Three Plots Still Available in RU Community Garden at Schaumburg Campus

RUrbanPioneers Community Garden at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus, Summer 2013 (M. Radeck)

Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus Community Garden is one of the origin sites for our university’s sustainability movement, and is a thriving hub of gardening innovation and community building. Right now, three 5×5 plots are still available for this year’s growing season. The only cost associated with joining the Community Garden would be for the materials that you personally purchase for your garden plot (seeds, soil amendment, etc.).

With the gardening season now moving into high gear, the time is ripe to claim a plot! If you are interested, please reach out to Rebecca Quesnell, Sustainable Operations Coordinator, Dept. of Physical Resources ( Plots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Posted in activities, agriculture, news, Roosevelt, suburbs | Leave a comment

SUST 320 Walking Tour of the Cabrini-Green/Near North Neighborhood

Post by Maria Cancilla, SUST major

On April 14, 2016, Professor Pickren led his SUST 320 – Sprawl, Transport and Planning students through the Cabrini-Green/Near North Neighborhood on a walking tour. We did some reading about the infamous housing projects, located a stone’s throw from Chicago’s wealthy Gold Coast neighborhood. So we wanted to see, up close, what’s become of the 70 acres upon which this housing development once stood.

In the Shadows of the Gold Coast

In the shadows of the Gold Coast

We knew that all of the high-rise buildings (Also known as “The Reds” and “The Whites”) were torn down between the mid-1990’s and 2011. Only the original Frances Cabrini row houses remain today – some still inhabited; some fenced-off with an un-known fate.

Cabrini Row Houses2.jpg

Most of the Francis Cabrini rowhouses are boarded up

We started our tour on Hudson at Chicago Avenue, where Chicago Lights Urban Farm is located, and worked our way north to North Avenue and Clybourn.

Chicago Lights Urban Farm2

From this student’s point of view, our visit to this storied neighborhood was a bit surreal. I have been programmed to not walk through this neighborhood. I remember a time when you wouldn’t dare to even drive through this neighborhood – In the late 1980s and early 1990s when I worked in the Gold Coast; in the late 1990s when I took dance classes in both the Gold Coast and Old Town; in 2010-11 when I worked for Groupon; in 2012 when I visited and worked on the Chicago Lights Urban Farm with RU’s SUST 350 Service Learning course (Professor Bryson, spring, 2012) – In ALL of these instances, I would skirt this neighborhood. Never. Not once. Did I walk through it. Until that warm day in April, when our class walked through it together. It was somehow even more surreal on such a bright and beautiful spring day. It seemed so calm.

Cabrini Open Row Houses

Homes along Cambridge Avenue are the only remaining active portion of the Francis Cabrini rowhomes

One of our SUST 350 – Service Learning class activities was to take a driving tour through this neighborhood. Natasha Holbert, the farm director at Chicago Lights Urban Farm, explained some of the challenges of living in the neighborhood since the last towers came down. These are things that you can’t see when just passing through. She said that the Division Street gang divide was still very real in 2012. It was creating food deserts for people who were able to stay in the neighborhood, but still had family members with gang affiliations – even if the ties were a generation or two removed. At that time, both of the neighborhood’s large grocery stores were on the north side of Division, and some families did not feel safe crossing that street to shop for food. Holbert also mentioned that the neighborhood’s school, Edward Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts presented similar problems of gang line crossings, which either kept kids from attending school, or kept parents from walking their young children to school. About the school specifically, Holbert noted that Jenner was touted as a performing arts school, yet it had no auditorium. Was this due to lack of funds? Lack of planning? Lack of caring? Hard to say. But it doesn’t make much sense. These are some of the issues that were on my mind as we walked through this neighborhood. I was wondering if these were still concerns four years later.

Jenner School

Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts

I was also hearing the harmonies of the musical group, “The Impressions” in my head as we walked by the honorary Curtis Mayfield street signs:

“It’s Alright”

“People Get Ready”

“Keep on Pushing”

“Meeting Over Yonder”


Mayfield Sign

Of course, Mayfield had some harsher songs like “Freddie’s Dead” and “Pusher Man” later on. But I was thinking mostly of hope, inspiration and inclusivity on this bright spring day.

Finally, I keep thinking about what a neighborhood feels like, and how it didn’t feel like a neighborhood as we walked. To me, a neighborhood has special or interesting places to meet or congregate. Or just places to sit and watch the world go by. I don’t remember any front stoops, porches or benches. We saw so much development happening in the Near North, but all of the development looks to be towers. Is this by design? It seems that this is supposed to be a place to live – but only to stay inside – or just pass through. Where are the gathering places?

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Following Our Waste and Water Streams: SUST Senior Cassidy Avent Reflects on Her Summer 2015 Internship with SCARCE

This guest post is by RU senior Cassidy Avent, a SUST major who interned during the Summer 2015 semester at the non-profit organization, SCARCE (School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education), based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  Here is the last of Cassidy’s essays this spring, as she reflects back on her work as an environmental educator to young people across the DuPage County area

Making Super Crayons at SCARCE

Repurposing school supplies at SCARCE

Over the summer of 2015, I worked as an intern at the non-profit organization, School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE), which was founded by Kay McKeen 25 years ago in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The SCARCE team has a mission to spread environmental awareness through education to the community members of DuPage County and to people around the world.

As an intern, my responsibilities varied with the changing months. Much of my time was spent inside the SCARCE office, where I would do research for Kay or help prepare for community and school events. Other days we would give on-site presentations at local schools and at community events. Also, there were two weeks during my internship at SCARCE in which Kay McKeen and Steve Kenny taught two different teacher workshops.

A city garbage truck makes collection. Changes are coming to Chicago's waste management system.

A city garbage truck makes collection.

In the first workshop, called “Where is Away?”, Kay and Steve discussed what happens to our waste when we dispose of it. Every day that week we went to various facilities in the DuPage County area where we learned about what happens to our refuse, recyclables, and sewage waste. One of the most interesting places we toured was a landfill, which definitely smells worse than one would imagine! Regardless of the sour air at the drop off location, I found it very important to actually see that when we throw away something, it does not just disappear.

This workshop made me realize that even though the waste produced by residential communities is far less than that of industrial or commercial institutions, consumers are still responsible for understanding that a lot of our waste is composed of resources that can be used again or recycled into another form. As for the waste that cannot be reused or recycled, it is important that we know this will all end up in a landfill and remain there for a very, very long time.

The second workshop Kay and Steve taught, “Living Water”, discussed the importance of keeping our water clean and healthy because there will never be “new” water. Like the previous week, we travelled to various places that showed us how our water is cleaned, treated, and maintained. One of the most impactful visits I experienced was at the Jardine Water Treatment Center. This facility is the world’s largest water treatment plant and can treat up to one million gallons of water per minute!

Visiting JWTC helped me to realize how much engineering and technology is involved in making clean drinking water a possibility for our communities. During this week, we also travelled to the Woodridge – Green Valley Wastewater Treatment Facility. Instead of cleaning water for people to drink, this plant cleans wastewater that will be reintroduced to the nearby DuPage River. On the tour we were able to see, hear, and smell all of the waste being cleaned at the facility. I was amazed at how much trash was being filtered out of the water that comes in from the drains of the surrounding community.

Both of these workshops taught me so much about what happens to our waste and water after we are done with it. The technology behind these processes is truly amazing. I am so glad to have been able to experience this through interning at SCARCE.

If you live in or near DuPage County, I strongly encourage you to visit SCARCE this summer! They are open 9AM-4:30PM Monday-Friday and are located at 799 Roosevelt Rd. Building 2, Suite 108 in Glen Ellyn, IL. For more information, visit

Wall art inside SCARCE office.

Wall art inside SCARCE office.

Submitted 5 May 2016 by Cassidy Avent

Posted in community, education, internships, recycling, students, suburbs, waste, water

Spring 2016 SUST Symposium at RU Featured Internships, Research, & Campus Sustainability Projects

Last Wednesday, April 27th, as part of our Earth Week campus events and activities, the Sustainability Studies Program at Roosevelt University hosted its biannual afternoon Symposium of student projects and research from 2:30-5:30pm in RU’s LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building at 425 S. Wabash Ave. in downtown Chicago (room 1214). Students in Roosevelt’s SUST program gave presentations about their recent campus sustainability projects, internships, and research experiences in a forum open to all RU students, faculty, and staff as well as the general public. SUST Symposium 3.1 was successfully videoconferenced and recorded via Zoom, so now you may watch the proceedings from the comfort of your favorite chair wherever you are in the world.

Featured Team Presentations: Campus Sustainability Projects

Members of SUST 390 Sustainable Campus (honors) — From Plan to Action: Moving Sustainability Forward at RU

Students in the Spring 2016 honors seminar “Sustainable Campus” began our Symposium with a series of group presentations on their campus sustainability projects undertaken this spring to help advance RU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan across several fronts. Teams discussed their pathbreaking initiatives in four key areas: general education curriculum (Nicole Kasper & Kurt Witteman), food waste reduction (Michael Gobbel & Tom Smith), student orientation (Jessica Heinz, Claudia Remy, & Moses Viveros), and bottled water policy (Ashley Nesseler, Lacy Reyna, & Brandon Rohlwing).

ACP 101 presentation title slidepdf of slide presentation

Bottled Water Presentation title slidepdf of slide presentation

pdf of slide presentation

Waste presentation title slidepdf of slide presentation

Featured Individual Presentations: Research & Internships

SUST major Lindsey Sharp in the FMNH mammalogy lab, Fall 2015 (photo: J. Kerbis)Lindsey Sharp — A Key to Unlocking Species Diversity at Lolldaiga Ranch

Lindsey is a senior SUST major and returning adult student who was awarded the prestigious Travis Foundation Scholarship this fall at RU, a competitive award given to 16 students each year. The scholarship enabled her to continue her studies as well as pursue a Spring 2016 internship at the Field Museum of Natural History, which she reported on recently here. Her project focused on the preparation and identification process of specimens collected during field research in the Eastern Province of Kenya. The results of the identification process were also analyzed in order to determine the area’s population of rodent species, which can be compared to earlier samples gathered from the area in order to determine changes in biodiversity over time. Her talk featured her everyday work at the lab in the larger context of mammal ecology, biodiversity conservation, and the value of museum collections research. (pdf of slides)

Cassidy AventSummer at SCARCE: An Environmental Education Internship Experience

Throughout the summer of 2015, SUST senior Cassidy Avent had the opportunity to work as an intern for an environmental NGO known as School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE). Her summer included working at the SCARCE office in Glen Ellyn IL, giving environmental education presentations at schools and community events, participating in teacher workshops, and many other fulfilling activities. Within this presentation she discussed her experience at SCARCE along with all of the valuable information and insights she gathered while interning at such a fascinating place. (pdf of slides)

Tiffany Mucci head shotTiffany Mucci — Midewin: One Land’s Story of Recovery and Renewal

SUST senior and returning adult student Tiffany Mucci, who has served as the Assistant Editor of the SUST at RU Blog this academic year, explored Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie as a living example of both the challenges we face in restoring and managing our native landscapes, and the resiliency of nature. Her presentation highlighted this site’s history as one of our nation’s most productive ordnance complexes to ever exist, and revealed its present-day designation as a protected tallgrass prairie ecosystem under the U.S. Forest Service. From seeding, to frogging, to corralling the newly-adopted buffalo of Midewin, she eloquently related what goes into the “(re)making of a prairie” in the 21st century. (pdf of slides)

Lacy-ReynaLacy Reyna — Temporal Distribution of Bryophytes in Cook County, IL

Senior science major and honors student Lacy Reyna, a double major in biology and psychology and RU’s 2015 Lincoln Laureate, worked in the botany division of the Field Museum while enrolled in the museum-based SUST 330 Biodiversity course this past fall with Lindsey. Using collections data from various institutions including the Field Museum, her research done in collaboration with FMNH scientists documents the shift in bryophyte species in Cook County across time. Her talk provided potential explanations for the shifts in species populations as well as discussed the importance of museum collections for biodiversity conservation. (pdf of slides)

Links to Past Symposia

  • Symposium 1.1 (Fall 2013): Alison Breeding, Kyle Huff, Ron Taylor
  • Symposium 1.2 (Spring 2014): Colleen Dennis, Jordan Ewbank, Mary Beth Radeck
  • Symposium 2.1 (Spring 2015): Melanie Blume, Rebecca Quesnell, Mary Rasic, Emily Rhea
  • Symposium 2.2 (Fall 2015): Shannon Conway, Laura Miller Hill, Karen Craig


Posted in activities, biodiversity, education, events, internships, museums, presentations, recycling, research, Roosevelt, science, students

100 Resilient Cities: News from Chicago

Editor’s Note: this is a slightly edited version of the City of Chicago’s press release from 2 May 2016. Also see this excellent Chicago Tribune article from 1 May 2016 by Nausheen Husain.

Aaron Koch chicago CROChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named Aaron Koch as Chicago’s first ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) as part of the city’s partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – an organization pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC).

“I’m thrilled to welcome Aaron as the City’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Harnessing his experience and work, this position will help to build upon existing efforts within the City to fortify our communities against environmental threats and other challenges.”

100-Resilient-Cities-Centennial-ChallengeThe 100RC-funded position will allow Chicago to build on existing efforts within the City to ensure that Chicago strengthens and prepares its communities for any challenges that may arise. The CRO will work from the Mayor’s Office and coordinate policy throughout the government to ensure every Chicago community can respond to shocks like flooding or blizzards and recover at a stronger and more rapid rate, while also focusing on the stresses which impact Chicagoans on a day-to-day basis. This work will address emergency preparedness, public safety and community development in collaboration with departments and agencies across the City.

In December of 2014, Mayor Emanuel announced that Chicago was selected as a winning City to be a part of 100RC. Chicago is included in a leading community of pioneers, innovators and highly-esteemed cities ready to build urban resilience across the globe by improving their own capabilities to prepare for, withstand and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses.

As part of the award, the City was granted funding to hire its first CRO, as well as expanding resources and partnerships with leading experts. The CRO’s role will include the creation of a Resilience Strategy, an action-oriented roadmap to tackle current and future challenges in the City. As part of the strategy, the City will work with a broad set of stakeholders, and, with expert technical assistance supplied by 100RC, will examine the challenges it faces and its capacity to address those challenges. The City will then develop a list of priorities and initiatives that will address existing gaps, including support from 100RC partners in executing various initiatives. Additionally, Koch will be connected to a network of other Chief Resilience Officers from cities around the world to collaborate, share best practices and contribute to building the field of resilience.

“I am honored by this appointment as Chicago’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Koch. “I look forward to working with stakeholders across Chicago to prepare for the stresses, shocks and natural hazards that we face now and into the future.”

“Aaron joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “Aaron will become a global leader in resilience, and will be an asset for Chicago and other cities around the world.”

Koch has worked as a deputy commissioner in the City’s Department of Water Management since 2012. He developed and implemented the Chicago Green Stormwater Strategy, Mayor Emanuel’s $50 million plan to use natural systems to better manage rainfall and reduce flooding risk. He previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. Koch holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in city planning.

About 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges.

100RC currently has 66 member cities, and will announce their third cohort of cities in late May of 2016. For more information, visit

Posted in cities, news, planning, policy

In It for the Long-Haul: SUST Major Tiffany Mucci Reflects on Her Spring Internship at Midewin

This spring 2016 semester, several students in the Sustainability Studies Program here at Roosevelt have reported and reflected upon their sustainability-related internship experiences. Here’s Tiffany Mucci’s final such post, a senior SUST major interning in plant conservation and ecological restoration at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Will County, about 50 miles SW of Chicago.

Reflecting on my work at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie this semester, one thing is very clear: This is a long-term restoration project that will take the work of many generations of staff and volunteers to bring these 19,000 acres back to some semblance of the tallgrass prairie that defined this region 200-and-some years ago.

Frankly, it is an effort that I won’t see the end of in my lifetime.

South Patrol Road restoration area (Photo: T. Mucci, May 2015)

South Patrol Road restoration area (Photo: T. Mucci, May 2015)

Twenty years have passed since the birth of Midewin, and the U.S. Forest Service and its many partners have made remarkable strides in rehabilitating this land, yet this prairie-making business is still very much in its infancy. The property as a whole is a heterogeneity of grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands; winter wheat and soybean fields; cattle pastures; a bison range; bunker fields; and other abandoned structures leftover from the arsenal years.

Japanese honeysuckle is among the first plants to put out its leaves in spring, making it a fierce competitor for space and sunlight. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

Japanese honeysuckle is among the first plants to put out its leaves in spring, making it a fierce competitor for space and sunlight. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

For such a large-scale restoration project, it’s best to take things one bite at a time, so to speak. One of the uphill battles is in effectively removing invasive plant species. Here, the autumn olive, multiflora rose, and Japanese honeysuckle are a few of our most relentless exotics. Each of these plants was deliberately brought to North America in the 1800s and early 1900s by horticulturists who did so with benign intentions. Whether the reason was for soil erosion control, living fences, or ornamental plantings, these non-natives found a cushy new place to call home – and it didn’t take long before they wore out their welcome. These exotics continue to thrive here, making life difficult for native plant species.

Invasives removal is a battle between man and shrub, which is far more arduous than it sounds. We brush-cut regularly throughout the winter and early spring, stopping the plants’ growth before they can put out their foliage. Using loppers and hand-saws, we dodge spiny branches and thorns, cutting low to the ground, and slather on a bright blue-green coat of herbicide over the stumps. At the end of the day, clothing snagged and skin scratched, it feels as though those motionless shrubs were fighting back the whole time. And so, the invasives are hacked away at year after year with steadfast determination and the vision that someday our fields will be free of these formidable bushes.

Staff and volunteers load brush onto a trailer. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

Staff and volunteers load brush onto a trailer. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

Hard work and determination does pay off over time. One of Midewin’s biggest milestones was met last fall, with the reintroduction of a small herd of American bison. A milestone indeed, but one that is highly experimental, and calls for careful monitoring — even vigilance — over the next couple of decades. The theory is that bison grazing will encourage a more self-sustaining tallgrass prairie ecosystem, by fostering a wider diversity of grassland vegetation, birds, and animals. Perhaps one of the hardest things to accept going into this experiment is that we must be prepared for any outcome, whether that is success, failure, or somewhere in-between.

Watching bison feed on hay inside their corral. (Photo: G. Wu, 2016)

Watching bison feed on hay inside their corral. (Photo: G. Wu, 2016)

Agriculture, industrialization, and even horticulture have left their lasting impressions on our native landscapes, damage that we are still learning how to undo. MNTP is a prime example of the ecological challenges we face in the 21st century. Although this place will forever be one-of-a-kind for its unique history and circumstances, I see this prairie project as model for the future as formerly industrialized places become the subjects of restoration.

It is going to take patience, diligence, and the steady hands of time, but the iconic tallgrass prairie is coming to life once again on an unassuming parcel of land named Midewin.


Tiffany Mucci head shotSUST senior Tiffany Mucci is spending her spring 2016 semester interning at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington IL, working with staff and volunteers in their restoration program. During the May 2015 section of SUST 390, she authored this creative non-fiction essay about Midewin. This year Mucci is also co-editing the new Writing Urban Nature project for the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab and serving as Assistant Editor of the SUST at RU blog. 

Posted in conservation, ecology, education, Illinois, internships, parks and public land, restoration, students, suburbs, wildlife

Faces of the Poisoned: A Roosevelt University Journalism Convergence Project

The Department of Communication in Roosevelt University’s College of Arts and Sciences is hosting a panel discussion with Roosevelt journalism students who traveled to Flint, Michigan, this spring to cover the drinking water crisis story. Hear, see, and experience the story from these student journalists. The panel discussion is on Thursday, May 5 from 5-7 p.m. in the Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Avenue.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Professor John Fountain at

Faces of Flint RU Event 2016-05-05

Posted in arts, cities, courses, ethics, exhibits, humanities, pollution, Roosevelt, social justice, students, water