Grace Farms: Living and Breathing
When Grace Farms opened to the public one year ago, the Foundation aspired to preserve this site as a gift of open space, a peaceful respite for the community to enjoy and to encourage people to draw inspiration from nature, pursue justice, encounter the arts, explore faith, and above all, collaborate for the common good.
SANAA’s River building, with its transparent volumes, abundant communal spaces, and curated views of the expansive landscape, provided the ideal environment from which to launch these core initiatives, and the outcomes have been unprecedented thanks to the tireless efforts of our staff and the relationships forged with our partners.
What has emerged is a place of hospitality and inspiration for the public and not-for-profit organizations, with visitors spanning all ages and interests. We thank our diverse local and global communities, including Grace Community Church, for embracing Grace Farms as a place for meaningful interaction and open discourse to flourish.
The results have been beyond what we could have imagined. Grace Farms has afforded individuals and organizations the ability to come together to contemplate and create effective solutions and multi-faceted responses to the most complex human issues of our time. In May, Public Act No. 16-71, which was drafted at the Foundation’s Justice Initiative launch, was signed into law and is now one of the most comprehensive state laws to combat human trafficking in our nation. Our incredible not-for-profit partners, Polaris and IOFA, which specialize in fighting sex trafficking, have also hosted victims and project caseworkers on site throughout the year in an effort to heal, restore, and revitalize them. In June, the United Nations University (UNU) convened at Grace Farms to deliberate on the issue of human trafficking in conflict zones, with a special performance of Cry by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, resulting in a published report by UNU to the United Nations Security Council with ten specific ideas for action.
Unexpected combinations, such as justice and the performing arts, are another defining hallmark of the Foundation’s programming, and events including Backyard Explorer, the Practicing art series, and our monthly Community Dinner encourage a symbiotic relationship among the five initiatives—nature, arts, justice, community, and faith. This seamless convergence of diverse and distinct areas gives credence to our belief that the possibilities at Grace Farms truly are as open as the landscape, and we look forward to another year of greater outcomes with your participation.
Grace and peace to you.