The library named after President Obama will be built in the Jackson Park neighborhood of Chicago. It is expected to bring with it some changes to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Real estate developers are already circling to buy up land to resell or build on. In response, a number of Chicago organizations have joined forces to form a new nonprofit focused on the economic development of Woodlawn, Washington Park, and other nearby neighborhoods.
There is a decent amount of vacant land held by the city and private owners in those neighborhoods which could come up for grabs very soon. But rather than let this turn into a capitalist feeding frenzy, the new (still unnamed) nonprofit will bring together a board of about 20 people to help ensure that changes benefit the whole region.
Among the coalition is the Obama Foundation, University of Chicago, the City of Chicago, South Shore Works, Washington Park Consortium, and the Network of Woodlawn. While each of those organizations is expected to have a member on the board, the rest will come from community members. The nonprofit was started by Reverends Torrey Barrett and Byron Brazier.
There is a great deal of experience behind this new organization so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get things going. The group has already started forming before the library project even starts.
Nonprofits dedicated to the economic growth or strength of local communities are all too often only conceptualized after those communities start to suffer problems. By getting the group started now, it’s board can help direct any new development so that it benefits and employs people in the communities that will come to host Obama’s library. Such forward thinking is in line with the former president’s beliefs on urban development. It is a good fit for library, and its likely made Obama extremely proud.