"Just Flo" putting the final touches on the mural. Photo by Sam Stroozas.

Last week, the Planned Parenthood health center in Englewood unveiled a community mural created by Jerrold “Just Flo” Anderson, a co-founder of the Englewood Arts Collective (EAC). Speakers at the unveiling included Anderson, Deonn Strathman, director of community engagement for Planned Parenthood Illinois, Camilla Neely, the Englewood Health Center manager and RaShanah Baldwin, #GoodinEnglewood creator. 

The mural was commissioned by Planned Parenthood to highlight the vibrant community in Englewood and #GoodinEnglewood, the hashtag and movement created by Baldwin to fight the biased news coverage of the Englewood community and to showcase the true sense of strength the neighborhood has. 

RaShanah Baldwin, #GoodinEnglewood creator. Photo by Sam Stroozas.

Paula Thornton Greear, chief external affairs officer of Planned Parenthood Illinois, worked to “pull all of the pieces together” for the mural. She met with EAC, Anderson and team members from the organization’s Englewood office to brainstorm what they wanted the piece to say.

Ideally, Thornton Greear said, each health center would have commissioned murals, but they decided to begin with the Englewood location because they had a “terrific wall” that was easily accessible and visible from Ashland Avenue.

“I remember when we first got the email about the mural, it was a spark of an idea that we grabbed onto,” she said. “Community murals send a powerful and celebratory message about neighborhoods and unity. We wanted to include #GoodInEnglewood because it shows the inherent value of Englewood that often gets lost in the news, the good that exists, and we are hoping people will look at it and it will bathe them in a sense of community that is so prevalent here.”

Planned Parenthood has been at its Englewood location since 2003 and provides the community with sexual health resources and education. The health center is also one of three clinics on the South Side that provides the abortion pill.

Planned Parenthood in Roseland also provides the abortion pill, but the Ryan Center at the University of Chicago is the only location on the South Side that provides an in-clinic abortion procedure up to 22 weeks.

Anderson, the muralist, shared that he wanted to focus on Planned Parenthood as a pillar for the Englewood community as well as depict the residents of the neighborhood working together in harmony.

The mural features residents, essential workers, and the Green Line—the connecting thread of Englewood, Anderson said.

“The first thing we had to do was understand what the good in Englewood is,” he said. “We are very well known for working together, and that is what we realized defines us, our ability to connect and come together for the greater good—which is what the piece symbolizes.”

Photo by Sam Stroozas.

Anderson, a visual and performing artist from the South Side, said he wanted the Planned Parenthood mural to reflect the true community and draw in passers-by with its bright, bold colors.

It was important to Anderson that he focused on what Planned Parenthood stands for and the healthcare that they provide for many Englewood residents.

“A lot of people just don’t know where to turn,” he said. “Planned Parenthood is a safe haven for individuals and families. Practicing sexual health responsibility overall is what I see Planned Parenthood standing for and setting a foundation about us working together and making the right decisions for you, whatever that choice may be.”

 

Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is the sexual health and reproductive justice fellow for Rebellious Magazine and a freelance journalist based in Chicago covering gender and social justice issues. Follow her on Twitter @samstroozas.