Ecology news

Dear Gardeners!

Except for tomorrow, we will be gathering each Saturday in October for Garden Stewardship, from 10:00 until 12:00. Tomorrow I would like to invite you to join me at the Riverbank Neighbor Natural Area at Berteau and the River. This was a workday that I had already posted. It will be an enjoyable day in a beautiful place. We will be pruning and weeding.  Bring pruners and gloves if you have them. I have extras. Next week we will be back  at Waters.
Again, thank you for the extraordinary work you have done this past week. Beautiful.

Above is the flyer that describes the planning session that we will do on the patio next Wednesday. I hope you can join us for this visioning process.
Below are previous emails.
The best to you, 
Pete

Last… official…Wednesday night

This might be the last… official…Wednesday night… garden night of the season!
One of the things about the Equinox is that at this time the rate of change of the length of the day is at its height. the shortening of the daylight hours peaks at Equinox, and it is one reason we feel the TURN of the season, it is swift! 
So, we are in a daylight time squeeze, especially for garden night, less time for work, less time for food, and talk.
So, I suggest that we switch, in October, to Saturday  gatherings, 10:00 until 12:00, with food and friendship lasting as long as people wish it. 
Still there is lots to do. 
I want to finish installing the split rail fencing on the North side of the North swale.
There is still pruning and binding and trellising to do in Journeys and Refuge, Garden AND the planting of ferns, AND the building of crafty twig fencing;
There is pruning, weeding and tying to be finished on the raspberries on the west side of the Annex.

Also, I want to invite you to a gathering next Wednesday, Oct 6, at 5:00, on the Patio to talk about how to improve our signage, our placemaking, our appreciation for our magical garden, led by garden friend Stephen Yoshida .

Talk about appreciation, I want to thank you all for making the garden so beautiful this year. The work and care that you have given the garden are so extraordinary. Jules says that we should never forget to thank and raise up people who have done so much, but I get worried I will forget someone and that they will be hurt. Quandary. Thanks you for the watering! The weeding! The wood chipping! The fence building! The transplanting! The cooking! The burning! The Love and Friendship. From the youngest to the oldest, thank you with all my heart.  You ARE the Garden. 

Below are previous garden emails
Pete

The Fall Equinox is here

The Fall Equinox is here, marking another milestone in our celestial cycle. Equal parts night and day. The Sun rising directly east and setting directly west. The Lakefront is the best place to welcome the Sunrise, and Horner Park hill not a bad place to watch it set. Today it will be cloudy and windy, but above the clouds the movement of the Sun goes on. However you mark this day, know that you are linked to billions on earth who recognize it as a unifying moment.

We will be working in the garden today at 5:00. I won’t be there until 6:15, but other garden leaders will be there to direct the work. There are wood chips to carry to the Journeys and Refuge Garden, the area along the Gym that was cleared last week. And we will start installing split rail fencing along the north edge of the north swale. 
It begins to get dark at 7:00 so our time together is getting scrunched.  It has been suggested that we switch to Saturdays for the next month or so. Maybe.

Pete

I also wanted to let you know that there will be a Montrose Point Workday this Saturday. This message from Steward Leslie Borns:

Please join us for our next stewardship workday on Saturday, September 25, from 9 a.m. until noon. We have some exciting activities planned. This date is also National Public Lands Day, when volunteers nationwide go to parks and natural areas to celebrate healthy environments and conservation of public lands by helping to restore and improve them.

On the 25th, our main activity will be translocating Marram Grass (Ammophila breviligulata) from the main beach to the new habitat addition. We don’t often do plantings at Montrose Beach Dunes, so this is an opportunity to have some fun and get your hands deep in the sand. Marram Grass is likely the most important plant species of the dune/swale ecosystem because its vast, lateral root system stabilizes sand and allows more complex vegetation to take hold; this also forms the elevations that create dunes. Marram Grass already exists inside the habitat addition, but we would like to stabilize things further along the rock wall, so we’re introducing more plants at the west end which will eventually grow together. We need all hands on deck for the planting, so I hope many of you can attend!

On the 25th, we meet at the sidewalk next to the handicapped parking lot east of the Montrose Beach House. Weather may be cooler, so please bring a warm layer, plenty of sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat. We provide tools, water, sanitizer, and packaged snacks at the basecamp.

Free parking passes are available for the workday, so if you need one drive up to the beach sidewalk and pick one up. Place it on your dashboard and park in the central, fenced lot opposite Montrose Harbor (not in the paid parking spaces along Harbor Drive).

I look forward to seeing you again as we prepare the dunes for the expected return of Monty and Rose next Spring and celebrate National Public Lands Day!

Dear Waters Gardeners and School Families,

We are blessed to have some cool, clear, Fall weather this evening after a very long and hot and humid summer. Our gardens are mostly healthy and productive. My first class came out on Tuesday, Kindergardeners, to learn the Garden Rules, have a book read-aloud, and enjoy the cherry tomatoes and fragrant herbs. 
We have done alot of work to prepare our grounds for the beginning of school. This is especially important because outdoor education has a big part to play in keeping our kids safe and healthy while at school. We have created many nooks and crannies for groups of students to talk, read, discuss, do art and music. In a sense, we have created a way to lower class size, and keep our distancing.

We still have two major projects to finish (and many smaller ones).
1) Complete the restoration of the Journeys and Refuge Garden by the school entrance. This means more weeding, clearing of paths, training of raspberries, planting and wood chipping. When completed (soon!) it will be a jewel! Truly a place of Refuge and Peace.
2) Complete the Snake and Turtle mounds path by building a gazebo entrance and exit way, and creating beautiful and durable signage to explain its meaning.  We may be installing (post-hole digging) posts at the “Head” end of the path this evening, or in the near future. The S&T Mounds tell an important story about the place where our school stands today.

We will also be making a fire at the fire pit to burn brush and cook snacks. Gardeners are welcomed to bring food to share and to help organize this social opportunity to make and deepen friendships. Garden volunteer and Permaculturist Stephen Yoshida, is interested in organizing a project to create more and better signage for the garden. Anyone interested in getting together to discuss this project, please look for Stephen tonite, or talk to me, Pete.

We usually work from 5-7:00 or so and then start to prepare food, talk, AND play music. Bring your guitar, or tuba and play or sing for our garden and neighbors.

See you this evening, 
Pete

Garden night is 5-7 tonight

Garden night is 5-7 tonight, ending early because a chemical called Etofenprox (Zenivex) will be sprayed by the city.

We do need extra help getting the garden ready for a school event on Friday, so please come between 5 and 7 if you can.

The City announced that it plans to spray our Neighborhood tonite with a pesticide to kill mosquitoes.
Our ecology program is about making good choices to protect the ecosystem for the sake of the planet and humanity’s future. 

In years past, I was part of a group of many neighbors, including scientists and many Waters families and members of the 47th Ward Green Council, and Riverbank Neighbors, who worked for years on this issue. 
Many people questioned if prevention would be safer and more cost effective.  As a result, the city sprayed less. Some years, they didn’t spray at all, but simply monitored the mosquito population. The city Dept of Environment hosted a conference titled “Mosquito Control in the Green City” which I attended with other local leaders. We learned quite a bit.

Years ago, we asked the city to fund prevention and create jobs to go door to door to educate and help people to find solutions to standing water, block by block, neighborhood, by neighborhood, assisting them where need be. It could save the city millions of dollars and would reduce the burden of the effects of the spray on humans or the ecosystem.

We have been here before when West Nile first arrived. Pesticides were sprayed up and down every street. Some neighbors protested and one brave young man blocked the spray truck with his bicycle.  The spray trucks sprayed baby strollers and parents out for evening stolls,  people eating at sidewalk cafes, kids riding bikes, people with asthma. They did not spray each street only once. Some streets (Montrose and Lincoln) were sprayed at least 6 times in one night.  They may have killed alot of mosquitoes but the next morning window sills were covered by a wide variety of flying insects, collateral damage.  We also know that the day after spraying, new larvae will hatch and be out and about. Mass spraying as a strategy makes it look like the government is responding with strength, like the US going into Afghanistan. It is also a nice fat contract for some chemical company. 
Is there alternative? Yes! You could employ thousands of young people to go door to door to explain mosquito abatement techniques and to remind the vulnerable to avoid going out at dusk, and to wear long sleeves and repellent. Look for standing water in random containers around your yard, and in gutters.

If you care about this issue, please join and support the work of the Green Council and other environmental groups.

I would like to stop work tonite at 7:00 so we can avoid being sprayed. 
We will try to harvest what we can from the Waters organic garden before it is all coated in pesticide.

More news about school and ecology below..

but first, a poem..

note: anvil was the old spray, the new spray in 2021 has a new name that doesn’t rhyme in this poem and isn’t as memorable, so we’ll just call it anvil for short.

Anvil Cocktails for All

by Pete Leki

(click to hear the poem read by the author):


It's Summer in the City
And the crickets sing at night
The jets roar in the wispy clouds
But things just don't seem right…
without some…

Anvil whining down the block
Just as we sit down for dinner
Whoever got that Anvil contract
Sure turned out a winner

We get Anvil on our salsa
All up in our posole
Anvil on our pollo
Quesadillas, guacamole

Anvil on the kiddies
On Darwin, Zach and Ella
Anvil on the popsicles
And on that homeless fella

Anvil sprayed on grannies
And on the pregnant ladies
On birds and dogs and dragonflies
On daddies pushing babies

Anvil at the cafes
On your pesto and risotta
Anvil in your fine Merlot
And in your mineral water

"Don't worry. It won't hurt you."
The Public Health guys say
"And if you do get cancer
That will be years away

You can't blame it on the Anvil
Not with the toxic air
You're breathing in this City
There's already poison there:

Lead, asbestos, ozone,
Diesel fumes and soot
Mercury and arsenic
Is it so bad to put

A little bit on Anvil
Into the toxic bile?
At least we're doing something
To try to stop West Nile.

We need to show we're active
Like going off to war
Even tho the enemy
Is as toxic as the cure."

So bring it on, don't fear it.
Spray all over me,
I'm sure that it is harmless
Like Raid and DDT.

The kids are coming back!

In just 5 days school will re-commence
I hope to get ready by fixing up the garden, protecting it and explaining it.
Here are some of the strategic tasks I hope to get done :

Open the Snake and Turtle Garden ~ these are two mounds in the shape of a Snake and Turtle, behind (south of) the huge net by the sports field. This garden has an educational aspect regarding the origin story of our school and garden, and the river and wetlands that once occupied this space. I would like the entrance and exit to be a bit mysterious, and marked with signage explaining the Legend of Snake and Turtle, and asking visitors to be gentle, stepping only on the pavers that line the back of the mounds. I would like to regularly water S&T for the next 2 weeks to try to have all bare soils covered with plants (at least grass). I want to build a more whimsical entry and exit, a portal to remember the beauty of wild places. 

Re-do the kiosks with new art and information. 

Finish rehabbing the Journeys and Refuge Garden. Add signage explaining its history and meaning. Finish digging out the paths and fill with new wood chips. Prune bushes and vines and tie new canes to support wires. Trim the vines on the brick walls to keep windows clear, 

Chokeberry area: install 3-4 new stumps in the wood chipped area. These need to be buried about 6-8 inches for stability. We will weed and  re-chip this whole area and put signage identifying the chokeberries and beautiful Musclewood tree, Blue Beech, to honor and protect them. 

I want to put up a temporary fence along the northside walkway of the new swale to try to keep it from being trampled and eroded.

Finally, signage has always been a problem for us. All weather, long lasting, eco-friendly, informative and beautiful signage. Any ideas?


See you at Garden Night, tonite at 5:00.

Waters Student Present to the Citywide River Conference

Dear Friends, Three Waters 6th Graders, Lucy, Lucinda, and Ameer, will be presenting to the Chicago River Student Congress this Saturday. They will be explaining how the river and sewage system are linked, from house and street, to treatment plant and  Deep Tunnel before returning to the river. Thanks to Ms. Walsh for making this possible.The Congress is virtual, open and free. Students and others may register at:
https://www.chicagoriver.org/programs/education-and-outreach/chicago-river-schools-network/student-congress

Phenology and EphemeralsHere is a link to the latest spring wildflowers to bloom in Waters Garden.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1IOVJHR8Cjta1HgM8wrbf8D-3oS9pwFQsfxrQsnVHe48/edit?usp=sharing

Mr. Leki

Piping Plovers, Screech Owls, and Phenology

Dear Friends, The earth is reborn, fresh and new!In our garden, a parade of rare and beautiful native flowers are revealing themselves, day by day. I have asked our students to seek them out, to sketch them and record the date of bloom. This is a branch of ecology called Phenology, the timing of biological events. One way to take the pulse of Nature. Have a look! Slides 2-12 are blooming or have already bloomed in our garden.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1IOVJHR8Cjta1HgM8wrbf8D-3oS9pwFQsfxrQsnVHe48/edit?usp=sharing


Chalk one up for the Plovers! Last week the Chicago Park District acceded to the urgent requests of birders, restorationists and our middle school students and teachers, to add permanent protection to the part of the Montrose Dune Natural Area that has been the nesting area for the endangered Piping Plovers! The Graff family celebrated by doing a trash pick up at Montrose Point! Well done!

Abbie, Sylvie, and Grandmother Graff.jpg

Screech!

Elizabeth K and students Leighton and Corinne alerted me to the presence of a clutch of Screech owls in our neighborhood! If we open our eyes, who

Baby Screech Owl.jpg

 knows what we will see. What a gift. Thank You!
Please visit watersecology.org, for news, ecology lesson resources K-8, films and photos,
Mr. Leki