July 8th, 2022
Peter Rutkowski, Principal
4540 N. Campbell
Chicago, Illinois 60625
Dear Mr. Rutkowski,
Hello. I’m writing this letter to encourage you, if possible, to not do that percentage cut in the Ecology program at Waters School, & in The Garden . . . . . and please let me tell a few reasons why.
But first, let me tell you who I am, quickly, if you would.
I’ve lived here in Lincoln Square since 1989, growing up in Lincoln Park before it was fancy, & mostly living in Chicago; I served on Waters School Council for one year, & run a small business. I’ve had a spot in Waters Garden since about 1990.
Altho I have no children, they seem to take to me mightly, & bond with me greatly . . . . over the years, so many have “hung out” with me as I gardened, & worked with me on projects. I saw some of the Kids grow up. And I keep running into them, either in my leisure time or as I travel to work with my clients.
I ran into, on four separate occasions, former Students who were out in the world, working, & they remembered me, and told me what I’ll now tell you, that which shows how inspiring, how lovely, how wonderful The Garden & the Teachings gleaned from the Ecology Program were to them, the influence it had upon them:
One woman is now a Marine Biologist . . . she sat & had a cup of coffee with me, & told me that Pete’s support of the student’s curiosity led her to choose this field . . . & she has a small garden.
Another woman is a Lawyer, working toward becoming a Judge . . . . she said that the time she spent learning about Nature gave her a quietude whereby she could consider what to be when she grew up . . . . she has a small garden, and she composts & is teaching her son to garden, & think & question, as she was taught.
One man, (20 years old), works in a grocery store, & has convinced his boss to use recycling systems inspired by what he learned here at Waters, & his co-workers enjoy the recycling . . . . he values the beauty that he saw here, & how he learned to work hard, very hard, but comfortably . . . . he still lives at home, and his Parents have a garden.
And the fourth former Waters student I ran into is still in college, and has a window box at school, & a rather big shelf in her room, with herbs. She’s creating a lecture series, just for fun, to hold for her dorm-mates . . . . and she remembers the Trees here at Waters, & being given a child sized shovel to work with.
Here you have it, then, four concrete examples of Students who were helped, wonderfully well, and who were made happy by the program, by The Garden.
As well, adults have popped by to visit, who speak of how happy, calmed, contented they’ve been made over the years by rich glory of The Garden.
I’ve sent Folks to The Garden, complete strangers with I’d struck up a conversation in The Square, or in Andersonville, who later told me how enchanted they were by it.
At this point, you’ve probably scads of letters, of E-mails, from Parents who say that one of the reasons that they sent their Kids to Waters was because of the Ecology Program & The Garden, so I’ll not recount any of those conversations which I’ve heard . . . . I’ll tell you now of my love for this Garden, it’s semi-formal, always practical, & lush beauty: I adore it here. It is a small spot of The Great Forest, The Wild Garden, closer to us than La Baugh Woods or the Indiana Dunes, a place for the tired to pass by as they finish their
9 to 5 shift, a place for the Neighbors & Householders to sit, and gaze. I love it.
So, dear Principal, keep all that is here. It is working. And it is wonderful.
And no one works harder than Pete has, in building what is truly unique, & sensible.