I told the kids their their tree study should not end here.
There are more trees. Many any more.
Draw them in their detail.
Watch them bloom.
Keep a notebook.
When you get bored of TV or games this summer, strike out with your notebook and pencil and discover a new tree. I can even loan Audubon tree field guides.
Same with bugs,
Make your summer a summer of discovery.
Create your own field journals, like Leonardo DaVinci!
Next year: The Chicago River!
Speaking of which, learn more here about the Friends of the Chicago River program to stock Channel Catfish of the Chi!. We have sent in a contribution to "adopt" a fish to encourage this good idea. We see lots of fisher folk at the river catching large sized catfish. It's good to have these skilled practitioners as part of our community. Some day soon they may become safe to feast on.
Please check out the Take the Overflow Action Day Pledge.
This is where you receive notification that a rain event will likely cause a CSO (combined sewage overflow) forcing the MWRD to dump raw sewage in the river. Because we have combined sewers (household and industrial waste are mixed with rainwater) our systems are often overwhelmed. The Pledge asks you to do two things: when a big rain is imminent, postpone doing laundry and other non-essential water uses that end up in the sewers, and; disconnect your downspout and let the water flow out into your yard, or parkway, and ultimately into the ground.
It all depends on us!
Below a message from Beth Kosson:
I host a free monthly event for members of the Chicago environmental industry. Next Monday, June 27, will be the next Environmental Industry Night. Professionals from multiple sectors - private, public, non-profit, college students, volunteers, and others – will be present. This is the only networking event that works to bridge the gaps between the for-profit and non-profit sectors and provides a platform for groups and individuals to share resources and support the common goals we all share. At this event we will learn more about the sustainability and environmental work Patagonia is doing in the region and about a group of young professionals that have been getting their hands dirty every weekend restoring the region's biodiversity. Specifics about the event can be found on the Eventbrite page.
Thank you and I hope to see you there!
Garden Night will go on through the Summer, Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m.-dark. Come for an hour or stay till the stars come out (or at least the bats)!
Check out the overview report on Waters' Commercial Composting Pilot Project, and see the photos above of two great bugs discovered at BioDiversity Day, as well as photos from the Tree Olympics.
I had the privilege to do the Commencement speech for our 8th Grade Graduation last Friday.
Address to Graduating Class of 2016
June 17, 2016
I teach ecology at Waters.
Ecology is the study of how the "household" works.
In the science sense of the word it is about rocks and the atmosphere,
weather and gravity, animals, plants, and all the millions of species of creatures too small to see.
It is about how they live together:
who brings home the food,
who cooks, who cleans, who takes out the garbage,
The house, the family, in this metaphor is our world.
And it includes us.
our school and community.
I have the best job because I have been able to travel with you out on adventures in this world.
In kindergarden the big wide world was our garden: planting, harvesting, and feasting on potatoes and stories, poking in the compost to discover those fascinating
In 1st grade you studied the trees of Waters school, and the miracle of how they are born and grow.
I remember, it may have been your class, sitting in the garden taping up your first leaf collection.
I was also taking photos with an old fashion point and click camera.
I left it on one of the tables and when I looked for it next it had moved.
"Did you take a picture?" I asked,
And your whole table said, "No, Nooooo"
A week later when I got the photos developed, half the roll was of my backside!"
In 2nd grade we walked off site, for the first time,
to learn about the river.
And there, once, by luck we saw a "sun dog" a very rare phenomenon where there is a
circular rainbow around the Sun.
In 3rd and 4th and 5th we went to Sauganash, "to help the forest grow." And I saw the look on your faces when you first came upon a deer in the wild, or a coyote, orbraccoon. I saw your body hunched over your field journal trying to get the drawing just right. I saw you as a tiny 3rd grader in the middle of winter sweating with a bow saw to take down a buckthorn tree.
In 6th we went back to the river to learn the its whole sad history, from sparkling prairie stream, to badly polluted sewage channel. And we wrote letters, and tested the waters, and helped our government take the next step towards a river that is fishable and swimmable.
In 7th we studied our precious Lake Michigan. We visited in the freezing blast of winter, and fished in its harbors in spring. You faced that icy blast, the sand and snow swirling in the wind,
And you set your hook in spring and waited for that tiny tug on the line that meant you got one!
In 8th grade you came full circle back to the garden to help make it and keep it rich and beautiful. You helped harvest and sample its products, from mint teas to pizzas and red currant lemonade.
It has been my good fortune to watch you grow into caring, thoughtful, intelligent, young people. Young people who care about their world and understand their part in healing it, and maintaining it. We only have one world. Your eyes are open. Your hearts are open. You are ready for more, and new adventures.
Maybe most importantly, I have seen how you care for each other. How you accept and encourage each other. How you welcome new classmates as new friends.
That is something that doesn't show up in test scores, but it one of the things that makes your teachers most proud of you.
You have grown in to strong and thoughtful young people with the help of your families, your parents, brothers and sisters;
With the care of your teachers, who behold, in wonder, the miracle of the growth and transition of a new young human being.
You have been watched and guided by counselors, administrators, office staff, and custodians,
You are a miracle, not unlike the miracle of a seed that sprouts and grows and grows and blossoms.
And I am so honored to be able to wish you well, to congratulate your success, and to remind you that even after graduation we remain one community, one family, caring for each other. Well done Class of 2016!
The best to you all,