Chicagoan Sean Parnell took on a big problem in his Self-Expression and Leadership program–The problem of abandoned homes or lots. Many houses or lots, particularly in poorer west and south side neighborhoods, have stood empty for many years. Parnell saw that this creates many problems for the community, from the use of those properties for crimes, to preventing neighborhoods from coming back, to being eyesores, and more.
Parnell wanted to make a real and positive difference in bringing light to those properties, so he created the Abandoned Lot Project. On this website, Parnell tracks a variety of abandoned properties and what is happening with them. Parnell was also interviewed for a Fox News story on abandoned lots in Chicago:
Parnell was also interviewed by the Chicagoist, a leading Chicago website. In that interview, he said:”I wanted to do something that had a positive impact at the community level – never done a community project, and I thought, “well, what am I good at?” I just explained what I was interested in, but how could I apply that? Well, I created the Chicago Bar Project and that’s given a lot of exposure to bars in a very positive way. What if [I] take it in the opposite direction and expose some of the things that are really bad about the city? That these abandoned buildings would be allowed to lay vacant for sometimes 20, 30, 40 years? Because abandoned buildings are magnets for drug activity, and fires, and all kinds of illegal activity – and they’re just dangerous. Staircases can collapse, floors can collapse, there’s rats in there. They’re magnets for bad things.”
“And think about, what if you owned a property next to an abandoned building that sits vacant for 20 years? What’s that going to do to your property value? That can affect the property value of the whole neighborhood if it’s an especially bad one. So I was hoping to enact some positive change, and try to get some of these places dealt with. I had to pick five to fit within the scope, but I thought “what am I going to be able to do in three months, that will have an impact?”
The full interview with Parnell is much longer–Check it out at the Chicagoist website.