Tag Archives: Alderman Joe Moore

A win for front yard veggies, two great conferences, and trying to get a win for clean air

February 13, 2011

Victory Garden!! Northbrook allows front yard veggies!

You might remember last year’s late summer brouhaha involving a modest vegetable garden that a modest family in Northbrook just happened to put in the wrong place–their front yard. When a neighbor decided to issue a complaint, Alex Lyakhovetsky and his mother Dora quickly became the poster children for the suburban Locavore movement

It seemed a little bizarre to me that a lawn, which has been described as a “biological desert,” might be preferred over a plot of land that produces food. Regardless, the matter ended up on the agenda of the Village of Northbrook Board of Trustees. I attended the meeting where Dora presented them with a basket of tomatoes that had been grown in her own yard. “It’s wonderful,” she said, and placed it on the table in front of them.

Fast forward to Tuesday of this past week, when the board met to discuss whether a vegetable garden was an appropriate use of a front yard. Lee Goodman, who spoke eloquently to the board last September in defense of the Lyakhovetsky garden, fired off an email to me. It read:

The Northbrook village board decided tonight to allow people to have vegetable gardens in their front yards, without any size restrictions, and without prior permission. It took us a long time to get this decision, and I consider it a total victory. Hopefully people will follow Dora’s example and plant vegetables, and other municipalities will follow Northbrook’s lead.

Woo-hoo! I called the Lyakhovetskys and the lovely Dora (who laid a beautiful cantaloupe on me last fall) called it her “victory garden.” Hence the headline above. Alex Lyakhovetsky and Lee Goodman are on the show this morning to discuss the action of the City of Northbrook.

Garfield Farm presents 25th anniversary native plant seminar

Garfield Farm Museum has an all-star cast for its 25th annual Prairie, Woodlands, and Wetlands Management Seminar on Saturday, February 19 from 8:30 am-4:30pm. A couple of the speakers, Roy Diblik from Northwind Perennial Farm and Connor Shaw from Possibility Place Nursery, are friends of my show. Also featured are John Engstrom, Cathy McGlynn and Jerome Johnson.

What I like about this day long event is that it’s directed at the average land owner–from backyard gardeners to owners of natural area acreage. The seminar covers all the key methods and techniques of preserving and using the best adapted plants for the Illinois environment.

Jerome Johnson, Executive Director of Garfield Farm Museum and Cathy McGlynn join me on the program this morning. Cathy is Coordinator of the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) and will be talking about new and established invasive plants in prairies.She will also talk about the New Invaders Watch Program (NiWP) and how the average citizen can get involved in stemming the tide of invasive plants. How do we do this? By knowing about each plant’s natural history, identification, native look a-likes, control methods, and current known locations. Sound like a lot of work? You betcha. And necessary, too.

There is a $50 donation for the all day seminar which includes lunch and refreshments. That is SUCH a deal! I want to help Jerome fill the place next Saturday.

Speaking of great conferences…

The Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee, or WPPC (and I keep telling them that they need a name that rolls off the tongue a little more easily) is holding it’s 19th annual Natural Landscapign Seminar on Saturday, February 26, 2011 from 8:00 am to 3:45 pm at McHenry County College Conference Center, 8900 US Route 14 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. This year’s program is called
“Tending the Earth”.

On next week’s show, I will be talking to Carole Brown, who will be presenting the talk “Ecosystem Gardening: Native Plants are Essential.” She is a conservation biologist, passionate naturalist, photographer, author and educator. I’m also hoping to talk to Steven Apfelbaum, chairman and principal ecologist of Applied Ecological Services, Inc. His talk is called “Nature’s Second Chance”

Normally, I don’t preview my shows a week in advance, but the WPPC had some issues with getting their conference invitations out via snail mail recently, and I’m stepping in. They invited me to speak up in McHenry County a few years ago and they’re a great organization. I hope people turn out in force for the seminar.

Valentine’s Day is “Clean Power Ordinance People’s Hearing” Day

How about sending a love note to Chicago’s air tomorrow?

49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore was on the show a couple of weeks ago to talk about how a hearing on the Clean Power Ordinance, which he introduced last year, had been put on the back burner by the Chicago City Council, more than likely at the behest of the Daley Administration.

But that’s not going to stop Moore. Tomorrow morning, starting with a press conference at 9:30 a.m., Ald. Moore with convene his own ad hoc hearing on the Clean Power Ordinance, and I encourage you to be there. The site is City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, 121 North LaSalle Street in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Greening Together: A Benefit to Re-Elect Joe Moore, which was postponed by the Blizzard of ’11, has been rescheduled for this this Wednesday at Uncommon Ground Restaurant, 1401 W. Devon Avenue in Chicago. Even if you don’t live in the 49th Ward (and I don’t), you might want to consider supporting this true champion on environmental issues and citizen participation in Chicago government.

Super sowing, green banks and not-so-clean air

January 30, 2011

Stand by for “Super Sow Sunday”!

Last week, I talked about ordering and swapping seeds with the ubiquitous Mr. Brown Thumb, and Jessica Rinks from The Forest Park Community Garden. But this seems to be the week of big events in the seed world. First, there’s National Seed Swap Day, which is either January 29, 30 or 31st, depending on what you read (they need to take a vote).

Of course, we all know what most people will be doing next week, February 6. Why, planting seeds! It’s the second annual Super Sow Sunday on Twitter. The way you get involved is to type #supersowsunday into your search function (assuming you’re on Twitter), which will hook you up to all kinds of people who love to plant seeds and who aren’t particularly found of football.

The event goes from about 6:30 -8:30 p.m. ET–you know, basically during the football game. During that time tweeters will connect with hundreds of gardeners from across the world and share planting tips, how to sow, and what seeds were successfu. You’ll also be able to ask questions of seed representatives from around the country. Apparently, there will also be some big seed giveaways. So, if you hate the Green Bay Packers as much as most Chicagoans do, and don’t give a rip about the crop of new commercials, this is one way to stay entertained.

The only caveat I have is that it’s still a little early to be starting seeds in this neck of the world. But you can do something called winter sowing. It’s a method for planting seeds in containers now and putting them outside, so that they begin to sprout when nature gives them the right conditions. Our Little Acre blog site provides a step by step photo essay on one way to accomplish this.

What does it mean to be a “green” bank?

That’s what I’m going to ask Steve Sherman this morning. He just happens to be one of the founders of GreenChoice Bank, which calls itself the “the Midwest’s first green community bank… committed to taking care of its customers, its community, and its planet.” Sherman is also a LEED AP ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional), chief operating officer and director of the bank.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house to launch two GreenChoice Bank branch facilities, recently retrofitted and seeking LEED EBO&M (Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance) certification. Each building is nearly 100 years old. One is at 5225 W. 25th St. in Cicero (ceremony 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 1) and the other at 838 S. State St. in Lockport (10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8). However, the flagship LEED Platinum location hasn’t yet opened, as it is in the long-delayed Green Exchange at 2545 W. Diversey Avenue in Chicago.

Among the ways that GreenChoice positions itself apart from other banks, in their words:

  • Sustainable principles guide every aspect of the bank’s operations.
  • They focus on supporting the local community, fostering green collar jobs creation
    and growth, and improving the sustainable business economy.
  • They understand sustainability because they are involved with the sustainable business
  • Customers know that, when they bank with GreenChoice, their funds are being leveraged
    responsibly and invested back into the community.

It’s time to stop the “clean coal” movement in Illinois

It was almost by accident that the subject of two coal gasifications bills came up during my show last week. I can’t exactly remember how they came into the conversation, but when I mentioned SB 3388 (Leucadia) and SB 1927 (Power Holdings), which have already passed the Illinois General Assembly and are now sitting on Governor Pat Quinn’s desk, I received a phone call from Tom Sheperd, who lives in the southeast side neighborhood that will be affected by passage of the Leucadia law.

The story, basically, is that Leucadia National Corp. proposed a $3 billion coal gasification plant to be located on the south side of Chicago on the site of a coke facility that has sat unused for about a decade. The Chicago Tribune lays out the issue in an article called “Seeking Permission to Pollute.” One of the more controversial aspects of SB 3388 is that the bill would require natural gas utilities to enter into a thirty year contract for power from Leucadia, which could total 8% of the state’s energy from natural gas.

Power Holdings has proposed a coal gasification plant to be located in downstate Jefferson County. That bill would require the state’s natural gas utilities to enter into a ten year contract for power from its facility.  According to an Illinois Environmental Council bulletin, Crain’s Chicago says that the natural gas from these facilities would be sold at prices that are roughly double the current market price of natural gas.

This is on top of the environmental risk that both of these plants pose. Coal gasification is often promoted as “clean coal.” Yet, many environmental groups will tell you that there is no such thing as “clean coal.” One of those groups is the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. Director Jack Darin says that Illinois Sierra Club has posted a petition on its website, urging Governor Quinn to veto both pieces of legislation. I’m talking to him about that on the show today.

Chicago’s Clean Power Ordinance put on hold…again.

It’s hard to imagine why, even as “clean coal” plants are proposed for the city’s southeast side, two major contributors of life-shortening pollutants continue unabated in Pilsen and Little Village. I’m speaking, of course, of the Fisk and Crawford coal-fire power plants that are an embarrassment to Chicago, as long as it wants to be considered the “Greenest City in America.”

Last year, 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore introduced the Clean Power Ordinance in an effort to force those plants to reduce their emissions or shut down permanently. The measure, which is co-sponsored by 16 aldermen, was referred jointly to the City Council’s Committee on Health, now chaired by Ald. James Balcer and the Committee on Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities, chaired by Ald. Virginia Rugai. Last week I received a message from the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, comprising more than 50 health, community, environmental and business groups, stating that Ald. Balcer would be holding a hearing on the Clean Power Ordinance on February 14 at 10:00 a.m.

Not so fast.

On Friday, word came that that the hearing would be delayed indefinitely. Since a majority vote of the joint committee is needed for the legislation to advance to a vote by the full City Council, this makes the legislation dead in the water.

It’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Daley administration has put the heat on aldermen to make sure that nothing happens for the remainder of Hizzoner’s term. “I know the Administration would like us to just go away,” says Ald. Moore, “but the health and well-being of Chicago residents and the future health of our children and grandchildren are at stake.”

So now what? Moore says that he intends to go through with the hearing on the 14th, even if it’s unofficial. He will invite allies of the proposed ordinance to attend, as well as members of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition and citizens who are simply concerned about air quality in the city.

Meanwhile, there are mayoral and aldermanic races to be run, and Alderman Moore is having a fundraiser next Tuesday evening, February 1 at Uncommon Ground Restaurant on Devon Avenue. It’s called Greener Together: A Benefit to Re-Elect Joe Moore and I wiil be there to support this champion of environmental causes in Chicago. Even if you don’t live in the “Fightin’ 49th” Ward, consider making a contribution to a man who is working hard to make our city’s air clean.

How green was our mayor? A panel of experts weighs in on The Mike Nowak Show

October 7, 2010

[UPDATE: The podcast of the show described below is now posted: http://www.mikenowak.net/podcasts/]

Since Richard M. Daley surprised pretty much everybody by announcing that he would not run for an unprecendented seventh term as mayor of Chicago, media types have been commenting on his legacy in print and on the airwaves. Unfortunately, I’ve found (and I’m sure I haven’t read or heard or seen everything out there) that the word “environment” has taken a back seat.

Don’t you find it odd that Mayor Daley has been touted as one of the greenest mayors in the world and yet, when it comes time to measure his accomplishments, many of the Chicago media outlets have ignored the environmental aspects completely? To be sure, education, crime and political machinations are important. But one reporter for a well-respected news operation told me that the environment didn’t “make the cut” in a retrospective story they wrote about Daley. Are you kidding me?

That’s why I’ve assembled a group of writers, politicos, environmental organization staffers, administration insiders and more to discuss how successful Mr. Daley has been in making Chicago green and where he fell short. The conversation will be on The Mike Nowak Show this Sunday, October 10 from 9:00 to 11:00  a.m. Here’s the lineup:

  • Beth Botts serves as co-host today. She is an award-winning garden writer, speaker and consultant in Chicago, where she was on staff at the Chicago Tribune for more than 20 years.She now has a blog called Growing in Chicago, and is a frequent guest on The Mike Nowak Show. In anticipation of this program, she has written an excellent blog post called “How Green Will Chicago Be After Daley?” It’s a great place to get an overview of our discussion.
  • Mick Dumke is another friend of the show. He is a staff writer for the Chicago News Cooperative, Mick has written about Chicago politics and environmental issues for a decade, at the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Reporter. He also became my hero when Mayor Daley threatened to shove a rifle up his kiester.
  • Joe Moore has been 49th Ward Alderman since 1991. A long-time environmental advocate who created 49th Ward Green Corps, he was a ferocious critic of Chicago’s infamous Blue Bag recycling program, which was discontinued in 2008.
  • Henry Henderson is the Director of the Midwest Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago. He was the founding commissioner of the Department of the Environment for the City of Chicago and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post regarding envrionmental issues.
  • Erma Tranter is president of Friends of the Parks, (FOTP), which is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and improving Chicago’s parks and forest preserves for all citizens.
  • Christy Webber runs one of the largest landscape companies in Chicago–Christy Webber Landscapes. Christy has maintained some of the most prestigious Chicago landmarks, such as Millennium Park and O’Hare and Midway airports.
  • Kimberly Wasserman Nieto is Coordinator of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), where she has worked since 1998. She oversees the community projects, leadership development and inner workings of the organization.

I am also encouraging listeners to call in and give us their perspectives of Daley’s environmental stewardship. The phone number, as always, is 773-838-WCPT (9278).

Looking at what Hizzoner accomplished and what got left behind is the first step in lobbying the myriad of mayoral candidates for effective green programs. It will be interesting to see which ones step up and offer concrete programs. I don’t know whether or not Chicago’s environment will “make the cut” when it comes to the political posturing tidal wave that is about to wash over us–but I’m going to do my darndest to see that it does.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I hope you can help me get the word out about this Sunday’s show. I think it’s going to be a good one.

Speaking of recycling and radio…

I’m not the only Chicago radio guy who talks about environmental issues. Yeah, I do it a lot more than most people, but one of my buddies in the broadcasting biz is Mike Stephen with WLUW‘s Outside the Loop RADIO: Chicago’s Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine

His goal is to cover topics that sometimes fly under the radar in Chicago…with an independent slant. This week Mike gave me a chance to wax poetic about recycling–and the lack of it–in the Windy City, in my position as president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition. And since this fits so well with the panel discussion about Mayor Daley ‘s green accomplishments, I figured I’d give Mike’s show a plug and put this link to our conversation right here.