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Building Community with Food

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  • COST

    Free and open to the public

  • TYPE

    Professional Development



This is a sponsored event by Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

Myra Kraft Open Classroom, Spring 2021: Inspiring Design


  • Larry Kearns, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, Wheeler Kearns Architects
  • Brenda Palms Barber, Founder/President & CEO, North Landale Employment Network and CEO, Sweet Beginnings, LLC
  • Chris Bosso, Professor of Public Policy and Associate Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Like many cities, Chicago’s existing food supply chain is long and fragile, with a massive carbon footprint. In 2019, Wheeler Kearns Architects (WKA) floated a proposal to establish Chicago’s first Food Innovation District on the West Side, building on neighborhood assets like Inspiration Kitchens—Garfield Park (2013 RBA Gold Medalist). Other investments include the Hatchery, a food business incubator, and Sweet Beginnings, a social enterprise sustained by honey harvested at six apiaries located throughout the City. Join WKA Principal Larry Kearns and North Landale Employment Network/Sweet Beginnings’ CEO Brenda Palms Barber for a discussion about how growing, preparing, and processing food creates jobs, improves public health, and revitalizes neighborhoods, ensuring that every dollar Chicagoans spend on food benefits local communities while decreasing the City’s carbon footprint.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand and describe how investment in urban food systems can address community welfare and affect economic, environmental, and social change.
  • Discuss the value of engaging in collaborative partnerships in the planning, design, and development of inclusive, community-based projects.
  • Identify and describe examples of food-focused initiatives that increase access to healthy food, create jobs, and revitalize neighborhoods.
  • Describe the components of a Food Innovation District using case studies and reference materials.