Pull up a chair! Youth project restores a landmark project 

With hands-on work provided by young people working toward creating a better future for themselves and the community, the six-foot-tall […]

Three people fixing green chair in St. Paul

With hands-on work provided by young people working toward creating a better future for themselves and the community, the six-foot-tall Giant Green Chair located at the northwest corner of Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis got some attention. 

The project is a unique collaboration of Lakeside Center , artist Joel Sisson and Elpis Enterprises. Sisson was the originator of the original Green Chair project. 

The Green Chair at Bde Maka Ska was part of the Original Green Chair project that began in south Minneapolis during the early 1990s. The project was a way for the neighborhood young people to create a better community. With guidance from Sisson, young people around the Twin Cities built Adirondack chairs and gave two to each house on two blocks. The project was re-ignited by Elpis Enterprises with Sisson’s guidance in the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. 

During the summer of 2020, Sisson worked closely with Elpis Enterprise’s trainees to build Adirondack chairs (using the jigs from the 1990s project). The trainees built the chairs and used a sales model of a third chair donated to the community for every two chairs sold.  

The recent project involved replacing seat boards and repainting the big chair. Elpis Enterprises summer interns from both Step Up (Minneapolis) and Right Track (St. Paul) helped with this project as part of their summer internship. 

The sale of regular-sized cedar Adirondack chairs help support this program and can be purchased online through Elpis Enterprises. Workshops on chair building are also offered by Elpis. 

Elpis Enterprises is a nonprofit organization that uses its social enterprises to support young people with lived experiences that can make it difficult to enter the workforce and launch a career pathway that will provide family-sustaining wages. Many of the trainees are experiencing homelessness or have unstable housing. Program participants have included youth people with disabilities., Elpis Enterprises provides paid work experiences that offer opportunities for trainees to build skills, experiences, and connections. Its social enterprises include customized decorated/imprinted apparel and similar items, as well as a product-centered woodworking enterprise. Elpis also offers community-based do it yourself workshops.