Meet Rebecca and the North River Commission

Becky organizing volunteers on Cesar Chavez Day

I lived in Albany Park for five years and still work in Albany Park for a non-profit community organization, North River Commission (NRC), housed at Lawrence and Kimball. Over the 10 years I have lived/worked here, Albany Park has experienced many changes. I’ve enjoyed the hustle and bustle of this vibrant neighborhood, but I’ve also seen so many of my neighbors move when rental buildings turned into condos. I’ve seen storefronts and lots sit vacant year after year.

One such lot was at the corner of Lawrence and Sacramento, two blocks from my apartment.

Day after day, I walked past the lot on the way to the park with my kids, so I was delighted when I had the opportunity to help plan a community green space for the land when the City of Chicago purchased it in 2010. I imagined a place that was full of life, a place that reflected the people in the neighborhood; performances would be held, beautiful plants would grow, sculpture would be appreciated, community ties would be strengthened.

I have been fortunate to see even more than what I imagined spring up almost overnight (no pun intended…well, I guess intended) in that once empty lot.

I am also fortunate that part of my work at NRC supports Global Garden, a refugee training farm and community garden.

I imagined performances: sure enough, gardeners share their talents with their neighbors on a DIY stage.

I imagined public art: Global has fabric fence art and sculptures, and the wonderful Buddha heads from the Ten Thousand Ripples project by artist Indira Johnson.

Buddha head

I imagined beautiful plants: over 400 people grow organic food from their home countries as well as heirloom vegetables.

I imagined a strong sense of ownership and community: new friendships have been formed, civic groups have been revitalized, and neighbors help each other.

We’re helping each other do great things, and you can help, too. Even if you don’t garden, don’t live in the area, and don’t even know us, you can help everyone at Global Gardens by supporting our Kickstarter campaign.

I can’t wait to see the garden in full bloom this year, with bees from the new bee hives helping to pollinate the vegetables and volunteers taking care of a new seed saving garden. This is even more than I imagined.

Visit our Kickstarter page here: