Saturday afternoon, the garden at the Urban Art Retreat in North Lawndale served as a host for unlikely hidden treasures—splashes of color gave away eggs nestled in the grass, Optimus Prime and other Transformers festooned goodie bags hung from the trees, and all kinds of loot, even swimming goggles, waited to be discovered.
A group of kids under ten lined up at the garden’s gate before the hunt–the first ever by the Urban Art Retreat, a private non-profit organization that serves the community of North Lawndale. Although the hunt was to be the survival of the fittest, the volunteer leading the hunt made sure to emphasize that the Urban Art Retreat was a place of non-violence, and the children were to act in a peaceful manner: no hitting, no swearing, no fighting. The kids proceeded into the garden in an orderly fashion to begin the hunt, Â carefully treading over stepping-stones and pawing through the grass to find the eggs their parents had easily spotted from the gate minutes before. Though the children were engrossed in the hunt, a small neighborhood dog in attendance was not. Once her leash was released, she bounded homeward, leaving the woman who brought her and sympathetic onlooker to chase her down the street, yelling “Foxy, no, get back here!” Thankfully, the two women returned with the news Foxy had made it safely home to her backyard.
As the young children oohed, awed, and compared their spoils after the hunt, two mothers sat at a table and made wish listsfor their children. While the women made their lists, Dianna Long, the event’s coordinator, disappeared into the red brick house and later emerged with a box of food for a woman who had brought her godson to the hunt. “On the surface,” said Long, “the Urban Art Retreat is an arts organization, but underneath, we try to help people where they’re at and give them what they need.” It’s an astute assessment of the Retreat’s purpose: to diminish the impact of insufficient resources in surrounding communities, and Long is wise to observe that a visit from the Easter bunny isn’t the culmination of her efforts by a long shot.