© Emily Schiffer, 2011, Securing Food in Chicagoland

Mariah examines a spider web in Eddie Harris’s garden. Harris, a local artist, has converted his lawn into a unique garden in which he paints on trees and creates art with found materials, in addition to growing fruit, vegetables and flowers.

"I arrived in the South Side of Chicago in June 2011 anticipating tall buildings clustered together and people relaxing on stoops, similar to my Brooklyn neighborhood. Instead, the large, century-old single family homes and sprawling lawns conjured visions of suburbia. Despite the frequency of blight, the wide tree-lined streets oozed tranquility. Yet within my first days in Chicago, segregation overwhelmed me. I quickly noticed that blacks and whites rarely mix, that the systematic neglect of black neighborhoods imprisons residents, and that an unexplained white woman strolling through neighborhood streets seemed to make people uncomfortable.

I’d come to Chicago after receiving a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant to pursue a project about the city’s problems with food security and its urban agriculture movement. Around 384,000 people without transportation live more than a mile from a grocery store and have difficulty obtaining healthy options. But, because race weighs so heavily upon Chicago, I quickly became most interested the historical context of this modern day crisis. Time and again, I encountered mistrust and hostility on both sides: I swam through white entitlement on the north side, and black suspicion on the south. Still, people seemed relieved and eager to talk when I mentioned the ever-present segregation.” (read more)