North Lawndale Whirligigs

In 2021, the GROWSS committee of NLCCC received a Neighborhood Access Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to bring together eight of the community gardens that have shipping containers on their sites. The North Lawndale Whirligig project was born. Whirligigs are sophisticated weather vanes, which not only indicate wind direction and speed, but also help each garden tell the story of its caretakers and present in a fun and creative way the mission that drives them. 

NL Whirligigs: A Look Into Each Garden

3555 W Ogden Ave, Chicago, IL 60623

FARM ON OGDEN is a multi-use facility that supports and sustains a healthy urban community by bringing food, health, and jobs together in one location.

Adinkra Symbol:
"sack of cola nuts" 
symbol of affluence, power, abundance, plenty, togetherness and unity

3844 W 16th St, Chicago, IL 60623

HOMAN GROWN is a social enterprise focused on propagating urban durable perennials, and on creating regenerative edible and ornamental landscapes.

Adinkra Symbol:


"when you climb a good tree" 

symbol of support, cooperation and encouragement

Douglas Blvd. & Central Park Ave.

LOVE BLOOMS HERE is a social enterprise offering multiple pathways to empowering the community and building resilient food systems on Chicago’s West side.

Adinkra Symbol:


"spider's web"

symbol of wisdom, creativity and the complexities of life

3732 W. 16th St., Chicago, IL 60623

The MLK District Garden is a permaculture designed space that incorporates production gardens, fruit orchards, and small farm animal management. 

Adinkra Symbol:
"wisdom knot"
symbol of wisdom, ingenuity, intelligence and patience

1322 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60623

PermaPark is a unique public art-space that is based on the principles of organic architecture and permaculture.

Adinkra Symbol:
"He who does not know can know from learning"
symbol of knowledge, life-long education and continued quest for knowledge

 1581 S. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, IL 60623

Spaulding Memorial Garden is one of Gardeneers’ North Lawndale school gardens, a sunny, buzzing green space designed to give students in food insecure communities equal access to healthy fruits and vegetables.  

Adinkra Symbol:
symbol of love, safety and security


3618 W. Douglas Blvd., Chicago, IL 60623

The Stone Temple Peace Heritage Garden is a community gathering and educational space.  All produce grown is offered at no cost to people from North Lawndale. 

Adinkra Symbol:
"tree of god" – altar
symbol of God's presence and protection 

 YMEN Bike Box 

Southwest Corner of 13th Street and Pulaski Road

YMEN BIKE BOX is a bike shop in partnership with the youth development organization Young Men’s Educational Network. They provide bike repair alongside sales and rentals of refurbished used bikes, at little or no cost to residents.

Adinkra Symbol:
"except for God"

symbol of the supremacy of God 

Whirligig Designing: From Concept to Construction

  Our first meetings were filled with design sketches and drawings as each garden listed out some of the visual elements they felt were important to their whirligig designs.   


After our initial drawings were finalized we moved on to making miniature paper and wooden models to get a sense of what they'd look like in the world. Check out some of the models we constructed!


Whirligig Designing: Wooden Prototype Models

We laser cut all of our whirligig prototypes out of wood and were able to share one with each of the eight participating gardens! Pictured below are the whirligig models for YMEN, Love Blooms Here and MLK District Garden.

YMEN Whirligig

Love Blooms Here Whirligig

MLK District Garden Whirligig

Whirligig Designing: In The City & The Studio

One of our project managers, Odile Compagnon, was able to insert the whirligig designs into a digital computer program to see what our models would look like in actual places throughout the city. Here she inserted the MLK District Garden whirligig into the garden space at The Art Institute of Chicago!

Here is a sneak peak of the metal platform that our contractors, Erik Newmann and Matt Binns are building for us! The pieces are all coming together and we'll soon be painting them to add pops of color.

NL Whirligig Booklet

After many months of design workshops, meetings with our garden liaisons and contractors along with site visits, we celebrated all of the completed Whirligigs last weekend on October 15th & 16th during Open House Chicago. If you didn't get a chance to view our booklet, take a look here:

Whirligig Celebration: Thank You

Our Whirligig Team would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who was involved in making this project a success in North Lawndale! Thank you to everyone who stopped by our table during the Open House Chicago weekend, it was so nice seeing all of you and seeing the joy on everyone's faces who after seeing the completed whirligigs!

Whirligig table with miniature whirligig models from each of the garden sites

left: Mamie from MLK District Garden and Nancy Zook from CCA Academy at the whirligig table during Open House Chicago right: Farm on Ogden's Whirligig installed onsite

Our fabrication contractors Erik Newman and Matt Binns with the Farm On Ogden's completed whirligig

Have You Seen All of the Whirligigs Yet?

Take a walk around North Lawndale and check out all of the whirligigs installed at each of our community garden partner sites! Here are a few shots we took of some of the whirligigs in action!

YMEN's Whirligig

Love Blooms Here Plaza's Whirligig

Stone Temple Whirligig

MLK District Garden's Whirligig

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