Nature | Nature Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Building Green Spaces

The Chicago Park District experiments with culturally informed collaborative park programming

Natalie Friedberg

Traveling north on the Lakeshore Trail, you may have noticed that at around 33rd Street the manicured lawn of the surrounding grass shifts to prairie grasses and shrubs. This marks one of the borders of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, one of the Chicago Park District’s designated natural areas.

Nature | Nature Issue 2017

Sun, Sand, and… Something Else

E. coli contamination concentrates at some South Side beaches

Rainbow Beach (Steven Kevil)

Here’s another reason to use a pooper scooper—when fecal matter from dogs, birds, and other animals flows toward Lake Michigan, waters at the shore can become contaminated with E. coli bacteria, putting a damper on even the sunniest beach day. Seven of the ten most contaminated Chicago beaches are on the South Side, eleven years of recently released data from the Chicago Park District show. According to analysis by OpenCity software engineer Scott Beslow, some beaches in particular—63rd Street Beach, Rainbow Beach at 79th Street, and Calumet Beach—stand out, with over twenty percent of the samples taken at each beach exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) contamination standard for safe swimming water.

Lit | Nature | Nature Issue 2017

A Complicated Wild

A collection of essays that highlight humans’ inextricable link to nature

Wildness: Relations of People & Place is a rare bird. It’s a collection bound not by genre or intended audience, but by a singular theme: that “human and wild communities are entangled, and can work toward collective health and self-renewal.” And so, across four parts and two-dozen essays, editors Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer recast mankind as a part of nature, one of many species, hitched to everything else in the universe.

Nature | Nature Issue 2017

A Community of Flowers

The Sunflower Project teaches “beauty, purpose, and art” one mammoth sunflower at a time

Thea Michele Smith

A sunflower begins as a seed. It is a compact, quickly forgotten speck resting in the palm of a hand. But let that seed drop into soil and provide it with water, and it will shed its coating and sprout a stem, leaves, and eventually, flower. For Kathy Fitzgerald and Rita Alvarez, this is how their organization, the Sunflower Project, began: from a small idea and a big passion.

Lit | Nature

The Full Range of Beauty

Pullmanite Arthur Melville Pearson on George Fell and Illinois conservation history

When it comes to the telling of a life, there are things that our surroundings know more than we will ever do. Arthur Melville Pearson, a conservationist, pays clear attention to this in Force of Nature, his biography about George Fell, the founder of the natural areas movement. This post-World War II movement initiated enhanced communication and collaboration among people concerned with the protection and study of natural areas and natural diversity. Through Pearson’s attention to place, the story of this obscure conservationist figure is told with the conviction that the inextricable force of nature drove all of his endeavors.

Nature | Stage & Screen

Green Thumbs and Concrete Steps

One Earth Film Festival hosts environmental films, dialogues across Chicago

WYCC PBS Chicago + Juneteenth Productions / Vimeo

One Earth Film Festival, Chicago’s premier environmental movie festival, put on its sixth run earlier this month, from March 3 to March 12. Aiming to raise awareness and facilitate dialogue about environmental issues and protections, One Earth screens films and hosts post-screening discussions for free. This year, they put on forty-seven showings of thirty films in thirty-nine locations throughout the Chicagoland area. The Weekly sent writers to three of these: Can You Dig This?, NaturePlay, and Chicago’s True Nature.

Art | Nature | Science

From Gizzard to Garden

Andrew Yang creates art with seeds from birds that meet an untimely fate

"Two Vehicles" by Andrew Yang (2016)

The Pheidole morrisi is a species of ant whose existence in New York’s Long Island tends to be confined to the area under power lines. The limitation of this animal life to fragments of land that happen to be spared death-by-concrete struck Andrew Yang, an associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), as quite poignant. In urban environments, we now look for and find wildness only in spaces that have been specifically designated for nonhuman purposes.

Food | Interviews | Nature | Politics

Breaking Ground

Carol Moseley Braun on working the Senate and the soil

Courtney Kendrick

Carol Moseley Braun was the first African-American woman appointed to the Senate, representing Illinois as a Democrat from 1993 to 1999. After a thirty-year career in politics and public service, serving, among other positions, as the Ambassador to New Zealand, Moseley Braun turned to the private sector. She founded her own USDA-certified organic and biodynamic company called Good Food Organics in 2002 and under its umbrella sells Ambassador Organics, a line of food products which currently includes teas, coffee, cocoa, and olive oil. Biodynamics is a holistic agricultural approach that involves crop diversification, the maintenance of on-farm biodiversity preserves such as marshes and forests, and the avoidance of chemicals and off-farm products. For Moseley Braun, biodynamics is a way “to heal our bodies and our farmland.” She grew up between Bronzeville, Park Manor, and Chatham, and currently resides in Hyde Park.


Nature Issue

Zelda Galewsky

Divvy for Everyone?Recent data shows that South Siders are still underserved by Divvy’s network By Max Bloom
Capturing Calumet: A rare glimpse of Chicago’s other lakeBy Grace Hauck
A Tale of Two Trails: What do bicycle and nature trails have to do with gentrification?By Darren Wan
I Smell a Rat: The city’s losing battle against a rodent invasionBy Jake Bittle and Emily Lipstein
Behind the Fence: Jackson Park’s Wooded Island will be under construction for the next five years. The Weekly took a look at what’s ahead | By Michelle Gan
A Dog Meet Dog WorldThe story behind the “pup paradise” in Jackson ParkBy Emeline Posner
Find, Remove, RepeatThe campaign to rid Pilsen of lead contaminationBy Anne Li
Stories from WCIU: Week of May 23rd, 2016By Grace
How to Gamble and Win : Al Klinger celebrates his 90th birthday party with all of Hyde ParkBy Bridget Gamble
A Hilarious Comedy, an Intricate Drama : One Man, Two Guvnors” at Court TheatreBy Lily Zhou