Director of the Waters Ecology Film Project
For many of the Waters community, she’s invisible, behind the scenes making the films and doing other organizing work, such as the website, event organizing, and communication.
She’s a former science teacher, who’s been an organizer for environmental and social justice in Chicago for 20 years, mainly through Waters Ecology, Riverbank Neighbors, Beyond Today, the Ward 47 Green Council, and the Great Lakes Bioneers.
In the past, the Waters garden community was largely involved in Beyond Today, which was a split off of Riverbank Neighbors for people who wanted to do activism along with their gardening. Jules was the main organizer for 10 years (2003-2013) and co-led the group with Pete Leki and other neighbors such as Kevin Anderson, Ann Breen-Greco, and Jerry Jaecks. She organized educational events, town hall meetings, film showings, vigils, petitions, parades, and street theater. Julie’s work with Beyond Today focused on pesticide reduction, environmental justice, affordable housing, peace, sustainability, and resiliency. Jules organized and moderated over 50 “Green Dinner ” environmental conversations with special guest who were leaders of local organizations, such as Randy Neufeld, then of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the late James Thindwa of Jobs with Justice, Dave Kraft of NEIS, and supported the Waters Ecology program, the garden, and Riverbank Neighbors with complementary efforts.
She also founded the Waterside Co-op in 2005, located across the street from the garden, a few doors from Sunnyside and Campbell. She managed the co-op for 8 years, until 2013. The house served as affordable housing for Waters garden interns and community members and as a community center and meeting space for Waters Garden, Riverbank Neighbors, and Beyond Today. This massive, rambling 100 yr old Victorian house was host to three years of summer interns and the Riverbank Neighbor seed bank. It was full of music, intellectual and non-intellectual debate.
Julie served on the Board of the Great Lakes Bioneers, co-organizing 2 large environmental conferences in Chicago, weaving together a program where local and worldwide sustainability leaders were brought together to share ideas with the local community.
She was Chair of Alderman Pawar’s Environmental Transition Team and Coordinator of the Green Council from 2010 to 2013 and continued to be involved in Alderman Matt Martin’s Green Council until the present day. She’s especially humbled by her opportunity to play a role in the passage of The Declaration of a Climate Emergency by Chicago’s city council in 2020.
Jules has been a presenter at a number of conferences including Wild Things and Bioneers, and been interviewed on CANTV and the Heartland Radio show. She’s been recognized with newspaper articles for her work in the fields of environmentalism, social justice, advocating for rape survivors in the courts, and fighting radioactive contamination of groundwater and nuclear power plants.