A community-led effort is taking shape in Englewood in hopes of reshaping people’s perception of the culture, history, and modern reality of the neighborhood.
A billboard campaign featuring photos from local photographer Tonika Johnson, among others, is one such strategy. Billboards feature slogans like “I am Englewood” and “We Love Englewood” alongside images of a father pushing his child on a swing and a group of young men dressed up for prom.
As a part of the nine- to 12-month campaign, community organization Englewood Rising asked community members to submit photos, personal stories, and ideas.
“What really feels good is the fact they know that it’s people from the community, and they can recognize some of the places. It’s just nice,” Johnson told DNA info. “The sad truth is people from outside and people in the community, we don't see artistic-looking pictures of ourselves. To be able see it on a billboard and then to have it from someone in the community, it’s nice.”
The billboard campaign features five rotating photos every month and is just one portion of the Englewood Rising campaign. Organizers are also accepting locals’ stories to be featured on Facebook and Twitter. There are more plans in the works for the rest of the campaign.
On Friday May 12, the neighborhood unveiled its first neighborhood sign ever at 63rd and Yale Streets. The “Welcome to Englewood” sign was designed by a local artist and paid for by a $6,000 community grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago.
Alderman Raymond Lopez of the 15th ward said at the unveiling the neighborhood’s rebranding gives community members the opportunity to create their own narrative.