Health & Environment Articles & Post

Friend of the Park Newsletter on The Southeast Side March 2021.

Sat, Mar 6 at 11:01 AM
March 6, 2021
Dear friend of the parks,
A huge thanks to our friends of the parks who joined us last Saturday on our Toxic Tour Car Caravan of Rowan Park, Calumet Park, Schafer Park and Steelworkers Park!
The caravan leaves Calumet Park and heads for Schafer Park, photographed by Charlie Billups
It was an absolutely beautiful day to inspire, equip, and mobilize our friends of the parks to raise our awareness of the geography on the Southeast Side, and gain a deeper understanding of the environmental injustices that our friends on the Southeast Side face daily.
We started at Rowan Park and were received by Mila Marshall of Environmentalists of Color. Mila spoke to us about the community’s hard-fought battle against General Iron/RMG and the reasons it led to a month-long hunger strike to #DenyThePermit that would allow the metal shredding facility to move into the 10th Ward, across the street from the Rowan Park and George Washington High School.
FOTP board member, Sylvia Jones, and her husband, photographed by Charlie Billups
While at Rowan Park, in view of the proposed General Iron/RMG site across the street, we watched an interview with one of the Southeast Side hunger strikers, Yesenia Chavez, conducted by FOTP Director of Environmental Education and Engagement Andrea Dennis. Yesenia walked us through her experiences growing up in South Chicago and how that shaped her understanding of environmental racism. She also talked about how much she loves Calumet Park! To checkout the interview with Yesenia, click here.
At Calumet Park, our very own former board member, Paul Boyd, aka Daniel Burnham, delivered a message that his vision for Chicago’s “open, clear and free” lakefront never included a Confined Disposal Facility pollution dump right between Calumet and Steelworkers Park, and we have to fight to stop the attempted CDF expansion! Plus, he pointed out the inequities of the City’s heavy investment in parks that serve downtown and tourist purposes while leaving the Southeast Side lakefront incomplete.
Former board member, Paul Boyd aka Daniel Burnham at Calumet Park, photographed by Charlie Billips
We had a special treat at Schafer Park, home of the Urban Growers Collective (UGC), where we drove through the South Chicago Farm to get a closer look at all the great urban agriculture work that they do in the midst of pollution challenges. We even got a sneak peak of the goats!!
Heading into the UGC Farm, photographed by Charlie Billups
Malcolm Evans from UGC gives us a socially-distanced tour of the farm, photographed by Juanita Irizarry
We wrapped up our Toxic Tour Car Caravan at Steelworkers Park with a presentation by Amalia NietoGomez of the Alliance of the SouthEast, who spoke to us about their coalition’s stances against General Iron and the CDF pollution dump, and why remediation of the old SouthWorks site is essential to moving towards comprehensive redevelopment including green space and green jobs for the community. Some of us got to chat in person afterwards with Roman Villareal, the sculptor of the statue at Steelworkers Park. And few got a glimpse of a bald eagle that was hanging out in the area.
What a wonderful day it was!
FOTP board member Nancy Juda, and her husband, and friends, photographed by Charlie Billups
As FOTP board member and member of the Jackson Park Highlands Association board, Charlie Barlow expressed after the tour: “The site visits were so helpful to bring life to the stories and experiences of the expert guest speakers, and getting to see, from a distance, my neighbors, friends, and FOTP colleagues was such a treat. I learned so much about a neighborhood just 15 minutes from my home, and felt a great deal of pride to be involved with FOTP.”
Special thanks to Charlie Billups, FOTP board member and lifestyle photographer, who was able to capture the day through his lens and brought his family along to raise up the next generation of “parktivists”! Click here to check out his photos from the caravan.
We look forward to continuing to engage with our friends of the parks to provide opportunities to get better acquainted with the environmental challenges that threaten Chicago’s parks.
In unity,
Abigail Johnston
Policy and Communications Associate
P.S A few more photos of the day featuring our friends of the parks, taken by Juanita Irizarry:
Troy McMillan, long-time FOTP board member with her grandson at Steelworkers Park.
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Debra Shore joined us for the tour.
UGC director, Erika Allen, and staff welcomed us to the South Chicago Farm.
Charlie Barlow, FOTP board member with his partner and dog on the tour.
Friends of the Parks

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