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The Betty Swan Community Arboretum is a living laboratory in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood where residents, students, and treekeepers learn about and practice caring for city trees. This arboretum was previously called the Arthington Community Garden, created by Betty Swan in 1997, a resident leader of the 3800 W. Arthington block. Redesigning the garden into a tree park was the idea of Glenda Daniel, a staff member of Openlands, and Velma Johnson, our hardworking president of the Greening Committee who passed away in October 2008. Openlands and the North Lawndale Greening Committee met with the community and design students from the Illinois Institute of Technolgy on April 21, 2007 to examine designs and to hear ideas for making the arboretum a teacher education center as well as an outdoor tree museum and park.
There are a few neighbors that garden along with out-of-state volunteers from a church service group. The garden is part of the North Lawndale Greening Committee, and it includes crab-apple and apple trees. Neighbors sometimes hold parties in the garden for children’s birthdays or to take graduation photos.