A vision for green space: The Gordon Parks Initiative


Sometimes, a champion is needed to make things happen.  Such as a two million dollar property acquisition and redevelopment of two vacant lots behind Gordon Parks High School.

Paul Creager, the Curriculum Coordinator for Gordon Parks High School (at Griggs and University), is one of those champions.  Taking the idea from former Gordon Parks students, he is advocating for the support of the school district, community, city, and developers to make the Gordon Parks vision come true.

And yes, that number is correct- the asking price for just over two acres of land in the Midway super-block just north of  Interstate 94 is $2 million.  However, the project designed by Creager and two U of M grad students from Students Design for Activism far outweighs any cost of that land, as they envision space for outdoor classrooms, garden spaces, a soccer field, walking path, and more.

The bonus: it’s not just for Gordon Parks.  Skyline Tower, a 500-unit apartment building and the largest single-building subsidized housing complex in the U.S. west of Chicago, was early identified as a beneficiary of the project.  Located less than a block away from the proposed development, residents have already identified their need for more green space for the 200 children in the building and walking space for the elders.  The Teen Leadership Group, working with UPDC intern Jessie Lieb this summer, created a video of support for the project talking about green space the Skyline Community needs and how it would benefit them.  Residents would look out of their 15-story apartment window and see trees instead of asphalt, pick goods from the gardens to make their family’s dinners, and have space for snow forts and rolling snow men in the winter.

The project was presented to the UPDC Board of Directors at the August meeting.  The next steps: find funding.  There is a huge coffer to fill to just start their work. Any ideas?  Contact Paul Creager at paul.creager@spps.org