Gary Ecopolis Project

Gary Ecopolis Project

Gary Ecopolis Project is designed to engage community in discussion, education and action encouraging the transformation of Gary, Indiana into a “Regenerative City”

Gary | Started on 01/03/2018

The Gary Ecopolis Project, directed by Corey Hagelberg and The Calumet Artists Residency, in partnership with many organizations, is creating a vision for Gary as a regenerative city and working to bring it to reality.The project began with a theater production by playwright-in-residence Jeff Biggers and residents portraying Gary, Indiana as a regenerative city in 2030. Gary a rust belt city, in the shadow of an 8 mile long steel mill on Lake Michigan is also rich in biodiversity with the adjacent Indiana Dunes. Gary has lost half of its population, around 100,000 residents, since electing the first black mayor in the USA in 1968, has a 33% poverty rate and tens of thousands of abandoned buildings. A regenerative city (Ecopolis) is a city that limits waste through community cooperation and developing a robust circular economy by making and sourcing products locally.

The first theater work, “Ecopolis Southshore”, included setting benchmarks for local food, energy production, and local circular systems of production. It was performed at a local church with an urban garden, orchard and solar panels, and highlighted community heroes who are already working to solve problems. Since that time, we have worked to realize the vision of the project including: starting community gardens and food forests, co-creating educational materials to support this effort including a “Rethink Your Lawn Coloring Book”, “Fill Your Town with Fields of Sunflowers” zine and project. We have supported local environmental and youth campaigns and given away and planted over 1000 native fruit and nut trees, and held public foraging tours. Last year we co-produced a second theater production and created a local tour with many partners designed to help highlight local community farming efforts along with the history of resiliency, cooperation, and community self-reliance in the African American community during the time of Jim Crow segregation. The project is ongoing.

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