2023 was a landmark year for Southside Blooms, marking not just growth but a flowering of possibilities and potential. This year, our organization, a proud project of Chicago Eco House, witnessed an astounding 150 percent growth, a testament to our commitment to using floristry as an anchor industry in the inner city.
Through our partnerships with local schools and community centers, we provided floral design workshops and employment opportunities, empowering at-risk youth to develop valuable skills and pursue careers in the floral industry.
This transformative year solidified our position as a catalyst for change and economic empowerment in the South Side of Chicago.
The Origins of Chicago Eco House
The story of Chicago Eco House began with the Blackwells’ unwavering love for their neighborhood, a love so profound that they took pies in the face to raise funds for their 501c3 application. Despite challenges in securing property in Englewood, they persevered, investing their own money to buy and rehabilitate a vacant greystone, which later became the headquarters for Chicago Eco House. This marked the beginning of a mission to harness sustainability as a means to combat poverty.
Empowering Youth: Building a Brighter Future
At the heart of our mission is the empowerment of at-risk youth in inner-city Chicago. This year, we reached a significant milestone by hiring 35 young individuals for part-time and full-time roles. Each bouquet sold has directly contributed to providing these young people with not just jobs but skills and hope for a better future.
Through our program, these at-risk youth have been able to gain valuable work experience and develop important life skills. By investing in their potential and providing them with opportunities, we are not only helping them build a brighter future for themselves but also breaking the cycle of poverty in their communities.
Our commitment to sustainability goes hand in hand with our commitment to empowering these young individuals, as we believe that by teaching them about eco-friendly practices, we are equipping them with the tools to create a more sustainable and prosperous future for themselves and their communities.
Education: Planting Seeds of Knowledge
Our environmental education programs have been a beacon of light, touching the lives of over 440 youth. These programs, both online and in person, have been instrumental in introducing sustainable urban agriculture and floristry as viable career paths, directly challenging the cycle of poverty and unemployment.
By providing hands-on experiences and mentorship opportunities, we are nurturing their passion for environmental conservation and inspiring them to become future leaders in sustainability. Through our programs, these young individuals not only gain valuable knowledge about eco-friendly practices but also develop essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork that will benefit them in all aspects of life.
Urban Transformation: Expanding Our Green Footprint
The opening of our new farm in Pilsen is a testament to our commitment to transforming urban landscapes. These community farms, spread over 5 acres across Woodlawn, Englewood, Pilsen, West Garfield Park, and Cook County Jail, with partner farms in Gary, Indiana, are not just agricultural spaces. They are symbols of hope and resilience, operating solar-powered and pesticide-free, embodying our vision for a sustainable urban future.
Innovating Floristry: Winter Tulips and More
In addition to being symbols of hope and resilience, our urban farms also serve as innovative spaces for floristry. Since 2023, we have been able to grow winter tulips, which has not only provided consistent employment opportunities but has also allowed us to bring joy through flowers all year long. This expansion in our offerings has further solidified our commitment to a sustainable urban future.
Milestones: Celebrating Success and Recognition
Our journey saw an incredible highlight with the biggest wedding event in our history at the Field Museum’s Great Hall. Additionally, our acclaim at the Fleurs de Villes flower show, where we won second place, spotlighted our creative prowess on an international stage.
These achievements have solidified our reputation as a leading florist in the industry and have opened doors to new partnerships and collaborations. As we continue to push boundaries and explore new floral designs, we are excited for the future and the opportunities it holds for us to further showcase our passion for floristry.
Sustainability in Action: Chicago Eco House Goes Solar
Thanks to the Honnold Foundation and Sunrun, the Chicago Eco House installation of solar panels marks a significant step towards our environmental sustainability goals. This aligns seamlessly with our broader mission of championing regenerative farming and reducing our ecological footprint.
By harnessing the power of solar energy, we are not only reducing our carbon emissions but also inspiring others in our community to adopt sustainable practices. We believe that through these initiatives, we can create a greener and more environmentally conscious future for all.
Southside Blooms: Cultivating Change, One Bloom at a Time.
As we look back at 2023, Southside Blooms stands as a beacon of social impact, economic development, and environmental stewardship. Our blooms are more than just flowers; they are symbols of a commitment to a brighter, more sustainable future. Every petal purchased is a step towards empowering communities, transforming lives, and nurturing the environment.
By supporting Southside Blooms, customers are not only beautifying their spaces with vibrant blooms but also actively contributing to the positive change happening in our communities. With each purchase, we are able to reinvest in local initiatives, create job opportunities, and continue our efforts towards a greener and more resilient ecosystem.
Together, we can make a lasting difference and inspire others to join us on this journey towards a better world.
Thank you for being part of this transformative journey. Together, let’s continue to grow and make a difference.