A Family's Community: Wicker Park Bucktown

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Julie Horowitz Jackson happily calls Bucktown her home now for fifteen years. Virtu, 2034 North Damen Ave, celebrated 11 years in business earlier this year. Her husband owns Color Wheel Studio, another Bucktown business, and their son attends Pulaski International School of Chicago, one of Bucktown’s four neighborhood CPS schools. Go goat or go home!

Now that I've got two blog posts under my belt, I find myself being asked "Why do you do it?" The blog posts?

That's easy. Because I've lived and worked in this neighborhood for so long that I've found tons of stuff about Bucktown and Wicker Park to share with my customers.

For me, I think the question goes deeper than all of that. It speaks to the warmth and generosity of this community in which my husband and I have each chosen to open up shop and raise our son.

image courtesy of Color Wheel Art Studio

The best part of my week is Monday, my one day off. Back in the day, I used take my son on a long walk through our streets hitting as many parks as we could before he crashed. There's Ehrler Park on Cortland that's great for kids of the smaller scale. In it, you'll find a sand box, wee swings, and a tiny train to play in, hence the park became known to us as "train park". 

Just down the street from the train park sits Pulaski International School of Chicago.

It used to be called Pulaksi Fine Arts Academy, but over the past few years, it has blossomed through community involvement to house one of the city's IB (International Baccalaureate) programs. Here, the focus is on developing balanced, lifelong learners who will grow into compassionate global citizens. 

As an open invitation to all of the businesses of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of Pulaski welcome you to join them at a business meet and greet on Tuesday, April 24th at 9:30 am.

The hour long tour will start out in the auditorium of the main building and move on throughout the school. As a business owner interested in investing deeply in my own community, I welcome you to join me, I will certainly be there. RSVPs are requested at info@friendsofpulaski.org.

On the other side of Bucktown is Walsh Park on Marshfield between Wabansia and Cortland.

Open, airy and room enough to run, we called this "school park" as it is across from Burr Elementary, where our son went to pre-school. Burr is a wonderful magnet cluster program featuring world language as their specialty. It's a great group of kids who have the opportunity to learn, of all things, Japanese, even at the Pre-K level. Incidentally, Burr is hosting their Gala this weekend. You can bid online for lots of goodies from some of our neighborhood greats like Club Lucky, Virtu, Color Wheel Studio, Building Blocks Toys, and the The T-Shirt Deli.

Half way in between is the Drummond play lot.

It quick, it's convenient, you can bounce a ball around all while getting to see the community garden created by the kids at Drummond Montessori. From what I understand, one of the LSC Community members offers a lot of TLC to the raised beds of the blacktop. Speaking of the LSC, it stands for Local School Council. Elections happen to be today, April 18th. You can walk into any of your neighborhood schools and vote as a community member. Remember, it takes a village to raise that child.

Our favorite park in the 'hood happens to be Wicker Park.

So many of us are familiar with the fountain, the playing field, the fact that it houses some serious awesomeness like the Wicker Park Farmer's Market, the Green Music Fest, Movies in the Park, etc. My son and I know and love it, though, for the bears. The bears? Yes, the bear fountain where kids of small stature can stand underneath their playful spray any time after Memorial Day. We are waiting for the fountains to be turned on at "Bear Park".

At Wicker Park you will be amazed by the sheer number of kids that come through after school from A.N. Pritzker School. Pritzker houses the local gifted program. Keep an eye out come May, as you will see Pritzer's 4th Annual Community Arts Project entitled "Playthings" hosted by many of our local neighborhood businesses.

So, why the long chat about our local schools? Because it is important to so many of us, business owners and families, alike, that we each invest in our community on both sides of the dialog.

So often, I am asked by a PTO to give something to their upcoming event. The next time a parent walks in your door with a letter asking for your help, I urge you to consider donating to one of the many schools within our community. There's always a benefit that needs bruschetta, a team in search of jerseys, even a classroom that ran out of simple construction paper. So many resources have been cut from our curricula that there are opportunities for each of us, all throughout the year. Help out one of those schools, and I guarantee the kids will love you for it. The giant pile of hand drawn thank you notes will totally melt your heart.

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