Cabrini-Green is a housing project that is made of 10 buildings built up over 20 years. Originally, the residents of this area were Italian. Over time, however, more whites moved out and all residents were blacks. By the 70’s, whites were completely moved out. What is unique about this project is that the area is backed against two of the wealthiest areas in Chicago. This was in hopes to keep gang violence down in other areas.
Growing up, my mom would tell me stories of Cabrini-Green. She would walk over to the area to teach a few of the girls living there how to play jump rope. She would tell us how she learned how to braid and do hair when hanging out with the girls who lived in that area. I came to realized my mom was part of a mentoring program called Big Brother Big Sister.
Although there are many projects that have worked in Chicago, Cabrini-Greens’ problems have been the most publicized. The schools were in poor condition. The city had promised to build a new school for the area, but this promised had never been carried out. A fifth grade class petitioned to the city, using the reality that their school did not have an auditorium, a cafeteria or a gym. In 2008, this hit national news. Now the children are being transferred to other schools in the district, while their school has been left vacant. The area has been desired by local building companies and the projects are being cleared out.
This area reminds me that sometimes, good ideas with good intentions may not work. I drive past this area twice a day and am reminded to keep trying for better. Better life for others. Better society, better culture, better government… for others… even when good ideas fail.