Should Obama Library Be Built in a Public Parkland? Chicago Park District Says Yes

According to this AP report posted by Chicago Public Radio WBEZ this morning, the Chicago Park District has given the green light to the city’s potential acquisition of parkland on the South Side for the site of the proposed Obama presidential library. This decision is controversial, as noted in this article from the Chicago Tribune, as both Jackson and Washington Parks are historically significant public/green spaces located in economically-distressed and minority neighborhoods and in a region of the city where existing parkland is already at a premium.

Map of Washington Park, South Side of Chicago

Map of Washington Park, South Side of Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push to offer public parkland as a site for Barack Obama’s presidential library is expected to get a boost.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Park District is expected to approve an agreement to allow about 20 acres of either Washington Park or Jackson Park on the city’s South Side be transferred to the city if President Obama selects either site.

If that happens, the City Council — which has already signaled its support of the transfer — would vote next month on an ordinance proposed by the mayor.

The University of Chicago’s bid to build the library on parkland is one of four for the facility. Others that have made proposals are the University of Illinois-Chicago, Columbia University in New York and the University of Hawaii.

Posted in architecture, cities, humanities, Illinois, news, parks and public land | 1 Comment

Sustainable Agriculture Internships at Barrington Natural Farms

Barrington Natural Farms is a “diversified 50-acre farm located just 45 miles northwest of Chicago, Illinois. The primary focus of the farm is on protein production utilizing humane, pasture-based, organic, and biodynamic agricultural practices. The farm currently raises dairy cattle for raw milk and cheese production, chickens both for meat and eggs, beef cattle, hogs, and a small vegetable CSA. All products are sold directly to consumers from the farm.”  In 2015 they plan on expanding their Barrington operations to a new barn and pastures and opening a farm store in Algonquin, Illinois.

Photo: Barrington Natural Farms website

Photo: Barrington Natural Farms website

Barrington Natural Farms has paid sustainable agriculture internships available for the coming growing season. See this link for more information and application instructions. 

Posted in agriculture, food, internships

Summer 2015 NSF Fellowships: Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

SUST majors who have had some biology/environmental science classes are in a good position to apply for a Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) summer fellowships, offered through generous funding by the National Science Foundation. These fellowships are excellent opportunities to work directly with scientific researchers on lab- and field-based topics, gain hands-on research experience, and network with fellow undergrads from other schools. Plus they’re well compensated with a fellowship stipend of several thousand dollars. (Yes — you read that correctly.)

REU students and researchers from the 2014 Symposium at the Field Museum (photo: FMNH)

REU students and researchers from the 2014 Symposium at the Field Museum (photo: FMNH)

Here in the Chicago region there are several notable REU programs that offer multiple paid fellowships, including those at the Field Museum of Natural History, the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of WI Milwaukee, and the Center for Ecology at Southern IL University in downstate Carbondale.

Further afield, check out these opportunities at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Lab summer research fellowship opportunity entitled “Interdisciplinary Research on Human Impacts in the Lake Champlain Ecosystem,” from May 31 to August 7, 2015 (deadline: Feb. 13th); and the opportunities at the University of Michigan Biological Station (2015 deadline: Feb. 2nd) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (2015 deadline: Feb. 15th). Both are phenomenal places to spend a summer doing field-based research!

Interested applicants should also check out the NSF’s REU Students website for access to dozens of fellowships opportunities across across the US.

Check individual program sites for 2015 application materials and deadlines, which are usually in February or March.

In summer 2012, recent SUST grad Allison Breeding (BA ’13) won a fellowship at SIU’s Center for Ecology and studied agroecology in beautiful Southern Illinois; she blogged about her experiences here and presented an overview of her research at the October 2013 Sustainability Studies Student Symposium.

Want to learn more? Check out the links above. And remember: you can’t get one of these awesome fellowships unless you apply!

Posted in biodiversity, conservation, ecology, education, fellowships, museums, research, science, students

Human Rights Organization UN Watch Now Hiring for Three Positions

UN Watch, a human rights non-profit, seeks to recruit qualified candidates for the following three positions.

1. Director of Development in New York

UN Watch is seeking to recruit an experienced and dynamic Director of Development who will successfully grow fundraising initiatives in support of our multi-year strategic vision for growth and expansion. She or he will be based in a new UN Watch office to be established in New York. Click here for details 

2. Graduate Fellowship in Geneva (deadline for Applications: Feb. 15th) 

Graduates with degrees in international relations or related fields, and at least one year of work experience, are invited to apply for a one-year Graduate Fellowship with UN Watch in Geneva. Candidates must have superb writing skills in English. Fellows draft reports, speeches, op-eds, and press releases, monitor and report on meetings at the UN, perform research, and manage social media. Previous UN Watch Fellows have gone on to prestigious careers in government, diplomacy and journalism. Click here for details

3. Administrative Assistant in Geneva

UN Watch seeks an Administrative Assistant for our Geneva office. Responsibilities include correspondence, calendar management, travel planning, donation processing, data entry, event management and a range of other office administration matters. Click here for details

According the UN Watch website, the organization “is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter. UN Watch was established in 1993 by the legendary civil rights activist Morris B. Abram, the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. UN Watch participates actively at the UN as an accredited NGO in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). It reports regularly to both.”

Posted in economics, fellowships, green jobs, social justice, students

IL Gov Bruce Rauner’s Appointments to Lead Dept of Ag, IL EPA, and IDNR a Mixed Bag

Newly installed Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner made a point during his election campaign in 2014 of promising that he’d appoint true professionals to his administration who actually know something about the agencies they run, instead of merely bringing in politically connected cronies with no concrete knowledge of or expertise in the practice of their administrations.

He seemingly lived up to that promise in his appointment of an actual farmer, Philip Nelson of Seneca, as secretary of the IL Dept of Agriculture last month. Nelson was the president of the IL Farm Bureau from 2003-13. (Unknown as of this writing are Nelson’s positions on environmental conservation, organic farming, sustainable food production, and urban farming. Stay tuned for a follow-up on that.)

Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes the Oath of Office from the Honorable Sharon Johnson Coleman with his wife, Diana, holding the Bible and surrounded by his children during the Illinois Inaugural Ceremony at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register)

Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes the Oath of Office from the Honorable Sharon Johnson Coleman with his wife, Diana, holding the Bible and surrounded by his children during the Illinois Inaugural Ceremony at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register)

However, another key leadership appointment related to the present health and future protection of Illinois’ natural environment is indicative of how Rauner is not fulfilling that pledge in other critical departments of the state’s government. While he opted for continuity in re-appointing Lisa Bonnett to the IL EPA directorship, he has nominated State Rep. Wayne Rosenthal (R, 95th Dist.) to the IL Department of Natural Resources position. Rosenthal is a central IL farmer and former military man who may well be a good administrator; but has no experience in environmental conservation, has been an energetic supporter of fracking in IL, and has taken campaign contributions from energy companies the last several years.

Given the many accomplished environmental professionals in our state who have leadership experience and acumen, this IDNR appointment is a huge disappointment for the people and natural ecosystems of Illinois. See this link for a detailed summary of Rauner’s appointments thus far.


Posted in agriculture, conservation, Illinois, news, policy

Agricultural History and Food Education in Schaumburg; Melanie Blume Reports on Spring Valley Internship Experiences this Semester

Blume, MelanieThis guest post is by RU senior Melanie Blume, a SUST major who is interning with conservation and education staff at the Spring Valley Nature Center and the Volkening Heritage Farm near Roosevelt’s campus in Schaumburg IL. These excellent facilities are part of the 135-acre Spring Valley Conservation Area, the largest and most ecologically significant green space with the Village of Schaumburg limits, and are managed by the Schaumburg Park District. 

During the Spring 2015 semester, Melanie will reflect on her work at Spring Valley on prairie conservation, seed propagation, invasive species identification and removal at the Nature Center; as well as on garden preparation, planting of their extensive vegetable garden, and contributing to Farm to Table programs with a focus on local food production at the Volkening Farm.

There is a farm to table movement that is sweeping across the Midwest. It emphasizes using fresh ingredients that are in season and grown locally. As part of my internship at Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg this winter and spring, I am assisting in a series of classes that teach how to prepare healthy wholesome dishes using farm fresh ingredients that are grown locally. From February to March there will be classes themed on potatoes, honey, farm fresh eggs, and asparagus. More information and registration can be found at

SV Farm in Sch

The Volkening Farm at Spring Valley in Schaumburg (M. Bryson, 2011)

The Volkening Heritage Farm had its origins when it was built in the 1880s in a German farm community that was Schaumburg, IL. Although unrecognizable now, remnants of historic Schaumburg are still found everywhere — from Busse Woods, which was planted by Mr. Busse to supply the small town with a sufficient supply of lumber; to street names like Nerge and Wise, which were both individual family farms in the 1880s. Many of the buildings on the property came from surrounding farms for historic preservation as Schaumburg’s commercial economy boomed during the 20th century.

The art of cooking has not been passed down as well as in previous years and many young adults are at a loss of how to prepare their own meals. There are so many options from frozen dinners to eating out that cooking isn’t necessarily required anymore. Eating homemade food improves a person’s health and knowing how to whip up a meal using a few readily available ingredients rather than going out or though a drive-through can save a lot of money.

During a SUST field trip in March 2013, Monique Inglot, Heritage Farm Program Assistant who manages the kitchen and garden, explains how students will help her prepare a sustainable meal from seasonally-appropriate food that 19th farm families would've eaten in the 1880s. (M. Bryson)

During a SUST field trip in March 2013, Monique Inglot, Heritage Farm Program Assistant who manages the kitchen and garden, explains how students will help her prepare a sustainable meal from seasonally-appropriate food that 19th farm families would’ve eaten in the 1880s. (M. Bryson)

I spent some time researching asparagus and found that for a food it has a lot of followers. In Germany there is an entire museum dedicated to asparagus. They have what look like albino asparagus and it is grown entirely underground. When it peeks through the soil it must be immediately covered by more soil to prevent any photosynthesis to occur which would make it green—this process is calling blanching. White asparagus is less bitter but more tender than green asparagus.

Asparagus must be cut when the buds are small, but they will keep producing new ones throughout summer once they are cut. At the end of the growing season, the plants are left to go to seed and regenerate next year’s crop. I tried making an asparagus quiche at home and it turned out delicious! Just like making scrambled eggs, you chop up onions, asparagus, bacon, cheddar and swiss cheese and add about 6 eggs and some half and half. It was ready in 45 minutes after baking at 375 degrees. I think we’ll try to find pans to make personal sized quiches for the class.

Another ingredient we are focusing on in the Farm to Table Series is honey. We will sample various types of honey. The staff there taught me that the difference in various honey is the pollen used. One example is buckwheat honey, which is made by bees that pollinate the buckwheat plant. Raw honey is thick and viscous until it is whipped and churned into the honey we buy at the store. I was thinking of suggesting baklava for one of the honey dishes — but first I’ll have to see how difficult and time consuming it is.

It was interesting to learn that there aren’t any native honeybees in North America; they were all brought from Europe. The plants honeybees pollenate aren’t typically native ones either. Beekeepers move their bees by moving the queen bee. All the other bees loyally follow to protect their queen. Honey is a much healthier sweetener than sugar and has natural antioxidants.

More to come after I put in more time at the Farm in upcoming weeks!

Melanie Blume, submitted 29 Jan 2015

Posted in agriculture, conservation, education, food, history, Illinois, internships, parks and public land, Roosevelt, service, students, suburbs

Panel Discussion on Water in the 21st Century on Feb 12th at NU’s Chicago Campus

C2ST Water pic 2015-02-12This panel discussion at Northwestern University’s Chicago Campus on 12 Feb 2015, presented by the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, will feature a policy expert, an environmental expert, and a technologist who take you through the ways we must change our relationship with water, and the opportunities that come with a changed mindset.

Panel Theme

Lake Michigan is Chicago’s pride and joy. Chicago and the region have a long relationship with our lakefront and the Chicago River. Our water has driven our economy, made us a destination for visitors, and ensured we have an adequate water supply. From reversing the Chicago River to building the deep tunnel, managing water has been a driver for Chicago to innovate and reinvent our world.

The world is increasingly recognizing that our relationship with water is changing. This is driven by urbanization, climate change, use of energy, intensification of agriculture, and aging infrastructure. As the West is suffering from severe droughts, Chicago has experienced increased flooding.

Using science, technology, public policy, social networks, and investment, we can develop solutions that both improve our quality of life and enhance our economy. In the future, we will reuse water. This will create opportunities to attract industry that requires a reliable water supply. This is a job creator. We will develop new technologies to support water-intensive industries. This will help us create new companies from our great research institutions. We will improve our environment by recovery value from what is perceived as waste stream, and by decreasing discharges.

Featured Panelists

Debra Shore is a Commissioner on the Board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Shore has been a strong advocate for cleaning up the Chicago waterways and for resource recovery, including the reuse of treated water and the generation and use of biogas. Shore serves on the board of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, was the founding editor of Chicago Wilderness Magazine, is an active volunteer restoring prairies and oak woods in the forest preserves, and was a founding board member of Friends of the Forest Preserves. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD with a degree in Philosophy & Visual Arts, and earned Master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia College (Chicago).

Aaron Packman is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Northwestern University. His research focuses on water resources and the interaction of water, sediments, and microorganisms. Important applications of his work include nutrient and carbon dynamics, water quality and contamination, ecosystem degradation and restoration, and waterborne disease transmission. Dr. Packman has received several major awards for his work, including Career awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, the Huber Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair award for research and teaching at the Politecnico di Torino, Italy.

Seth Snyder is the leader of a new water initiative at Argonne National Laboratory. He has developed and worked on leading technology and engineering in renewable energy, water, and energy efficiency. Snyder has published over 50 papers and 17 patents, and has received three R&D100 awards and an FLC Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. He has adjunct and fellow appointments at Northwestern University and University of Chicago.

Program Details 

Thursday, February 12, 2015, Northwestern University Downtown Campus, Hughes Auditorium, 303 E. Superior St., Chicago. Program begins at 6 p.m. $12 general admission, $5 for students, free for C2ST members. Discounted parking is available to the first 50 attendees, at the 202 E Huron parking garage. Ask at the C2ST registration table, and you can purchase a ticket to exit the garage at a discounted rate. Register at:

Contact Andrea Poet at or 312-567-5795 with any questions.

The Chicago Council on Science and Technology is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization that brings researchers and scientists out of the lab, directly to you. We work with national laboratories, leading academic institutions and museums to educate the public on issues of critical scientific importance. In an age when barely one in four voting adults meet a basic level of scientific literacy, we aim to reignite an excitement and passion for science and technology, and remind Chicagoans of the quality and quantity of R&D that takes place in their backyard.

Posted in activities, cities, education, events, planning, policy, science, water