The raised plant beds that dot the wood chip-covered pathways of Pilsen’s El Paseo Community Garden begin sprouting vegetation in early spring.. These community and volunteer-run growing stations are not merely an aesthetic choice but a necessity.
Years of lead smelting and other industrial usage has left the soil of the Sangamon Corridor – a section of land running south from 16th Street along Sangamon Street to 21st – inundated with various heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. The El Paseo garden’s use of raised beds responds to their proximity along the corridor and prevents the leaching of toxins from the soil to the growing vegetation.
“That’s why we have raised beds,” said Antonio Acevedo, community garden co-director. “There are some areas that did not have to be remediated, since they were below the EPA’s safety levels. However, we take safety precautions like using agricultural cloth barriers, wood chips and raised beds with fresh soil for edible plants and food. There is no danger with the food grown. The possible danger is if the soil in the ground is disturbed (in the unremediated areas) and ingested”
BNSF railway no longer utilizes the tracks along its Sangamon right-of-way; Loewenthal Metals Corporation had ceased lead and zinc smelting at their former industrial site on Cullerton Street in the 1950’s before a fire razed the facility. Land restoration gained little attention in Pilsen until 2016 when the city broke ground on the El Paseo Trail, a bike path that would lead from Pilsen to Little Village along the abandoned BNSF right-of-way which the railroad still owns.
Going Green Matters, will feature more than 100 eco-friendly vendors this Sunday, offering everything from solar power to pedal power. Wilmette’s annual environmental fair has been showcasing clean energy solutions and technologies to Chicago area residents for 12 years.
The fair, co-sponsored by Go Green Wilmette and the Village of Wilmette, opens at the Michigan Shores Club this year and gives visitors one-stop shopping on how to introduce new sustainability practices into their everyday lives.
This year’s fair takes a special focus on solar.
“We want to get solar installed as cost-effectively as possible,” said Jack Ailey, co-owner of Ailey Solar. “We do it for environmental reasons and to be fair to our workers.”
You can meet these 10 vendors among dozens of others at this year’s Going Green Matters.
Demands for rent control and affordable housing took center stage, Monday, in the St. Pius V Church basement, as residents of Pilsen and Little Village rose one by one to voice concerns at Pilsen’s Community Town Hall on Rent Control and Property Taxes.
The Town Hall, conducted both in Spanish and English, focused on lifting the statewide ban on rent controls as residents fight to stay in their homes. The presence of State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss (D-9) and State Representative Theresa Mah (D-2), co-sponsors of SB2310, Repeals the Rent Control Preemptive Act bill, gave community members the opportunity to meet with their elected officials.
Pilsen and Little Village community members line up before the Town Hall meeting that focused on lifting the rent control ban. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Rosa Esquivel, a Pilsen Alliance Board Member, welcomed the crowd.(Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
“One of the reasons that working and middle class families are being priced out of their homes is because the assessments of those properties are unfair,” Abdelnasser Rashid, of Our Revolution Illinois, said. “The homes of working and middle class families are being overvalued – some people pay more than they should, some people pay less than they should. It’s unprofessional and it is going beyond industry standards.” (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
“We can bring rent control to this city. we can bring a policy that’s been passed in cities across this country that is working to keep families in their homes,” said Jawanza Malone of the Lift the Ban Coalition, igniting a room full of cheers and applause. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
“I introduced the [Lift the Ban Bill] and I looked at my watch,” State Senator Daniel Biss said. “It wasn’t long before I got a phone call from the head lobbyist from the realtors. And he sounded nervous. He said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ and I said, ‘Oh, yes. Oh, I’m sure.'” (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
“I’ve been working really hard to come up with other pieces of legislation that are immigrant friendly and tenant friendly,” said State Representative Theresa Mah (D-2). “One of the bills that I just filed last Friday is an immigrant tenant protection act, which will prevent landlords from using information about anyone’s citizenship status against them. I hope that will move through the legislature this session.” (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Town Hall attendees applaud commuinity member testimonials and Lift the Ban Bill support from State Senator Daniel Biss and State Representative Theresa Mah. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Rebecca Kim and Isaac Carrasco, from DePaul University, laid out the impact of gentrification and proposed solutions in a presentation at the Town Hall forum. “With the power of organizing, we can be heard,” Kim said. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Resident Al DiFranco addresses his concerns about property tax increases in Chinatown, Bridgeport, Canaryville and Pilsen. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Simone Alexander, a resident of Little Village explains how rent control legislation can ultimately support long-standing property and homeowners despite rising property taxes. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
PHOENIX, Ariz. – A chorus of voices and the echo of drums engulfed the sunbathed amphitheater at the Heard Museum this month as dancers from American Indian and Canadian First Nations gathered for the 28th Annual World Championship Hoop Dancing Contest.
The dances emerged from tribal healing ceremonies. Now, hoop dancing has grown from its traditional roots into a broader and more public celebration. Individual dancers manipulate colorful hoops with their bodies – often transforming as few as four to as many as 50 hoops into designs coordinated with intricate footwork set to the rhythm of drums and voices. Judges calculate scores based on precision, timing, showmanship, creativity and speed.
Participants in every division – Tiny-Tot, Youth, Teen, Adult and Senior – participate in the Grand Entry to commence the 28th Annual World Championship Hoop Dancing Contest at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Competitors from 36 American Indian and Canadian First Nations gathered for this year’s contest. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Competitors in the Tiny-Tot division all danced together. The youngest participant was 1 years old. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Members of the Southern Drum provide the rhythm, singing and accompaniment for the dancers at this year’s contest. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Apaolo Benally, of the Diné (Navajo) Tribe, takes some time on the grassy knoll to prepare for his hoop dancing routine. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Some 5,000 people attended the two-day competition on Feb. 9 and 10. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Kwan Jemu Lopez, of the Pojoaque Pueblo Tribe, mingles with Ella Bearsheart, of the Sioux Tribe, on the contest sidelines. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Reigning Youth Division champion, Kailayne Jensen of the Navajo and Maricopa Tribes, dances her routine. Kailayne successfully defended her title in this year’s competition. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Apaolo Benally executes his routine before a crowded field of spectators. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Rito Lopez Jr., of the Pima, Apache, Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa tribes works numerous hoops into his routine. Hoop Dancers use as few as four to as many as 50 hoops for their dances. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Rito Lopez Jr. walks out of the competition ring following his routine. He earned second place in the Youth Division. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Jolene Vigio, director of the Pojoaque Pueblo dancers, brought 10 tribal youth to compete in this year’s competition. They first began competing in 2013 and their members start dancing at five or six years old. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Mersais Sanchez, one of the 10 dancers from the Pojoaque Pueblo Tribe, races the clock as she executes her routine. Judges calculate their scores based on precision, timing, showpersonship, creativity and speed. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Aubrianna Talachy of the Pojoaque Pueblo tribe leaps into a backflip during her hoop dance routine. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Loud applause greets the finale of Talachy’s routine. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)
Traffic along Western Avenue south of the Loop is often congested. Yet a reprieve from the pandemonium of horns and speeding cars can be found at the corner of Western Avenue and 24th Place, amid a dense forest of refurbished bicycles, at Working Bikes bike shop.
Working Bikes is more than just a used bike shop offering rebuilt cycles and spare parts at affordable prices. Sales only make up a fraction of the not-for-profit’s operation, as volunteers stockpile abandoned and donated bikes and refurbish them for donation programs locally in Chicago and globally from Africa to Latin America.