All posts by jimdistasio

The era of big seaweed is upon us

 

Marine researcher Loretta Roberson believes rethinking how we grow seaweed has the potential to clean up oceans, replace fossil fuels and protect coastlines from violent weather. She’s headed to Puerto Rico early this year to put her theories to the test.

 

By Rebecca Fanning
Medill Reports

On the southern coast of Puerto Rico, there’s a place where abandoned sugar plantations dot the shoreline, residents of illegal homes dump waste directly into the ocean and blooms of green algae rise to the surface, a visual reminder of the water pollution that’s present here. Known to many as one of the island’s largest estuaries, Jobos Bay is framed by two major power plants and several economically depressed towns. It’s also the site of the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a federally protected area recognized for its seagrass beds, coral reefs and mangroves.

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The River Whisperer

 

The co-director of the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise dishes on the waterway’s history, its recent transformation and the ‘craziest thing’ he’s ever seen while hosting a tour.

 

By Emily Clemons
Medill Reports

Chicago offers plenty of activities for visiting tourists and adventurous locals alike – ghost tours, gangster history jaunts and more dazzle spectators while perpetuating the urban legends of the Windy City.

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One man working to separate myth from reality is Tom Carmichael, co-director of the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise Aboard Chicago’s First Lady. Since joining the foundation in 2007 and becoming a tour director in 2009, Carmichael has been witness to the Chicago River’s transformation and ever-developing history, and has introduced thousands of tourists to the buildings along the river’s banks.

Carmichael spoke with Medill Reports about his 10 years volunteering with the Foundation, and how not even a body in the river will get in the way of a quality cruise.
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The Cretaceous Shuffle

After 17 years front-and-center, the Field Museum’s toothy crown jewel Sue is moving upstairs to make way for an even larger predator.

By Adam Cohen
Medill Reports

Almost 67 million years after her death, the world’s most famous dinosaur named Sue is moving once again. In February, the Field Museum’s iconic Tyrannosaurus rex will be taken down from her prominent perch in Stanley Field Hall and moved to a new exhibit on the institution’s second floor. In Sue’s place will go an arguably even more awe-inspiring specimen – a cast of Patagotitan mayorum.

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Fighting the war against phosphorous

Almost a year after the settlement between environmental groups and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, progress is inching forward in reducing dangerous levels of phosphorous in the Chicago River.

By Morgan Levey
Medill Reports

It’s common knowledge amongst environmentalists that phosphorus is a harmful nutrient in bodies of water, making them uninhabitable for marine life by spurring algae growth and choking oxygen levels. It’s particularly destructive in waterways that flow out of cities, where highly polluted effluent spreads downstream, contaminating tributaries and entering larger bodies of water.

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Chicago sits nearly 800 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico, yet phosphorus from the Chicago River has a damaging reach and historically has been the single largest contributor to what scientists call the “dead zone,” an area in the Gulf roughly the size of New Jersey where fish can’t survive. And closer to home, phosphorous has been detrimental to the water quality of the lower Des Plaines and Illinois rivers.

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Last dance in the Big Easy

The new ‘funkumentary,’ Do U Want It?, is director Josh Freund’s cinematic love letter to the band Papa Grows Funk and the New Orleans music scene.

By Morgan Levey
Medill Reports

For 90 minutes on a winter evening a vortex opened in Chicago’s Davis Theater and the crowd was transported down south, to the land of crawfish boils and funk music. Do U Want It?, a feature-length documentary about the former New Orleans-based band Papa Grows Funk, made its Chicago debut as part of the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival. Billed as a “funkumentary,” the film examines the joy of making music in New Orleans, but the hardship of making it big anywhere else.

Medill Reports sat down with Josh Freund, one of the film’s co-directors and a Medill alum (BSJ 2012), after the movie’s screening.

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