In July of 2019, the Chicago Mayor’s Office, in conjunction with the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), launched a pilot program called Grounds for Peace. The program’s goal was to beautify 50 vacant City-owned lots in North Lawndale, Woodlawn, and Englewood and was a partnership between the City of Chicago, Urban Growers Collective, and Heartland Alliance.
Inspired by successful programs in other cities with high rates of gun violence and large concentrations of vacant property, Grounds for Peace empowered community members to reclaim spaces that have contributed to violence. The Mayor’s Office designed this program as part of a comprehensive approach to reducing community violence resulting from environmental and design factors that influence safety. The Mayor’s Office partnered with DPD and the University of Chicago to identify the highest impact city-owned vacant lots using crime data.