Biking Across Chicago: My Summer Journey Across All 77 Chicago Communities

My experience from teaching and living in black and brown communities for several years now is that we (meaning white, educated people) tend to overlook a lot of the great stuff happening in these communities to focus on the bad. We are also kind of shitty about navigating and finding comfort in black- and brown-dominated spaces. That’s part of why my goal for this summer is to explore all 77 Chicago community areas this summer on bike.

I live in East Garfield Park (majority black and low-income), and just about the only thing outsiders know about my neighborhood is that it’s violent. But having lived here nearly two years, I know great work happens every day to change lives at Breakthrough Urban Ministries, the best brunch in the city is at Inspiration Kitchens and there is no place I would rather be in the heart of winter than Garfield Park Conservatory.

I was born and raised in Chicago, but while I know the ins and outs of Wicker Park, Andersonville, West Loop and other white-dominated spaces, I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about Roseland, Engelwood or Back of the Yards beyond what I’ve read in the news. I want to change that.

I have some thoughts about places to check out all over the city, but I NEED your ideas. Please suggest some under-the-radar restaurants, coffee shops, events, bars and attractions you love, particularly ones in black and brown communities that maybe I just don’t know about because I am in my white, educated bubble.

I’ll update this map of Chicago every couple days to keep track of where I’ve been and how close I am to reaching my goal. Thanks in advance for your suggestions, everyone!

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