Activists Spar With Alderman Willie Cochran Over Woodlawn's Healing Village

Mike Krauser
August 02, 2018 - 1:33 pm
Healing Village Woodlawn

WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Activists and artists behind what they’re calling the Healing Village in the Woodlawn neighborhood are upset that the alderman who permitted the project now wants it removed.  

The space was created on a city-owned vacant lot at 63rd and Greenwood, just south of the University of Chicago campus.  

There are flowers and candles and a couple of small, plywood buildings where people can talk in private. 

Nortasha Stingley goes there to think about her daughter, who was killed. 

“This lot really brings me peace. The butterflies are flying around. The butterflies  remind me of my daughter.” 

She and others at the lot said people need a place like that.   

Healing Village Woodlawn
WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser

Alderman Willie Cochran, they said, gave the okay for the Healing Village to remain in place from July to October. 

It was the idea of a student at the School of the Art Institute.  

Cochran told WBBM they don’t have insurance, they don’t have community support and, contrary to the insistence that he approved the project, he said it doesn’t have his support. 

He said the city is taking proposals for the land.   

The activists say he misunderstood the idea behind the project, thinking it was going to be visual art, and when he visited, he didn’t like it.  

Cochran said everything they say is a lie.  

Activist Damon Williams, of the Let Us Breathe Collective, said the argument that the activists need to go because the city is taking proposals for the land is a “straw man’s argument.” 

He said “this is not a permanent occupation. This is not disrupting any type of construction but to say people cannot use open space for what they need is added insult.” 

There could be a confrontation if the city comes to remove the buildings and other things erected at the site.