In Praise of Recycling, Gardening, Green Building and Chickens

November 14, 2010

America Recycles Day is November 15…make the most of it

Like Christmas, America Recycles Day comes around only once a year. Geez, I hope that most of you recycle a little more often than that. But it is our annual reminder of how important indivdual and group recycling efforts are. ARD hasn’t been celebrated all that long–since 1997. And, of course, I have a stake in recycling because I’m the president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition. In case you’re wondering, I don’t make a dime for holding that position. In fact, I generally lose money. But I digress.

Statewide, the recycling mission is being furthered by the Illinois Recycling Association. I’m pleased to have IRA Executive Director Mike Mitchell back in the studio to talk about the various ways our neighbors, friends, employees and customers can get involved in local recycling programs. One way is a new effort called the Dell Reconnect Program. Consumers can drop off any brand of used computer and technology equipment at participating Goodwill donation centers located across Illinois, not to mention the rest of the U.S. and parts of Canada.

Meanwhile, the IRA website is chock full of helpful links and videos about recycling and ways that average citizens can reduce their consumption of wasteful products and packaging. Among the most interesting are RECYCLING WORKS: A Toolkit for Reducing Waste in the Workplace (pdf) and the Virtual Tour Videos of of various recycling facilities across Illinois.

The 2010 Chicago Gardener of the Year:
The Joy Garden at Northside College Preparatory High School

I was pleased to be part of the final Mayor Daley’s Landscape Awards Ceremony last week at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. It’s the final, not because the city will no longer be presenting gardening awards (I hope), but because Richard M. Daley has decided not to run for re-election and there will be a different mayor next year.

It appears to me that, especially when it comes to recent environmental events, Hizzoner is taking a bit of a victory lap. He is warmly received and is obviously enjoying the accolades that are coming his way. Of course, Chicago still doesn’t have anything resembling an effective recycling system, and the city is still in a fiscal hole, but I can understand why gardeners and envrionmental types are getting a little weepy about the thought of not having Richie Daley around to promote the green agenda. But I digress…again.

As I have for the past umpteen years, I’m talking to the Chicago Gardener of the Year on my radio show. And, as occasionally happens, the winner is not a single person but a group of people. This time, it’s the folks who are responsible for the Joy Garden at Northside College Preparatory High School at 5501 N Kedzie Avenue. Two of those people are Nick Petty and Mike Repkin, who were designers and project coordinators for the garden.

Interestingly, the Joy Garden is just part of a larger Master Plan for NCPHS being developed by Urban Habitat Chicago. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Mike Repkin and other UHC members were on this show at the end of September. Small world, eh?

Others who are likely to be in-studio on Sunday morning are Bathsheeba Birman, Student parent and President of Urban Wildlife Coalition UWC; Lee Bouchard, Urban Habitat Chicago UHC executive director; Mike Coy, NSPHS Teacher; and students Luis Mesa, Edgar Ortege and Ariel Basora. I don’t know exactly who will show up. Hey, we don’t have room for them anyway!

Get ready for a week of Greenbuild 2010

As I reported several weeks ago, Greenbuild 2010, returns to Chicago November 17-19 at Chicago’s McCormick Place West. In case you didn’t know, Greenbuild, presented by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Thousands of building professionals from all over the world come together at Greenbuild for three days of outstanding educational sessions, renowned speakers, green building tours, special seminars, and networking events.

However, It’s nice to see that the expo doesn’t just feature architecture and green building materials. On Saturday, November 20, there will be a half day tour called Growing Green Jobs in Urban Farming, which will take people to various urban agriculture sites in Chicago. These include The Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator that houses 14 green companies, including The Plant Chicago, which grows food using aquaponics, providing locally-raised tilapia to restaurants in the area, and the Growing Home Urban Farm and Job Training Center, which is the first certified organic farm in Chicago.

Of course, this is a five-day event, and there’s more on the docket than I can possibly talk about in one short radio segment. I’ll leave that to Lois Vitt Sale, Chair of the GreenBuild Chicago Host Committee. She’ll tell us about the speakers, including General Colin L. Powell, who is the keynote speaker on Wednesday, November 17 at 8:30 a.m. There are also educational sessions and more events than you’ll have time to attend.

Good Growing: The chickens are back! (Did they ever go away?)

The Good Growing correspondent this week is Martha Boyd, who is the program director for the Chicago Urban Initiative of the Angelic Organics Learning Center. She’s reporting on the growing popularity of raising chickens in and around Chicago. Is this a fad? Or a lasting contribution to the urban agriculture culture?

Here are some recent developments and events. Judge for yourself.

I still think that anything to do with chickens is funny. But it might just be good for us, too.