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Equiticity, Englewood Arts Collective lead community walk promoting effort to reopen Racine Green stop

Participants were also able to check out the Go Green on Racine Community Fresh Market as part of the Fall Fest Community Walk.

Rami Nashashibi with Janell Nelson of Englewood Arts Collective at the start of the walk. Photo: Cameron Bolton


This post is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance. https://momentumcoffee.org/

Last Sunday, October 15th, the mobility justice nonprofit Equiticity and the Englewood Arts Collective led the Fall Fest Community Walk, which highlighted efforts to reopen Englewood's shuttered Racine Green Line station at 63rd Street and Racine Avenue (1200 W.) The event also gave participants a change to to check out the Go Green on Racine Community Fresh Market grocery store, 1207 W. 63rd St.

The half-mile stroll went from the Englewood Commercial Hub,1122 W. 63rd 4,000-square-foot retail store to the Englewood BreakRoom PopCourt plaza, at 63rd and Justine. Other stops on the tour included Momentum Coffee, EG Woode entrepreneurial platform, and Marie | Wesley boutique and consignment shop.

Attendees walk down 63rd Street. Photo: Cameron Bolton

“Welcome, welcome," said Rami Nashashibi, a Palestinian-American activist who has been involved in a number of efforts to improve the welfare of residents of the South Side, to the attendees. "You are at the home of the Go Green Community Fresh Market. This is an effort that really kind of, in many ways, speaks to how powerful collective community action looks like... We've always talked about this as a result of almost 15 to 20 years of a campaign led by initially the Inner city Muslim Action Network when we were trying to confront that type of reality, you see that food and liquor spot."

The Fresh Market is part of the larger Go Green on Racine campaign by IMAN, Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.), and Teamwork Englewood to improve transit and opportunity access. "We pop the myth that people don't want these things in neighborhoods like Englewood," Nashashibi said. "Grandmother's walk up in the store with their children... they just sometimes just supply a small bag of groceries. But more importantly just to connect with one another and be in a safe, beautiful space."

A Green Line train passes by the old Racine stop. Photo: Cameron Bolton

Besides the Fresh Market, a goal of the Go Green Development Group was to turn a closed public school, Granville T. Woods Academy, into a resource center that would help formerly incarcerated people reenter society. The latter of which is being done by Beehyyve, 1122 W. 63rd street, a building that consists of not one, but four Black-owned businesses.

"Go Green on Racine was our vision," said Sana Syed, director of strategic initiatives at IMAN. "It was a [holistic] neighborhood revitalization plan and was our vision to bring more light and energy into that intersection and then see that benefit the entire 63rd street commercial corridor and, more broadly, have catalytic effects across Englewood.”

Poster promoting efforts to reopen the Racine Green Line station. Image: Cameron Bolton

The key part of Go Green on Racine is the campaign for reopening of the Racine Green Line station. Back in 1993, the line was closed for restoration, but a couple of stops in Black neighborhoods were never reopened.

“We pushed to put [the Racine station] on the ballot last year on the in the 16th [Ward]," said Nashashibi. He said 94 percent of voters supported the plans. "And then we got $2 million appropriated for study, we pushed it at the federal level.  And even with all that pushing, we're still gonna have to push to get it open, but once it opens, that's gonna be like an $80 million stop."

“And again, the vision is that that becomes a destination stop... that celebrates [neighborhood] history," Nashashibi said. "Going back to the 50s and 60s, [this neighborhood] was the most commercially active business of the country in terms of transportation and economics."

Porch on the upper level of the Community Fresh Market, with a perfect view of the Racine Green Line station. Photo: Cameron Bolton

Those on the Fall Fest walking tour were able to go upstairs, above the market where they had meeting rooms for community meetings. On the back porch the walkers could see the Racine Green Line station for themselves, Nashashibi said the planners would turn the station space partly converted into gallery space or some kind of exhibit. 

“So we have the space to really radically reimagine with different housing opportunities with different development and businesses so that this particular intersection can be really a thriving hub," Nashashibi said. "This is very possible, but it's going to continue to take a lot of organizing."

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