Arborist trainees plant trees at Chicago elementary school

By Carlyn Kranking Medill Reports Malika Jackson, special programs coordinator at Dixon Elementary School, wanted her students to experience nature’s beauty in the schoolyard, so she applied for a grant to have trees planted there. Chicagoans can apply for a TreePlanters Grant through the nonprofit Openlands. In a non-pandemic world, applicants would bring their community […]

Don’t blame the bats: Human activities increase pandemic risk

Grey-headed flying fox bats

By Carlyn Kranking Medill Reports Some of the largest pandemics in history, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola and COVID-19, started in animals and then passed to humans. For the last century, about two viruses per year have passed, or “spilled over,” from animals to people. These diseases are known as “zoonotic.” But just because they come from […]

Chicago urban growers fight for affordable and equitable water access

Gina Jamison, owner of Kuumba Tre-Ahm garden

By Caroline Catherman and Carlyn Kranking Medill Reports Urban farms and community gardens in Chicago produce over 500,000 pounds of crops in a year, according to a 2015 study by DePaul University and NeighborSpace. Much of this food helps feed Chicago communities. Local food sources are especially crucial in a pandemic. When food has to […]

Scientists look to remove CO2 from atmosphere by accelerating natural Earth processes

Trees and other plants in Illinois

By Carlyn Kranking Medill Reports To control Earth’s mounting climate emissions, we really have our work cut out for us. First, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to nearly zero by 2050 to prevent massive sea level rise, drought and heat waves. But that isn’t enough, since already-emitted carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for […]

Cook County ecologist protects natural areas for every generation

Kristin Pink, an ecologist for the Cook County Forest Preserve, reaches for oak leaves on the ground in Spears Woods.

By Carlyn Kranking Medill Reports Kristin Pink remembers coming to Spears Woods as a child, walking the paths with her sled in the winter. She knew what time of year the lily pads on the wetland bloomed and visited the woods to look at them. Now, she walks the same paths with her red Cook […]

Neighbor Loaves program protects every stage of grain production amid pandemic

Faith Albano reaches into the back seat of her car to take out bags of bread donations from Hewn and load them into the Hillside Food Pantry.

By Carlyn Kranking Medill Reports On March 16, Hewn bakery in Evanston had 65 wholesale customers. The next day, it had only four. As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, shutting down businesses and driving customers indoors, the Midwest’s grain supply chain strained under the pressure. At Hewn, the resulting loss of wholesale customers, […]

Chicago housing activists help tenants prepare for winter amid the pandemic

Activist John Hieronymus marched for tenants' rights with a bullhorn in one hand and a banner in another that read, “eviction is death.”

By Courtney Kueppers Medill Reports Yvonne Williams went to Hyde Park for a Saturday afternoon lunch, but she left with much more. The 48-year-old mother of four is out of work and said her landlord is threatening to evict her from her South Shore apartment, despite the statewide eviction moratorium that’s been in place since […]