6 Neighborhoods in Chicago for Getting Involved
Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean your neighbors have to be strangers. The 77 distinct neighborhoods in Chicago engender fierce resident pride. From street festivals and block parties to community gardens and active neighborhood associations, there are plenty of ways for people to get involved. Check out these six neighborhoods and their community engagement options.
Beverly and Morgan Park are two close-knit South Side neighborhoods. The Beverly Area Planning Association is dedicated to supporting both neighborhoods through community programs and events. The organization releases a monthly newspaper, The Villager, covering people, businesses, and events in the communities. Some of the organization’s annual events include the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home Tour and the Bikes and Brews cycling race. The home tour opens the doors to homes located in the communities’ Ridge Historic District, while the bike ride gets residents racing to the finish line for a cold beer.
In addition to events put on by the neighborhood association, the two neighborhoods are leaders in throwing block parties every summer. According to WBEZ, Beverly had one of the highest number of block party permits issued in 2016.
Ald. Matthew O’Shea (19th Ward) told WBEZ:
“Beverly, Morgan Park, and Mount Greenwood are very close-knit communities, and have been for generations. On certain blocks, neighbors know each other, their kids grew up together. People retire in my community and they stay in their house, and they have long-standing relations with their neighbors.”
Every summer the North Side neighborhood of Edgewater brings people together at EdgeFest, a weekend neighborhood festival. The festival hosts food and beer tents up and down Broadway Street from Thorndale Avenue to Ardmore Avenue, and the proceeds go to support the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce.
Anyone interested in the history of the neighborhood can join events put on by the Edgewater Historical Society, including the Chicago History Book Club. The society also encourages residents to pitch in when it comes to researching and preserving the history of the neighborhood.
Edgewater is also home to the Senn Unity Garden. The 22-plot garden, tended to by volunteers, is a part of the Chicago Park District Community Gardens in the Parks program. Edgewater is also a great place to catch the park district’s Movies in the Park program.
Jefferson Park, situated on the northwest side of the city, has an active neighborhood association. The Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association hosts semi-annual plant sales, a summertime farmers market, and helped start the organization that would become the Northwest Chicago Historical Society.
During summer, the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce puts on Jeff Fest, an arts and music festival that runs for a weekend. The festival takes place in Jefferson Park, not far from the CTA Blue Line. The park also hosts other events, like live music, throughout the summer.
Logan Square is home to the LoganSquarist, a hyper-local news organization, which does a lot to support community engagement. The organization hosts meet-ups around the neighborhood and organizes trash pick-up events.
The Logan Square Neighborhood Association runs a ton of different programs designed to support and improve the entire community. One of the association’s well-known initiatives is the Parent Mentor Program, which puts parent volunteers in the classroom.
There are also plenty of fun events happening in the neighborhood where you can give back to the community, get to know your neighbors, or volunteer: The neighborhood hosts a popular farmers market on Sundays from May to October, the Logan Square Arts Fesitival in June, the Logan Square Food Truck Social in August, and Logan Square Preservation’s Home and Garden Walk in September.
The West Side neighborhood of Pilsen has two organizations that promote community engagement: The Pilsen Alliance and Pilsen Neighbors Community Council. The Pilsen Alliance is committed to neighborhood initiatives involving affordable housing, education, community health, and government accountability. The Pilsen Neighbors Community Council is a nonprofit that fosters community leadership.
The neighborhood throws Pilsen Fest, one of the hottest parties around, every summer. The neighborhood festival has a music line-up, art displays, food, and activities for kids. Plus, the festival gives neighborhood residents the opportunity to volunteer for a few hours.