It’s an unusual election year for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). Normally, every two years, three of the nine seats on the district’s board of commissioners go up for election. Each seat has a six-year term. The idea is to stagger board turnover, so that from election year to election year, two-thirds of the board remains consistent.
A fourth-generation resident of Clear-Ridge (as Clearing and Garfield Ridge are most often referred to by residents), Rob Bitunjac is the manager of the Clearing Public Library and the president of the Clear-Ridge Historical Society.
For the first time since 1981, the Illinois International Port District (IIPD) is undertaking extensive repairs and construction in the southernmost part of its 1500-acre property on the Southeast Side.
Down the Calumet River from a former petcoke storage site, several acres of early growth trees rustle gently in the breeze. It’s one of a few areas with sustained natural growth on the northern part of the river, which snakes through the Southeast Side’s industrial corridor. Tom Shepherd, an environmental activist and longtime Southeast Side resident—and, on a recent overcast morning, the guide of a boat tour down the river—singles that parcel out as we pass by. “It’s really amazing on that property to see how nature makes its comeback,” he says.
After several years of one-off events, Chicago finally has a hot sauce festival that’s promising to stick around. At the First Annual Chi-Town Hot Sauce Expo last weekend—the latest addition to an expo circuit that already includes Portland, Anaheim, and New York City—thirty-three hot sauce vendors convened in the parking lot of Toyota Park, just southwest of the city limits, to show off their finest and spiciest.
When L. Anton Seals, Jr. was growing up in South Shore, he and his family would often spend weekend nights camped out in Chicago’s public parks. Back then, he said, his family and friends took the Chicago Park District’s 11pm closing time as a suggestion, not a rule: “[We were like], how the park gon’ close at 11 o’clock?… Who gives you the right to close the earth?”
The largest and greatest sludge plant in the world… wasn’t intended to be that way,” Richard Lanyon, former executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), said to a rapt audience, a playful smile spreading across his face. “It just happened.”
For D’onminique Boyd, it was the 65th Street Community Garden that turned Woodlawn into a home. She had moved there in 2011, and had taken to biking around to familiarize herself with the neighborhood. One morning, she biked by the garden and saw Tony Samford, 65th Street’s “godfather of gardening,” as she would later come to call him, tending to his plot. She asked what he was growing; he told her to come back the next day at 6am, and he would teach her.