CHICAGO On Monday, Dec. 21 at 11 a.m., 12th District State Representative Yoni Pizer will be hosting a virtual town hall with fellow elected officials, community partners, and project managers to provide a progress report on the installation of the AIDS Garden Chicago on the lakefront, just south of Belmont.
Dedicated to the victims of HIV and AIDS - and erected at the site of the former "Belmont Rocks," the beloved gathering site of the local gay community between the 1960's and 1990's, - the first phase of the northside landmark was completed in the Fall of 2019 with the installation of Keith Haring's "Self-Portrait" sculpture. The project's completion is targeted for Fall 2021. A private/public collaboration, the project still needs the State of Illinois to release the funding, which has already been allocated.
"The importance of this project has taken on new meaning in light of the current pandemic and the political trauma of the last for years," Rep. Pizer said. "This garden will forever remind us of those we've lost and all those affected by HIV/AIDS. But the memorial will also serve as a symbol of the hope and resilience of the LGBTQ community - and of the will, power, and perseverance of any community under siege, even in the face of a horrific global pandemic. I am grateful to the dedicated visionaries who made this project a reality, and I am proud that I could play a role in making it happen."
Willa Lang, the Executive Director of the Chicago Parks Foundation, has been one of the driving forces behind the project. "The Chicago Parks Foundation is honored to be part of this historic legacy project for the city and for the communities and individuals who have been affected by and still live with HIV/AIDS," Lang remarked. "We are far from eradicating the disease, but this garden and iconic Keith Haring sculpture will serve as a beacon of unity and hope. This is a park with a purpose and a message. The Chicago Parks Foundation is proud to have stewarded this project to its current state, and looks forward to continued community collaboration as we work to bring AIDS Garden Chicago to completion as a true garden for all."
Alderman Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward has been the project's lead, planning and promoting the Garden since its inception. "Working with advocates, community members and supporters, we are building a garden that will honor and support those impacted by HIV/AIDS as well as educate future generations on the history and ongoing fight for a cure." Alderman Tom Tunney stated. "Chicago's history with and efforts toward combating HIV/AIDS are unique and profound. Advocates want to make sure there is an educational component that respects that history, those efforts and the ongoing fight."
The event will be hosted on Zoom, and all participants are encouraged to register beforehand at us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rdO-rrzgrHtwpDgfAigaJH3gtAeR_oUzS .