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I can’t believe we are already halfway through the summer! Working in Woodlawn has been an awesome experience. The Woodlawn community is a vibrant neighborhood with a rich history. Being in the community has shown me how much innovation and energy is happening within the people and organizations that live and work here.

My favorite places that we have visited are The Experimental Station and Living Room Café; each organization exemplifies something I love about Woodlawn. The Living Room Café shows the history and perseverance of Woodlawn. The organization has grown and developed, adapting to challenges and changes in the neighborhood. By becoming a part of Inspiration Corporation in Chicago, they have been able to continue their mission while providing their members access to even greater opportunities.

The Experimental Station represents the innovation and growth within the Woodlawn community. Providing unique services, programs, and resource to the community, The Experimental Station, including Blackstone Bicycle Works and the 61st Street Farmers Market, has expanded what it means to live and grow up in Woodlawn. They are focused not just on addressing the needs of the community, but on enriching the lives of community members. The staff at The Experimental Station have a creative spirit that pushes them to try new ideas and continue to explore possibilities for the future.

As a member of Team Woodlawn and the SSP Program, I have gained a deeper knowledge and appreciation for myself, my team members, Chicago, and community health. I have especially enjoyed the opportunity to learn from the high school students and recent graduates about their experiences, future plans, and ideas for social change. Learning what is important to them has reminded me what is important in my own life, and helped me to think about how I can live more congruently with my values.

Finally, I have learned most about what it means to be a pillar: a community member who creates the space and opportunity for others’ ideas to flourish. I hope to not only be a pillar in Woodlawn and my own communities, but to be a pillar for Team Woodlawn as we work to implement our project. In this project, I hope to use my organizational and facilitation skills to help my teammates, especially the youngest members, develop and expand their ideas, and, ultimately, make Woodlawn walkable!