Root Riot Harambee Dedicaton Event

New Sign

The Root-Riot Harambee dedication was a celebration of the newest community garden in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. The theme of the ceremony was to honor and showcase the young men and women in this community responsible in large part for the success of Harambee garden. Harambee gardeners and guests provided refreshments; the students and guests provided entertainment.

Community spirit and support was evident in the well attended event. In addition to community residents, our guests and attendees included friends, family, politicians, ministers, Douglass Academy faculty and staff, local school council representatives, an Austin Branch librarian, members of Root Riot Oak Park and other community gardens, faculty of Dominican University, and others.

Media coverage included ABC 7 News, The Austin Voice, and Austin Weekly. A crew from Conscious TV filmed the event and interviewed Root-Riot cofounders Amy Beltemacchi and Seamus Ford and others.

The program began with drum selections by students Michelle Keaton and Joron Sanders. Student DeAndre Robinson gave the welcoming remarks. Alderman Deborah Graham was the emcee. We heard spoken word poetry by “Mama” Brenda Matthews and Anthony T. Raggs.  An Afro centric libation ceremony, with drum accompaniment, was performed by Ms. Sheree Blakemore of Youth Guidance. Student Cletina Smith sang a solo. One of the highlights of the program was the “peace gathering” in which the entire congregation formed a circle; each person in the circle expressed a thought on what the garden or community meant to them. The program portion of the dedication ended with closing remarks from Amy Beltemacchi and a visibly moved Seamus Ford.

The dedication ceremony included posting our first message on the message board donated by Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins. Commissioner Collins, who attended the dedication ceremony, also donated the flowers in the parkway garden. The students unveiled their newest signs, designed by student DeAngelo Mills. Librarian Joanne Grant, of the Austin Branch Library, displayed a totem pole decorated by Douglass Academy students.

Also, on display as part of the students’ micro-enterprise endeavor, were cold frames. The students are building and accepting orders for cold frames. Root Riot t-shirts are also available for purchase; the colors are kelly green or earth-tone.

6 thoughts on “Root Riot Harambee Dedicaton Event

  1. I attended this great event and made new friends. We are sharing recipes to use the fresh produce! Loved the day and the event.

    Can you please share a bit more about cold frames? I have no idea what they are, how they are made, what their purpose is. Thanks!

    • Monica,
      “a cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure, built low to the ground, used to protect plants from cold weather” One of the cofounders referenced Wikipedia in his description. The youth are actually building them using recycled materials. I believe more information will be fortcoming soon on this blog.

  2. Enjoyed the dedication event. Maybe the next time I go to the garden with you something will be ready for harvesting!

  3. These are only my thoughts,please do not take this the wrong way,i was not please with the how the program went. Thought it was to be about ROOT-RIOT AND THE COMMIUNTY AND THE STUDENTS COMING TOGETHER AND MEMBERS THAT ARE APART OF THE GROUP.IT LOOK LIKE IT WAS DOUGLASS SCHOOL CELBRATION,AGAIN ONLY MY THOUGHTS,I HAVE GOTTEN SOME FEED BACK ABOUT THE PROGRAM,THEY DID NOT LIKE SOME THINGS THAT HAPPEN.SOME OF US HAVE WORKED HARD, AND INVEST OUR TIME TO OUR COMMUNITY TO SEE A CHANGE.I FEEL VERY DISREPECTED.GOD BLESS YOU ALL.MS JONES

  4. Hi Beverly Sorrell next time you come you can have some of my greens,that are coming back soon,we have eaten thiem three times already,i check today they are coming back,when they do i will have some for you ok,Ms Jones

  5. The dedication on Sunday was very meaningful, and hope-filled in the midst of a very tough reality that several participants spoke about. Looking back at the last few months, I feel like a miracle has happened! In April, it was just a little more than an idea, in May it was a vacant lot, then in June the beginnings of the garden started to appear, in July we started seeing significant green stuff start to appear, and now we have vegetables and flowers – and most importantly, a community that has a new vision of what is possible! As with most miracles, it is one that had a lot of hard work and skill behind it! Thank you to all the people that played a part in that — to those that came to meetings, helped to clear the lot, built the frames for the plots, made contacts in the community to build both moral and practical support, helped to spread wood chips, planted flowers and vegetables, helped to educate those of us that are new to gardening, and so much more!

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