Pride in community diversity was in full bloom this past Saturday at downtown West Chicago’s signature spring event, Blooming Fest. City of West Chicago staff planned an activity which invited the community’s younger residents to create flowers made of paper which were assembled and “planted” in a symbolic community garden.
This activity was designed to underscore the focus of the One West Chicago initiative, a priority of the West Chicago Strategic Plan, to celebrate diversity, to establish long-term relationships through engagement efforts and to encourage broader participation in community leadership.
Participants were asked to visit and interact with staff from the City of West Chicago, West Chicago Public Library, West Chicago Park District, West Chicago City Museum, West Chicago School District 33 and Healthy West Chicago. These organizations provide vital services that benefit the well-being of the community and improve the quality of life for all West Chicago residents.
By engaging with younger residents, City staff hoped to instill a greater sense of pride in their community and to celebrate the diverse views expressed. City staff challenged the participants to reflect on the things they valued, and generally how they felt about West Chicago. To some it was a lot easier than others, but ultimately most were able to express themselves. The outcome was a wonderful garden of ideas that exemplify the uniqueness and beauty that is West Chicago.
According to Adrian Marquez, the City’s Community Outreach Specialist, more One West Chicago activities are being planned for this year’s remaining special events, including the Halloween Parade and Downtown Trick-or-Treat, and Frosty Fest. Plus, Marquez is working on the creation of a Local Government Academy for young Latinos which will start in the fall. The Academy will introduce participants to the working functions of the City and explore some of the issues affecting residents. The purpose is to promote civic leadership and participation amongst West Chicago Latino youth. “I am excited to start building a strong foundation with the future leaders of our community”, he said.
One West Chicago is a call to action to broaden participation in community leadership, invest in long-term relationships, and form partnerships with all members of the West Chicago community to reinforce that there is one unified West Chicago, made stronger by its diversity. For more information or questions, contact Adrian Marquez at firstname.lastname@example.org.