sweet Water integrates design, education, and agriculture into a community-driven approach to community development in areas of Chicago that have suffered from disinvestment. Through the years, Sweet Water has transformed abandoned buildings and lots in South Side neighborhoods into spaces for community gardens, as well as spaces for education and mentorship programs.

Most notably, the Sweet Water team and community has designed and built a dynamic site known as The Commonwealth, which now spans four contiguous city blocks. The Commonwealth includes approximately three acres of urban farms, a large community garden, five vacant parcels transformed into a park used for weekly Farmers Markets, two formerly foreclosed homes transformed into community and educational spaces (Think-Do House and [Re]Construction House), a greenhouse converted into a woodshop, a shipping container converted into a learning laboratory and greenhouse, and a timber frame pavilion that serves as an outdoor performing arts and community space known as the Thought Barn.

Pratt’s lecture focuses Sweet Water’s work in Chicago and how its grassroots design ethos in neglected neighborhoods has provided meaningful opportunities for their residents.