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Articles - Archived 2015 Series

We will post articles here that we believe are relevant to the positive life of Southeast Chicago Community.  Contentiousness can be found on Facebook and most social media, as well as on metropolitan and national media.  We choose to limit our material to that which, in our opinion, does not erode the soul of the community.  Our site, our choice.  k/j

November 9, 2016: Examination of the articles actually published in this section might suggest that we have flown contrary to the course stated in the paragraph, above.   Circumstances in the life of the community have impelled us to discuss negative forces that we believe threaten the well-being of our communtiy.  Given that perception, we have attempted to deal with those concerns as rationally and factually as possible, to avoid the contentiousness we mentioned in that first paragraph.  You, dear reader, will be the judge, with respect to our achievement, or non-achievement, of that purpose.


I've Got a Bad Feeling About This . . . 

by

Kevin P. Murphy

In the summer of 1977 or 1978 -- my three young daughters and I crammed into our 1973 Ford Pinto, in a Wisconsin drive-in movie theater, to see a new movie, "Star Wars -- Episode IV: A New Hope."   

As the drive-in staff puttered about, getting cars settled in, popcorn and soda dished out, while moving preliminary teasers off the screen and progressing into the main feature, I have no doubt that we buzzed earnestly about, "Episode IV?  What the heck happened to the first three?"   (No doubt, we would have been better off had we never learned the answer to that question, but I digress.)  

Then, the movie began and, like millions of other viewers around the world, we became inductees to a new, and fascinating cult, "Star Wars Fandom."   And we loved it -- at least through Episodes IV - VI.   While Mr. Lucas did some amazing things with Episodes I - III, they were more visually tantalizing, than inspirational, works.

So many words have already been written, lamenting the transition of Anakin-Luke Skywalker/George Lucas, from young, idealistic, seeker of truth and battler against imperial arrogance, to insensitive, manipulative, merciless, wielder of planet crushing force, that there is little purpose in belaboring the point here.   However, now that the Empire has chosen to threaten the very existence of my native pla . . .  city, and its marvelous, Burnham-Plan-Preserved lakefront, I feel compelled to point out the inappropriateness of the presiding Emperor's plan, starting with the question, why Chicago?

Given that all seven of the Star Wars sagas have been filmed almost exclusively in English film studios and far-flung field locales, featuring mostly British and/or Commonwealth actors, tech persons, etc., why is Mr. Lucas not seeking a site near Elstree Studios, Lee International Studios, or Shepperton Studios, all located in England, UK or, at the very least, near Fox Studios, Moore Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (SW II and III)?  

Chicago did not produce any of the seven movies, nor did it provide cast, techies, locations, or much of anything, other than ticket purchases, to all of the movies.   Yet, here comes The Emperor, determined to carve out a chunk of Chicago lakefront for commercial purposes and, by doing that, to seriously weaken the century-old, unique Burnham Plan, intended to keep that same lakefront free and accessible to the citizens of the city for all time.   Remembering Senator Palpatine/The Emperor, and his twisty associates of the Sith -- and god-knows-what-other cliques -- we wonder what Emperor George has in mind when he focuses on this unlikely site for his personal Great Pyramid.   Hmm -- billions of dollars worth of protected(?) lakefront, just waiting for lively development.  

If the Lucas incursion is permitted, the dam will have been cracked.  ("Commander, the lakefront will be within range in 12 seconds . . . . ") 

I do have a bad feeling about this.

© 2015 Kevin P.Murphy

NOTE, Feb. 4, 2016: Apparently a federal Judge recognizes the importance of such "bad feelings about this:" http://www.usnews.com/news/entertainment/articles/2016-02-04/judge-lets-lawsuit-continue-against-lucas-museum-in-chicago


Performance video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asu9tsb3e3w&spfreload=10


Claretian Associates' Angela Hurlock speaks about Claretian Associates and the South Chicago community! 



A Reluctant Farewell

by Kevin P. Murphy

As I rapidly approach my 80th birthday, I realize that an awful lot has happened between my birth in the mid-1930s -- when horse-drawn wagons were still major players in our communities, selling fresh vegetables from block to block, picking up old, but potentially valuable "rags and old irons," etc., to the summer of 2015 -- the amazing future that pulp science fiction only vaguely envisioned, and missed entirely in many respects, my fellow personal computer and smart phone users.  We have even had humans on the Moon -- and withdrawn completely therefrom, all in the blink of a late-20th century eye.

We have learned -- twice, at least -- that wars to end wars don't.   We have learned, and seem vigorously determined to forget, that we are all stakeholders and contributors to the future of this planet, not just the extremely wealthy, who seem to view the rest of us as theirs to dispose of as they wish forgetting, always, that the Beethovens, Einsteins, Salks, and the like, of all cultures were not at all the offspring of the elite.  In fact, studying the performance results of that vastly privileged stratum suggests that they are almost certain to lead the planet into long-term failure.   But, perhaps I'm unusually pessimistic today because I am in mourning, lamenting the loss of one of our community's most heroic enterprises, due to the unending failure of corporate and government promises made to an admirable human being who strove mightily for 9 years to provide technological enlightenment to the most computer illiterate ward in the city of Chicago, at no charge to the student population.

Thus, parents, grandparents and other community residents -- especially the elderly, retired and technologically isolated -- became citizens of the "e" universe, able to communicate with their children's and grandchildren's schools, to learn about and access city, state, and federal resources to learn about matters important to their survival in this online age.  And, of course, they became able consumers in the digital marketplace.

In September of 2006, when we first entered Knowledge HookUp's new training site, I was amazed at the level of perfection its founder, Patricia ("Patty") Fisher, had brought to the community.  I must clarify that I was viewing the site, not as a layman, but as a professional, for I had long been involved in corporate training for one of the nation's top electronic corporations.  My responsibilities had ranged from management education to NASA manufacturing training design, development, and execution.  I know what a top-quality technical training site should look like.  I know what it should be able to do to enable students to become highly competent in their training area.  I told Patty at the time, "If we had had spaces like this, equipped and laid out as you have it here, I would have thought I had already arrived in heaven!"

Patty, too, is a professional.  She worked with computers in corporate settings that depended on her expertise to keep them functioning effectively.   When she was challenged by her corporation to do something meaningful for her community, she exceeded that challenge mightily, bringing state of the art equipment and content to a community both desperate for knowledge, and amazingly responsive to an opportunity that did not falsely promise to train, while charging exorbitant rates, and rarely conducting actual training -- as in many of the residents' prior exposures to such "opportunities" that had earlier been offered to the community. 

Instead, KHU provided true hands-on training, with enough competent and caring instructors to work one-on-one with a learner for as long as he or she required. 

It wasn't long before KHU was also providing training to assist local schools in their work with students, hosting ESL courses from nearby Olive-Harvey College, and other such enrichment of the community.  But, of course, there was a dark side -- funding.   

Patty was wooed by wannabe entrepreneurs who had global visions for projects that could use KHU as a star component of their publicity campaigns -- and such campaigns frequently failed to deliver promised financial support as they, themselves, foundered on a faltering economy.  

Meanwhile, KHU was awash with expenses that too often had expanded as a result of the proposed, but failed, supporters.  The expenses, however, did not vanish as easily.   

State funding that would have invigorated the enterprise was blocked by a lunatic governor whose regime wreaked havoc before he was finally removed from office -- no doubt to eventually become a highly paid talk show host on some idiocy channel.  

But, for several more years, KHU soldiered on, weathering each broken promise, hosting each new PR event for the next promiser who also would not deliver much beyond the photo op.  And, Patty's health deteriorated.  It had been marginal when she began the project, but that had never stopped her.  Sometimes barely able to walk, or even talk, she would attend meeting after meeting, spread all over the region, to explain her mission, and to seek support, political, emotional/communal, and/or economic.  And she, too, soldiered on.

Time after time, when such promises failed, Patty drew on her own, increasingly meagre, economic resources, to keep her dream -- and the community's technological lifeline -- alive.   

This year, the well ran dry.  Knowledge HookUp closed its doors forever on July 9, 2015.

Southeast Chicago is a community long accustomed to gigantic promises that yield microscopic realities, if any.   Thus, for example, "Best Nest" became a shell game piece that has been manipulated from leading edge environmental education site to a poster on an outhouse door of a limited interest, inaccessible, site.  

But Knowledge HookUp was the real deal -- Patty Fisher dug in her heels and said, "No, Chicago!  You will not keep my neighborhood in the technological dark, not as long as I have anything to say about it!"

And, for nine years, Patty had plenty to say about it.  May God bless you, Patty, as you so courageously blessed the community.

###



The following article is reprinted with the permission of author, MIchael Boos, who is Executive Director of the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiaitve (AWLI) and an East Side resident.  We believe that it is noteworthy for its gardening information, as well as for its charm:


Field Museum holds Calumet Region National Heritage Corridor meetings

by Joann Podkul Murphy 

Since December, 2013, a team of Field Museum staff members have convened several community meetings in NW Indiana and on Chicago's Southeast Side to prepare a proposal for a Calumet Region National Heritage Corridor stretching from the Indiana Dunes through Southeast Chicago to the Field Museum.  Supporting decades-long efforts by local grass-roots environmental and cultural organizations, the bi-state project would highlight our natural resources and unique history.

Suddenly, our future is also our past.  Fortunately, there is much to celebrate: century-old churches, banks, schools, businesses and other architectural treasures, along with many fine examples of public art.  Consider a few possibilities in South Chicago alone:

  • Commercial Avenue may have seen better days when mill paychecks supported it, but it retains much of its original building stock, with a unique non-cookie-cutter character.  Within a few blocks, you can stop at Bernard's Hat Shop and purchase a hat comparable to the one worn by Blues Brother, Jake, when he saw the light at Pilgrim Baptist Church; buy furniture at Steel City Furniture that will last a life-time, and drop off your favorite, but worn-down, shoes at Shoe Repair and More, to be re-soled for a quite modest price. 
  • Steelworkers Walkway along 87th Street, from the Lake to Commercial Avenue, features several types of working-class housing, including Germano-Millgate -- a union sponsored apartment complex.  
  • "Heart and Soul Street" -- 91st Street, from Green Bay to Exchange,  clusters churches, social service agencies, the National Shrine of St. Jude, the Viet Nam Memorial, YMCA, library, murals and SkyArt.

  • Since grass-roots support is vital for the national heritage corridor concept to fly,  we are encouraged to see students from local elementary and high schools expressing interest in area assets. Coincidentally, in an effort to draw attention to such assets, local artists have begun a  "Drive-By-Art" project, through which they hope to change a very negative concept into one of hope.  This idea is beautifully illustrated at the 79th and Exchange installation, in a painting of delicately shaped flowers growing out of a pair of discarded gym shoes symbolizing, in the words of the artist, "a second chance."  Working together, we can achieve this for Chicago's Southeast Side.

###


(The following articles appeared first in Our Neighborhood Times [ONT], June 11, 2015)

Green Summit Themes Reflect Southeast Chicago's Future

by Joann Podkul Murphy

This third and final in the series of 10th Ward Green Summit articles focuses on the future of Chicago's Southeast Side. 

The Green Summit invites us to look at area assets, not only in May, but all year long.  These assets are fixtures on our landscape, not bullet points on a display board.  

While Lakeside development on the U.S.X site promises a futuristic self-sustaining "New City," changes not quite so dramatic, but significant, can be seen in the larger South Chicago community, which has LEED Community designation.  Leadership in energy and environmental design has introduced local residents to the sustainable development vocabulary. Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry may have its "Smart Home" in a single location, but our green sites are scattered over the wider area of Chicago's Southeast Side. Familiarity with green concepts will be useful as businesses, like Mariano's (coming soon to 87th Street and the Lake Shore Drive Extension), become case studies for large stand-alone green facilities, which will eventually be woven into the larger Lakeside plan.

Meanwhile, our green gardens continue to thrive, largely through the efforts of neighborhood volunteers and student "Green Teams," like the one led by Mrs. LaJuana Jackson, a Chicago Conservation Corps leader, at Arnold Mireles Academy, and Master Gardeners, like Gregory Bratton.

Our green open space is increasing noticeably, as the Chicago Park District converts several numbered plots to named recreational sites.

In keeping with the 1909 Burnham Plan, "The Last Four Miles" plan of Friends of the Parks continues to advocate for extending the Lake Michigan shoreline of Calumet Park from 95th north to 92nd and the Calumet River.

A new hiking/biking trail now branches off to the East from the Burnham Greenway and runs through Eggers Grove to the state line trail leading to the Indiana side of Wolf Lake.

Steelworkers Park, at 87th Street and Lake Michigan, with its Steelworkers Monument by South Chicago artist Roman Villarreal,  connects the community with the lakefront via an imposing quarter-mile parkway lined on one side by a set of 40 foot high ore walls, once a storehouse for the working mill.

Many older buildings have been salvaged and restored for new uses.  To those listed earlier in this series -- A-Scrap Metal, SkyArt, Burley Apartments and Fr. Werling's youth hostel, add Finkl Steel in the abandoned Verson Steel site, Crowley's Yacht Yard at Federal Marine, Knowledge Hook Up computer center in a former neighborhood tavern, and Under the Bridge Studio in the space once occupied by my favorite after-school hang-out: Ernie's Ice Cream Parlor.  Other transformations: Harbor Side Golf Course sits on a non-toxic trash heap, and Big Marsh, a proposed state-of-the-art eco-tourism mountain bike park, is being molded out of a slag-filled wetland.

In keeping with the recycling theme of the Green Summit, SIMS Metal Management has turned its block-long fence at 93rd and Ewing into a lesson on recycling and has taken its Recyclarium to students at local schools.

As this year's calendar indicates, late April's Earth Day and Arbor Day celebrations were natural openers for the Green Summit.  As proposed green building projects become realities, the language of green will be even more common in 2016 than it is this year.  Again, we LEED the way.

A huge thanks to all summit presenters and participants, and to Graciela Robledo at Claretian Associates for pulling it all together. 

###

Steelworker's Return: Monument unveiling at 87th and the Lake 

by Joann Podkul Murphy

After nearly a quarter of a century absence, a steelworker returned to the former U.S. Steel-SouthWorks site on Saturday, May 9th, 2015.  Sculpted by South Chicago artist and former steelworker, Roman Villarreal, the 11-foot tall bronze-clad figure brings with him his family, dog and lunch bucket. His orientation toward the West -- "the future," as the artist puts it -- explains why he endured the fire-breathing dragon of mill work.

Marking the occasion were U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (IL-2nd); Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; 10th Ward Alderman, John A. Pope; Chicago Park District CEO and General Superintendent, Michael P. Kelly; Chicago City Treasurer, Kurt Summers;  Chicago Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Robert G. Reiter; Illinois Labor History Society Regional Director, Larry Spivack; Lakeside Development representative, Dean Welch; retired steelworker, Jorge Perez, Sr.; sculptor, Roman Villarreal, and artist-project manager, Roman De Lion.

  Host/emcee for the ceremony, South Chicago Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Dan Lira, prefaced the unveiling with words by Rod Sellers, curator of the Southeast Chicago History Society Museum, on the significance of the area mill for the community and the nation. 

Despite the inclement weather at the site, an appreciative crowd watched while the wrapping around the monument caught the wind, unwound and revealed this tribute to steelworkers.  In it, no doubt, the vast majority of those present saw themselves and their own families.  

Participants were invited to warm up and celebrate with the artists and friends at Under the Bridge Arts Studio, 10052 South Ewing Avenue, Chicago, following the ceremony.

###

SE Chicago Historical Society Dinner Celebrates 70th Anniversary of WWII End  

by Joann Podkul Murphy

Following up on a recommendation members made at its annual business meeting, the Southeast Chicago Historical Society invited area World War II veterans to its annual dinner at the Crow Bar on Sunday, May 17th, with the theme of "70th Anniversary of the End of WW II: Home Front."  

Six veterans attended as guests and provided the nearly 80 other people at the event with the opportunity to personally thank them for their service. Honorees were:  John Dorigan, Edward Jania, John Novak, James Rossi, Alfonso Sifuentes, and Carmen Torres. 

Rod Sellers, curator/director of the museum, shared a presentation of photos from the museum's collection of area servicemen and women, victory gardens, war-related local industries and block plaques listing residents who were serving in the armed forces. 

On the home front, the many "Rosie the Riveters," mill and shipyard workers, and locals, who worked on the University of Chicago's Manhattan Project, were acknowledged.

Museum items on display included uniforms and other memorabilia from WW II.  Rob Stanley's war-time posters on each table transformed the space into the 1940's. 

In addition to the program and tribute, society officers were installed: President Barney Janecki, Vice-President Rob Stanley, Treasurer Carolyn Mulac and Secretary Karen Brozynski.  Gloria Novak, former president and secretary, was acknowledged for her decades of service to the organization.

### 

Ninos Heroes Students work to create a safer environment 

Story submitted by Niños Heroes Community Academy

Working with Angie Viands of Field Museum's Earth Force Program, students in Ms. Laura Senteno's 8th grade class at Ninos Heroes developed a project as close to us as our medicine cabinets.  What does one do with out-of-date remedies or no longer needed prescription medications?  Flushing or trashing might seem to be easy solutions but what happens to the material after that? 

Ninos students researched the pharmaceutical issue, created an informative brochure along with a presentation board and shared their findings at their school and with attendees at the recently held Field Museum Earth Force Summit Day.  

Students plan to make a presentation for Ninos parents in the near future and are considering hosting a collection event. 

The Field Museum offers Mighty Acorns for younger elementary students, Earth Force for upper grade elementary and Calumet Is My Backyard for high school students. 

###

Eggers Grove hosts a party and planting event 

by Joann Podkul Murphy

On Saturday, May 16, the "Nature Block Party and Wetland Planting" event sponsored by Cook County Forest Preserves, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Field Museum, the Calumet Ecological Park Association and Wild Indigo provided those who love the outdoors with a rich array of activities at Eggers Grove Forest Preserve, 112th and Avenue E, inviting them to:

--cycle on the new trail connecting Eggers with the Burnham Greenway and NW Indiana trails;

--fish at Wolf Lake;

--hike from Wolf Lake to Eggers and at Eggers itself;

--turn discarded materials including slices of buckthorn branches into art objects;

--plant a variety of plugs along the edge of the grove's wetlands deep in the forest yet visible from the indiana Tollroad;

--use an ipad for birdwatching;

--remove the invasive Garlic Mustard plant;

--build a shelter;

--recognize a Box turtle,

and lots more.

The forest floor was up to the occasion: dressed in Wild Geranium, Jack in the Pulpit, May Apples, Columbine, violets and many other spring flowers at their peak.  As volunteer Christopher Rodriguez remarked:  "Who would believe that such a gem could exist on the Southeast Side...?"

This year's party is over but the memory lingers on....

###


Sierra Club/Sauk-Calumet Group Newsletter

This issue features articles about "Best Nest," the "Clean Power Plan and the Illinois Jobs Bill," among other important items: http://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce/sauk-calumet-group/nl/SC-News-June2015.pdf

BEST NEST -- One More time . . . 

by Kevin P. Murphy

Over the past few months the Southeast Chicago community has been invited to participate in a study questioning the revival of, and probable revision/relocation of, the original Ford Environmental Education Center (a.k.a., "Best Nest").  Conducted by Chicago's Lakota Group, the study came to certain conclusions, which were circulated recently among those who had participated in the study, who were then invited to respond to that report.   Following are some Southeast Chicagoans' responses to that report.


From Sharon Rolek, Calumet Ecological Park Association, 052615:

While I have not been able to attend the meeting, etc., I have been active in the Lake Calumet Region for years.  The Environmental Center was to be the "Jewel in the Crown" and generate the eco-tourism that the Pullman Monument will complement.  PROMISES were made by City officials, and repeatedly.

Today is the deadline for comments and I have been marathoning with a project at work; therefore, my comments are brief but heartfelt.

1. To start from "scratch" about the site of the Center is re-inventing the wheel.  Yet, the Lakota Group has come up with a SQUARE wheel! You seem to have merely gone through the motions while being already committed to Big Marsh and the Bike Park.  How can you think that the peace and beauty of Hegewisch Marsh (that had years of work to return it to its natural state) is compatible with overly-active daredevils?

2. As the Lakota process went on, it seemed few relevant and community members were contacted to give input.  How disappointing.

3. The downsizing to bathrooms and a closet is hardly the Educational Center often discussed during meetings.  The Center was even to have historical information about the area and its many struggles -- possibly electronically inter-active exhibits. 

 4. Please review Open Letter and materials from Kevin P. Murphy who has expressed our disappointment very eloquently.

I look forward to being added to your email list and kept apprised.  Thank you.

Sharon Rolek, Chicago, IL 60633   


From Peggy Salazar, Southeast Environmental Task Force, 052615:

In 2010, the Southeast Environmental Task Force discovered that the city of Chicago had made plans to build an outdoor firing range and training facility for Chicago and regional police forces.  The property sited was across the river from Hegewisch Marsh and the proposed site for the Ford Calumet Environmental Center.  This was of grave concern to us, because the Center and Marsh would be visited by the public and that public would surely be impacted by the sound of rounds of ammunition being fired all day, every day.  In addition, the firing range was to be built adjacent to two ponds supporting flourishing wildlife and a blue heron rookery. 

We reacted by informing other organizations like Friends of the Parks, the Chicago Audubon, CEPA and others who in turn responded with as much alarm as we did.  With their support  and that from birding experts like Carolyn Marsh, we fought long and hard to stop the project.  In 2012, after more than a year of meetings with the Police Department and the City, testifying at MWRD Commission meetings, requests for sound studies,  letter writing and with the aid of a pair of eagles, the project was killed.  The eagles appeared, as if to validate our contention that the planning and the design for the Ford Calumet Environmental Center and Hegewisch Marsh were special and deserved more consideration.   No doubt an omen that we weren't wrong. 

It's not enough that we've been told that the award winning design for the FCEC is off of the table and that the Southeast side is once again being short changed.  The  FCEC that was to draw crowds from all over the region has been reduced to little more than housing for restrooms with some instructional space.  It is apparent that our Mayor has disappointed us again by not recognizing that the the revitalization of our community is going to require grander plans than that.

Peggy Salazar 

Southeast Environmental Task Force 

13300 Baltimore Ave. 

Chicago IL 60633


From Joann Podkul Murphy, member CEPA and Southeast Chicago HIstorical Society, 052615:

Visitors to Hegewisch Marsh will be able to access it on the soon-to-be-completed reconfiguration of Torrence Avenue.   Current access to Big Marsh runs along a pot-holed stretch of Stony Island from 103rd to 116th, and from 122nd to 116th, if you enter from the south.  If funding has not been allocated for road construction on Stony, how does this affect the total cost of the project?
Sincerely,
Joann Podkul

From Judith A. Lihota, President, Calumet Ecological Park Association, to the Lakota Group, 052615:

The proposal for the Ford Calumet Environmental Center (FCEC) is not acceptable.  Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang Architects, "Best Nest" was designed for the Hegewisch Marsh, 134th Street and Torrence Ave., Chicago.  It was scheduled to be open by 2011.  This prize winning design was promised for education and research in the Calumet natural areas.  This proposal moves the location and reduces the size from 20,000 sq. ft to 5,000 sq. ft.  Furthermore, "Best Nest" would become part of the Bike Park at Big Marsh.  As President of the Calumet Ecological Park Association, we do not support this proposal.

Judith A. Lihota, President, Calumet Ecological Park Association, Chicago, IL 60633

From Kevin P. Murphy, East Side Resident, and CEPA member, to the Lakota Group, 052615:

Regarding the outcome of the FCEC Feasibility Study

Attached you will find two documents of mine.   One, titled, "052515 KPM Response to Lakota Group report," is an immediate response to the Lakota Group documents.  The second, titled, "Southeast Chicago's Best Nest--Just another Maltese Falcon?" provides supplemental information supporting the first document.

Short answer: no way is the proposal acceptable.   If you want to know why that is the short answer, please consult the above-mentioned, attached, documents.

I hope, as I believe many of my fellow residents do, that you will take these comments seriously, and share them appropriately.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Kevin Murphy

Understanding the Best Nest/Ford Environmental Education Center Mirage

by Kevin P. Murphy

Sociologists tell us that no social event occurs without a reason.  Thus, as the late Robert K. Merton pointed out, there are a lot of reasons, besides the production of rain, that account for the persistence of rain dances in aboriginal American societies -- a good thing, considering that they apparenty had little success in achieving their alleged primary purpose.  

I was reminded of the foregoing while reviewing the Lakota Group's recommendation that the original 28,000 square foot Best Nest Environmental Learning Center, intended to be installed on the edge of a vitally important environmental area, Hegewisch Marsh, be reduced to a pathetically small 5,000 foot space in a wasteland area, where visitors to that micro-learning center will likely be menaced constantly by the primary-target audience, self-absorbed cyclists whose sole "Rule of the Road," seems to be "Get out of my way, damn you!"  And, to add even more insult, the non-cyclists will be allowed to share outhouses with the cyclists, if they survive the first challenge. 

As I reflected on the latest recommendation, the term, "bait and switch" came roaring out of the past.  And, I wondered why the "Best Nest" issue had been raised again, after Southeast Chicago had endured years of broken promises and, after the community had finally accepted the inevitable fact that the fantasy of Best Nest was only that, and nothing more. And, yet, the community has been approached once again by external forces (i.e., "downtown"), and has had cruel false hopes rekindled, much like a family being told that a deceased loved one may be revived from the dead.

Merton reminds us, though, that it all has purpose, and it occurs to me that there are some credible explanations regarding ingredients of that "purpose."

Joann and I (both degreed sociologists) have traveled extensively, by car, across the nation, predominantly through the nation's original eastern industrial region, which subsequently had been reduced to "Rust Belt."  Driving mainly along non-Interstate roads, we noticed a pattern of melting towns between large metropolitan areas, but we also noticed that, in addition to those dissolving remnants of former American habitation, there were towns that glowed with new purpose and life, and we pondered the contrast.   

What might account for the difference?  Why does one town melt back into the landscape while another blooms with new life?    We also wondered how that might apply to the life of Southeast Chicago, a former mainstay of American progress?

While we have not performed more than observational research, it occurred to us that the towns seemed to share the common factor of cohesion. Thus, we theorized that the people involved in the destiny of all those communities were, by-and-large, present within the particular community, bound to its destiny and, we theorized further, were able to come up with viable new plans for the successful towns, or unable to do so, in the case of the failing towns.   

Looking at Southeast Chicago from that perspective, we felt a certain sense of doom, not because of the constitution of the community, but because, unlike successful small cities (Pittsburgh, for example) and ex-urban towns that are thriving, it is landlocked within the larger metropolitan giant that is Chicago, and is governed by that larger entity's view of, and plans for, this potential source of vast wealth that is perched on so much desirable lakefront and environmentally rich land -- if only we lower-middle-to-impoverished obstacles were not already occupying the space.

But, as the Koch brothers and their like so frequently remind us, we live in a democracy, and our wishes and needs must be respected. So, we are offered dreams, but always flawed dreams, so that no significant change -- change that might restore our economic base and our local power -- will be supported.

Comparing the Southeast Chicago situation to contrastingly successful cities and towns, I was again reminded of something else -- from British history.  

The story is told that pirate/privateer/naval hero, Sir Francis Drake, was being followed by two Italian warships in the Mediterranean Sea, but that they would not engage with his more powerful ship.  Instead, they remained out of range of his guns, but close enough to observe his moves.  He did not want to be observed, but he could not get them to close with him.  Finally, he conceived of a plan to draw them close enough for him to engage them.

Sir Francis ordered crew members to drop a large sail into the water on the side away from sight of the followers, rigging it as a drogue (like the parachutes used to slow high-speed aircraft in landing).  Then, when it was securely in place, he ordered his crew to put up all the sails possible on the ship's masts, making it appear to his followers that he was trying to escape from the Italian ships.   Emboldened by his sudden apparent show of fright, they closed in and attacked, and his ship sank them, freeing him to pursue his original plans, unobserved by potential enemies.   

I often think of that example when I ponder the constant failure of wondrous plans that are dropped on the Southeast Chicago community, often without its bidding.  "We must make it appear that we care about the Southeast Chicago community and are taking sincere steps to improve its lot -- but let us not set into motion anything that might actually give them a new economic life.   We want that land."

Four years ago, I wrote an article about the Best Nest fiasco, in which I examined city involvement in the original plan, and that plan's importance, environmentally, socially, etc.  I am attaching that document, titled "Southeast Chicago's Best Nest--Just another Maltese Falcon?" because I believe that it also makes important points that I do not want to restate in this commentary.

Sincerely,

Kevin Murphy

(Following is the predecessor article, referred to in the above document):

Southeast Chicago's Best Nest--Just another Maltese Falcon

by Kevin P. Murphy

In the movie, The Maltese Falcon, detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) is asked by an associate what the nondescript metal bird that Spade is holding so firmly "is."  Spade replies, This?  This is the stuff that dreams are made of.  With that remark, he closes the coffin lid on a case that has cost more lives than are enumerated clearly in the story, all for the sake of a base metal object mistakenly believed to be made of gold, and encrusted with precious jewels camouflaged beneath a glossy black enamel coating.

Mesmerized for years by the fabulous vision of the Studio Gang-designed  "Best Nest" Ford Environmental Learning Center (FELC),  which was to have been erected on the south end of Hegewisch Marsh, on the west side of Torrence Avenue, residents of Southeast Chicago must be forgiven if their feelings of disillusionment parallel those of Maltese Falcon-seeking treasure hunter, Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), when he falls into a rage upon learning of the deceit that has been played on him and his fellow treasure-seekers.   

While it may be validly argued that the community is far more admirable than the murderous Cairo, its anguish over yet another vanquished hope for its restoration as a vital part of Chicago productivity is understandable.  

To begin with, the community did not petition the city to create such a learning center.  Rather, the city came to the community, announcing a competition for designs that would be considered for that site.

Early discussions of the FELC project were most promising.  For example, the Calumet Open Space Reserve Plan, published in December, 2005, began with this statement by Mayor Richard M. Daley:

Dear Chicagoans:

The idea for the Calumet Open Space Reserve was born out of the Calumet Area Land Use Plan, a plan for sustainable development of the land around Lake Calumet on the southeast side of Chicago. In attempting to create a plan that promoted industrial redevelopment while protecting wetlands the opportunity to create an enormous urban nature preserve emerged.

As proposed by the Calumet Area Land Use Plan and as detailed in this document, approximately 4,000 acres of the Calumet area are slated to become part of the Calumet Open Space Reserve. These lands and waters support large populations of herons, egrets and other water birds. Marshes and open lands will eventually be interconnected by hiking and biking trails. The acquisition and management of the first round of properties for the Calumet Open Space Reserve is already being undertaken by a coalition of state and local agencies.

Residents and workers in the Calumet area will benefit from daily interaction with nature, and all Chicago residents will be able to enjoy what will become the City’s largest nature reserve.

 Eventually it will be possible to bike from the Loop to the Reserve on protected trails.

Together with the City’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District and Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) established in the Calumet area to sustain and develop industry, this plan for the Calumet Open Space Reserve will help bring a bright future to Chicago’s southeast side.

Sincerely,

Richard M. Daley Mayor

That report went on to state: 

. . .The 100 acre Hegewisch Marsh, a nesting site for Illinois endangered yellow-headed blackbirds, was acquired by the City in 2003 with funds from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

 . . .(Hegewisch) marsh is a nesting site for Illinois endangered yellow-headed blackbirds. Five pairs raised their young in Hegewisch Marsh in 1999. It’s also a nesting site for the threatened pied-billed grebes and common moorhen. 

And the City of Chicago's Hegewisch Marsh Site Plan, published in  August, 2006, said--among other things--

. . . Despite the abundance of weedy plants, Hegewisch Marsh provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including the state-threatened common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and state-endangered yellow-headed blackbird(Xanthocephalusxanthocephalus).

  • Calumet Area Ecological Management Strategy (EMS) – The EMS began as an effort to synthesize the vast amount of ecological information about the Calumet region and set ecological goals. The EMS provides a framework for rehabilitating land in the Calumet region and establishes guidelines to preserve, improve, and create habitat as part of land management decisions and activities. The specific guidelines are designed to (1) preserve plant and animal habitat with high biological value; (2) improve existing habitat to maximize the potential for native diversity and ecological health; and (3) create new habitats, where feasible, that will meet the range of needs for native species and communities. Hegewisch Marsh, a natural area surrounded by industrial and residential development, is an ideal location to apply EMS guidelines in the Calumet region.

Ford Calumet Environmental Center (FCEC) – Hegewisch Marsh will be the site of the FCEC and will be a hub for environmental education, stewardship, and ecological rehabilitation in the Calumet region. The FCEC will highlight the unique habitat of Hegewisch Marsh as well as the history and industry of the surrounding community through interpretive exhibits and signage at the site. When completed, the FCEC will provide a starting point for exploring the Calumet region.

Coexistence Theme – At Hegewisch Marsh and throughout the Calumet region, nature continues to coexist with both the industrial features and the cultural aspects of the community. To achieve and promote effective coexistence, the site plan must consider and incorporate industrial, community, and natural resources as essential elements of the historical and contemporary Calumet region. Interpretive exhibits at the FCEC will be designed to emphasize and promote the theme of coexistence.

Not surprisingly, the community began to take notice.  

Having suffered decades of economic collapse, after the demise of the steel industry that had built the Southeast Chicago region into an affluent blue collar domain, the communities of Altgeld Gardens, East Side, Hegewisch, Riverdale, South Chicago, South Deering, and their many ethnically-flavored neighborhoods (like "Dago Park," Jeffrey Manor, Mann Park, Pietrowski Park, "The Bush," Trumbull Park, Veterans Memorial Park ["Vets Park"], and the like), had been subjected to economic and social shockwave after shockwave, as work diminished, and then disappeared completely, when major steel companies abandoned the region.  

Homes were lost, families traumatized--sometimes broken--and economic decay set in with a vengeance, as a once-vibrant section of Chicago became drained of major resources.  The community had become jobless, where work had once been so plentiful that one could--if fired from a job--walk out the back end of a plant, go around to the front and become a new hire, the need for employees had been so great, and the facilities so large. 

 And, then, as it all faded into history, hope became diminished, almost to the point of non-existence.

But the Southeast Chicago community had not been a steel-making community for more than a century and a half without some of the process rubbing off on -- no, really osmosing into -- the community, itself.  Deprived of its major sources of income and survival, the community, rather than emulating the vanished steel industry, did not fold its tents and silently fade away.  Instead, it resolved to survive until a time when other industries would rediscover the abundant open land left vacant by runaway steel, and also discover a case-hardened work-capable community waiting to make the new companies abundantly successful, or until the community developed itself into such a resource that outside industry became irrelevant to its survival.  

That the community has persisted, and developed itself into a determined, mutually supportive, surviving entity is testimony to the grit of its residents, and to the leadership that has emerged as needs have become visible.  But the process has been long, painful, and filled with great disappointments, largely based on promises made, but not fulfilled.

  • There was a freight airport that was to have been built on the grave of Wisconsin Steel.  
  • There were casinos that were to provide a source of new jobs for the community.  
  • There was a "green" manufacturing company that would build solar panels . . . 

And so it went, as rumors and false starts fanned hope, and then dashed it again.  But still the community persisted, helping one another, keeping hope alive, and learning, over time, to quickly spot the flimsy ideas and the insubstantial mirage industries.  

And, then, there came the Ford Calumet Environmental Center ("Best Nest") . . . and hope was given life once more, as city government and a major industrial leader allied with Federal, State and Municipal agencies to craft a major environmental learning center that would, in its creation and operation, stimulate abundant opportunities for direct employment, and for support services that would lead to further employment.   Even better, it would help Southeast Chicago to become a leader in environmental sophistication and achievement! 

From the City of Chicago's Official site (unfortunately undated):

Ford Calumet Environmental Center

     About the Ford Calumet Environmental Center

"The Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) and the State of Illinois have partnered to develop and build the Ford Calumet Environmental Center.  Its architectural significance is great.  Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, Blair Kamin recently listed the design, created by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, as one of Chicagoʼs most important structures of the 21st Century.

"The Center will serve as a centralized resource for the region, hosting researchers, industry leaders, staff and students with a capacity to house visiting scholars and experts from around the world. More than 100,000 visitors are anticipated annually to take advantage of recreational and educational activities.  It is to be located within Hegewisch Marsh, a 130-acre wetland currently undergoing ecological restoration. Hiking trails have been established, invasive species control is underway, extensive seeding of native plants has occurred and hundreds of native trees have been planted."

"The Ford Calumet Environmental Center will:

  • Create a living laboratory for environmental research and innovation and offer volunteer stewardship opportunities. Hundreds of volunteers have already pitched in to plant trees, clean up sites, monitor species, and assist scientists in the field. 
  • Establish ongoing programs and interactive exhibits. The Center will partner with Chicago Public Schools and the Field Museum to enhance programming efforts.
  • Show the value and impact of combining green technologies, strong community and industry, with architectural design. 
  • Honor the hard work and commitment of community activists who have dedicated their lives to protecting the regionʼs open spaces via oral and visual histories."

And, over the next 7 years, many in the community began to believe that the time for rebirth had finally come. 

But it was not to be, because the City, it seems, had not been honest about the project from the beginning:

". . . the city still hasn’t raised the funds it needs to build the $27 million center and is examining how to scale back its scope and cost. Trying to put the best face on the gap between aesthetic vision and financial reality, Department of Environment (DOE) Commissioner, Suzanne Malec-McKenna, said she hopes the Best Nest can go from the equivalent of a bald eagle’s large nest to one fit for a peregrine falcon—”smaller but still great.”  But her assurances haven’t eased the fears of grassroots environmental activists in Hegewisch who were stunned on March 15 when a deputy DOE commissioner reportedly warned that Gang’s design might be abandoned altogether.

"All (the failure to complete the project) reveals—surprise!--is that city officials low-balled the project’s overall cost when they announced that Gang and her firm, Studio Gang Architecture, had bested 107 entrants from nine countries in a design competition for the center."12

So it was that representatives of various City of Chicago departments began weaving a new, diminished story, in which terminology like "Best Nest" [the icon for transforming Southeast Chicago into a new and dynamic leader in environmental leadership] began to disappear from presentations while the more generic, less definitive "Ford Environmental Learning Center," (or, later, "Ford Environmental Education Center"/FEEC) became the dominant terminology.  

To those of us who are likely to become caught up in the dreams--and the work--of municipally-generated improvement plans, the "Best Nest"/Hegewisch Marsh example poses questions.

QUESTIONS:

  • What prompts a city government to take on a Rolls-Royce-equivalent project when it knows that it only has a Crosley Motor Car budget?
    • Budget ignorance/mathematical incompetence?
    • Wishful thinking?
    • Hidden agenda?
  • Why does a city that has publicly defined the parameters of acceptability for a project suddenly permit wanton violation of those parameters, to the endangerment of an allegedly precious environmental resource--in this case, Hegewisch Marsh?

Perhaps we may be forgiven for wondering how it is that the North Side of Chicago managed to acquire its North Park Nature Center, and the West Side its Chicago Center for Green Technology, a miraculous restoration, costing $9 million, and taking a full 18 months to complete?  (Hmmmmmmm-$9,000,000.00!).   But the southern part of Chicago -- an area running from Madison Street south to 138th Street -- has nothing except, of course, the most open space and green space in the city.   

So, like Joel Cairo, we may find ourselves outraged that the most promising plan in decades was a fantasy foisted on a community that deserves better treatment from its government.   Assuming that the city government had the best intentions, it should have done a much more stringent reality check on its plans from the very moment that the plan was first conceived.  The city never had the resources to bring the project to fruition -- or, given the successful Chicago Center for Green Technology example, it never had the intention to do so.

In any case, assuming honest intent, the project was driven by wishful thinking -- akin to belief in the Tooth Fairy -- and no one seems to have had the fortitude to tell the King that he was naked.

In contrast to Joel Cairo, Southeast Chicago's outrage is justified.

1 http://www.studiogang.net/

2 Early on [perhaps more recently, too?], it was called the Ford Calumet Environmental Center (FCEC).

3 Emphasis added-kpm

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12 From Cityscapes, by Blair Kamin, in The Chicago Tribune, April 15,  2011

          

ABOUT THE 2015 10TH WARD GREEN SUMMIT

(The following article appeared first in Our Neighborhood Times [ONT], March 26, 2015)

2015 8th Annual 10th Ward Green Summit - LEEDing the Way in May 

by Joann Podkul Murphy

Born 8 years ago as a simul-thought between Claretian Associates and the Calumet Stewardship Initiative, the annual 10th Ward Green Summit, held in May, celebrates our environmental assets: green buildings, gardens, and open spaces, and through its related activities, helps participants lead healthier and more productive lives. From compact energy-efficient affordable housing to LEED- (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designated multi-unit senior housing, the Ward has a variety of green buildings and those rescued from the wrecking ball for re-use. 10th Ward gardens, rescued from vacant trashed lots, and vast open public space abound.

This first of a 3-part series previews the rich story told during the summit of how and where green entered the life of a community that continues to be well-stocked with commercial buildings dating back to the early 20th century and housing dating back to the mid-to-late 19th century.

The green in the 10th Ward does not hide.  It shows up in solar panels on senior housing, in honorary plaques and in the feel of space made with recycled materials. It is also seen in the remnants of energy and housing experiments that were ahead of their time.

In an effort to provide affordable housing for community residents, Claretian Associates produced Phase 1 energy-efficient housing built with structural insulated panels and installed Energy Star appliances.  A tad small for family oriented residents, that phase was followed by two others, both with larger size, and one offering solar panels as an energy option. A walk along Buffalo Avenue north from 91st to 90th provides abundant examples.

While Casa Kirk, a Claretian affordable rental complex at 92nd and Burley has no green features, it does have a detention pond to the north of the property to provide for storm-water run-off.

Following a devastating fire several years ago, Rainbow Apparel's corporate office agreed to re-build LEED-certified with features such as recycled materials for floors and walls, and a reflective roof. 

The Big Belly solar trash compactor, at the corner of 91st and Commercial, was an experiment in living cleaner, but relied on being connected to the company's central office.

The East Side Vodak Library and the proposed Southeast Community Elementary School on Indianapolis Blvd are green in design.

The Victory Centre at 92nd and Burley is a LEED Silver facility.   The most visible features are the solar panels atop both roofs.  Solar panels also grace the retrofitted Villa Guadalupe Senior Center at 91st and Brandon. 

The LEED Gold 7th and 10th Ward Streets and Sanitation Building at 92nd and Harbor is not only energy-efficient, but was designed to produce its own electricity through the City of Chicago's first wind farm: 4 modest-sized vertical-axis wind-turbines at the back of the building.  After one of the turbines was felled during a blizzard a few years ago, the others were removed

At 86th and Green Bay, a millgate building has been retrofitted for the Lakeside Development office, a taste of what the entire development site hopes to become - totally green.

Solar Verde, a green housing venture at 96th and Marquette, had enough solar shingles on the roof of each of its two proposed models to fulfill its promise of Zero-Energy costs.  Although the two models still stand, their value was affected by the most recent economic downturn,  The 18 additional lots remain vacant.

The Velodrome bicycle racing track at 87th and Buffalo was proposed as part of a model for a larger-than-the-United-Center  - and totally green - facility at Lakeside Development.

Another proposal waiting in the wings is the Jeanne Gang design for the "Best Nest" Ford Calumet Environmental Center at Hegewisch Marsh, 134th and Torrence.  Consigned to the back-burner by the rising cost of appropriate materials for the entirely green facility, its fate is being reconsidered in a feasibility study currently being conducted by the Chicago Park District.

Evidence of re-use, another Green Summit theme, can be found in South Chicago where Claretian Associates has renovated the Burley Apartments at 91st and Burley, where Sarah Ward is transforming the former Ellis Cleaners into SkyArt at 91st and Houston, Father Wolf Werling is turning a former family residence into a youth hostel at 83rd and Commercial, and Adrian Cardoso of A-Metal Scrap Inc., now recycles in a space once occupied by a fish-house at 93rd and Baltimore.

Need help finding green locations throughout the 10th Ward? Watch for Green Summit logos posted on sites starting in late April.

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(Part 2 in this series on the 10th Ward Green Summit covers not only lovely-to-look at  gardens and green open space but places to fish, swim, sail, kayak, canoe, bike, hike and be awed.)


(The following article appeared first in Our Neighborhood Times [ONT], April 28, 2015)

Part 2:  2015 8th Annual 10th Ward Green Summit celebrates open space and gardens

by Joann Podkul Murphy   

May's annual 10th Ward, and beyond, Green Summit celebrates green buildings, the area's open space and green gardens, all identifiable by the Green Summit logos at each site.

Before becoming a cauldron for steel production, Chicago's Southeast Side was a sportsmen's paradise for fishing and hunting.  Although steel-making has largely disappeared from the area, its natural assets continue to draw people to its resources: Lake Michigan, Wolf Lake, Powderhorn Lake, Lake Calumet, the Calumet River and a variety of ponds and marshes, as well as parkland and forest preserves. 

Wade through the thousands of other people at Calumet Park on a summer weekend, look east from the Beach House at 100th Street across the lake's southern shoreline and you may see as far as Inland Steel in East Chicago or the cooling tower in Michigan City, about 50 miles away.  What you don't see is the 300+ miles of lake stretching to the north, that touches Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Whether you swim, fish, boat, jet ski, or build sand castles, this gift of the glacier is to be enjoyed. 

Wolf Lake, accessed on the Illinois side off Avenue O between 124th and 128th, has long been known for fishing and boating. Catch it on the Indiana side and you will find one of the world's best sites for windsurfing.  At various times during the warmer months, ILDNR and AWLI offer free kite-flying, canoeing and kayaking events.

Man-made Powderhorn Lake, accessed off Brainerd Avenue at 138th Street offers fishing, boating, and osprey watching. With luck, you will be there on one of the Saturdays when the Cook County Forest Preserves offers rope-climbing on trees, zip-line training and kayaking.  Walk the trails of adjacent Powderhorn Prairie and be astounded by the variety of wild flowers including a most unusual find, the prickly pear cactus.

Lake Calumet is currently on the verge of public access and the Calumet River itself may have a river walk.

Area Forest Preserves/Parklands offer a unique variety of features.

At 87th and the Lake, the Steelworkers Monument will be the beacon connecting past with present while the Steelworkers Memorial Park at that site now provides area residents with a window on the lake.

Eggers Grove Woods at 112th and Avenue E is pristine, never industrial.  Beautiful any time of year, in early Spring, its forest floor is covered with May Apples and an occasional Jack in the Pulpit, all found close to the newly refurbished gatekeeper' s house

William Powers Conservation Area, 126th and Avenue O, houses tributes to the former Nike missile site and to WWII veterans organizations, as well as a new Visitors Center.

Hegewisch Marsh, 130th and Torrence, stretches out to the Calumet River and retains the hope that Jeanne Gang's state-of-the-art "Best Nest" Ford Calumet Environmental Center will be built there.

Indian Ridge Marsh, 122nd and Torrence, where a fictional villain in Kevin Murphy's mystery, "Out of Order," hopes he has successfully disposed of a weapon, has been newly restored.

Heron Pond, 122nd west of Indian Marsh hosts herons, egrets and other water birds. 

Dead Stick Pond at 122nd and Stony Island is a noted bird sanctuary and site of Sara Paretsky's detective, V. I. Warshawski's, dramatic escape from a villain's trap.

Big Marsh, at 116th and Stony Island, is now Chicago Park District space and awaiting the development of a promised mountain bike trail.

Marian Byrnes/Van Vlissingen Nature Area, 103rd and Van Vlissingen, honors the area's tireless environmentalist and offers soon to be developed hiking trails.

The Burnham Greenway, starting at 104th and Indianapolis, can be biked, hiked or skated to 112th, where you can turn left and head east to the Indiana side of Wolf Lake, or continue south along the greenway to the Illinois side at Wolf Lake. Either route will take you through Bean's Park at 108th to see what a retired man with a heart condition did to transform an old rail line. The arboretum along this route was developed by John Pastirik honoring those dear to him and the numerous environmentalists who have influenced the conservation efforts in our area.

   The facilities described above are operated by state/county/municipal agencies: CPD, CCFP, IDNR, etc.  The following garden sites have been created from formerly trashed-filled vacant lots by community people with training and support from GreenCorps, NeighborSpace, OpenLands, the Master Gardener Program, TreeKeepers, and in some cases, the Chicago Conservation Corps. Gardens provide residents with gardening skills and fresh produce, as well as oases in the urban setting.     

  • South Chicago People's Park, 9100 S. Buffalo
  • Buffalo Senior Citizens, 8250 S. Buffalo
  • Bush Homeowners and Tenants Garden 8457-59 S. Buffalo
  • Artists Garden 8951 S. Brandon
  • Bowen High School, 2710 East 89th Street, a series of GreenCorps gardens  
  • Victory Garden, 8935 Exchange
  • 8805 S. Exchange Block Club Garden  
  • Dorothy Schafer Park, 89th  and 90th and  S. Mackinaw: half recreational and half community gardening training.

   

If we envision a Calumet Region National Heritage Corridor, running from the Indiana Dunes on the east, through the Calumet Region, and ending at the Field Museum, our region offers an incredible array of natural resources and man-made gardens to delight anyone passing through.      

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© Kevin Murphy 2016