The Southside Neighbors for Hope (SSNH), a group of community members who support the building of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Jackson Park, was formed last month, establishing themselves with a website and various social media pages. The organization was founded by the community members who wrote a letter of support for the OPC last winter. Their letter was signed by over 200 University of Chicago faculty and local community members.
The SSNH believes that the building of the OPC will be greatly beneficial to Jackson Park and its surrounding communities by helping the creation of a stronger, cleaner, and safer environment. On their website, they write, “We do not believe that building this stronger community is the sole responsibility of the Obama Foundation or of the OPC, but rather that it must come from community members working together with elected officials to make sure that progress serves the majority of the Southside residents.”
The founding of the SSNH comes after several complaints regarding the building of the OPC from other organizations, such as Protect Our Parks and Jackson Park Watch. In the past, there have been concerns about a lack of transparency in the planning process, negative environmental impacts, and gentrification. Additionally, on May 14, Protect Our Parks, an environmental activism group, filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, claiming that the plan to use 19 acres of Jackson Park for the site of the OPC was illegal.