Too-often community managed urban spaces are presented in an almost utopian light, obfuscating the often messy, iterative on the ground reality. But what is the cost of this gap between image and reality? It ends up favoring capital over human investment, disappears community labor, emphasizes instrumental outcomes and simplifies complex community stories. So how might we share a more complete story of community-managed spaces, one that captures their full value and makes visible their too-often hidden benefits? One strategy is to reframe community stewarded spaces as an important part of cities’ social infrastructure—physical spaces, organizations and actions that support civic life. This workshop will delve into the building blocks of social infrastructure first through the prism of community gardens in Chicago and then through a breakout exercise where participant will be invited to diagram how other urban open spaces function (and don’t) as social infrastructure. Research has found that civic stewardship groups activate green space to function as social infrastructure in a range of important ways. Stewards foster friendships, associations and social cohesion. They create gathering spaces and enliven them with place-based and culturally relevant programming and engage in community organizing and planning. There is not one magic framework that will tell the true story of community gardens, but it is crucial that we pay attention to the profound work occurring in community-managed spaces, and tell the story that does these efforts justice. For the Chicago case studies, we will share how a team of practitioners and researchers from the Central Park Conservancy institute for Urban Parks, NeighborSpace (land trust), Borderless (design studio) and the USDA Forest Service – Northern Research Station, developed diagrams which visualize the visible and invisible systems at play and more fully communicate the outcomes and benefits of community managed spaces.