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A New Start for the Indiana Dunes

by Cornelius Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Cornelius Jordan poses at the Indiana Dunes. Photo by Quintana Woodridge.

Birds, water, grass, rocks, squirrels, raccoons…it looks like a forest, but it is the Indiana Dunes State Park. There is a campground and lots of trees. And a parking lot under construction. That’s because the parking lot is being partly removed to return the space to its natural state.

Standing near the parking lot and a creek that runs into Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes State Park property manager Brandt Baughman said that in 2005 the flooded creek waters were as high as the people standing there. That was partly because where the creek is now used to be a huge parking lot.

As a way of restoring the natural surroundings, they took out the parking lot and restored the creek to its natural path. Before the creek had run under the parking lot. Now fewer people can park in the dunes but Baughman said it is worth it. He said it cost $7,000 to remove the parking lot, but “it turned out to be a good project.” Read more »

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Shedd Aquarium Showcases Invasive Species

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

An Asian Carp. Photo by Tyreshia Black.

I got a chance to visit the legendary world of wonders at the Shedd Aquarium recently. The aquarium holds multiple exhibits of all types of fascinating animals. When my colleagues, journalism teacher and I arrived at the aquarium, we were introduced to Melissa Kruth, the public relations manager and Jillian Braun, a new intern. The two polite employees walked us through the huge crowds of busy people trying to view the beautiful creatures in each exhibit.

Braun and Kruth directed us to Kurt Hettiger, the senior aquarist at the Shedd Aquarium. He has worked there for approximately 19 years, two years as an intern and 17 years as a full-time employee. Hettiger has been working with mainly invasive species and endangered native animals including fish. Invasive species have been invading and intruding into large open areas of Lake Michigan. The most recent invasive fish categorized as an invasive species is the big head carp, which is a kind of Asian carp.

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The Fish of Lake Michigan

by Carlos Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

You see the line getting straight and moving around, so you start reeling it in. The fish tries to pull away, but eventually it comes up. Fishing in Burnham Harbor by Shedd Aquarium on July 6, the fish I pulled up were round gobies, bluegill and bass. Round gobies are an “invasive species” that eat the plankton and food that other fish need and they like to stay at the bottom of the lake. Invasive species come from another part of the world, like another lake or ocean, and they eat the other fishes’ food and cause a lot of trouble.

Before we went fishing we went to the Shedd Aquarium where we were talking about silver carp and big head carp, which are both types of Asian carp. They are also invasive species, coming to the Great Lakes up the Illinois River, but they are originally from Asia. Some things make them startled and make them jump out of the water, including loud noises that the boat motors make and rocks thrown in the water. When they jump out of the water they are so big that they hurt people they hit, sometimes seriously.

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Little Village Toxic Tour

by Makylia Anderson 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

The smoke stacks of the Crawford coal plant in Little Village look like giant chimneys. This is one of many pollution sources in Little Village, a small, mostly Mexican neighborhood on the Southwest Side that is affected by a lot of pollution and where finding a job is very hard.

Eco Youth reporters Makylia Anderson and Tyreshia Black reporting in Little Village. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

During a “Toxic Tour” with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), we saw different polluting industries including MRC, a plastics recycling plant that melts down car bumpers and other things. LVEJO has had many meetings about MRC.

Many people report breathing problems and there are also high rates of cancer, according to LVEJO, in the area around MRC and another facility, Meyer Steel Drum.

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Residents’ Journal Publisher on WBEZ

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Earlier today, We The People Media Executive Director Ethan Michaeli, who is also the publisher of the Residents’ Journal, was on Chicago Public Radio’s “848”program discussing new Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision – or lack thereof – for the always-turbulent Chicago Housing Authority. You can listen to that segment by clicking here: “Chicago Housing Authority residents await permanent leadership.”

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Former Youth Reporter, Now an Author!

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

Residents’ Journal/We The People Media is proud to announce the publication of “My Story,” by Chantell Suggs, a graduate of our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. As a student in the program, Chantell wrote about life in Chicago’s neighborhood. She has come a long way and we hope you will join us in celebrating her accomplishments at a special author event at Thalia Hall, 1227 W. 18th Street, this Thursday, July 28, at 5:50 pm.

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Historical Gallery: Barack Obama

by Quintana Woodridge 

We The People Media/Residents’ Journal takes a look at Barack Obama during his years in Illinois.

President Barack Obama announces the new Department of Health and Human Services director at the Chicago Hilton Hotel after the November 2008 General Election. Residents' Journal Photo by Mary C. Johns.

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary-nominee Arne Duncan in late 2008. Residents' Journal photo by Mary C. Johns.

President-elect Barack Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan in late 2008. Residents' Journal photo by Mary C. Johns.

Barack Obama at a presidential debate sponsored by the AFL-CIO at Soldier Field in August 2007. Residents' Journal photo by Mary C. Johns.

Natasha "Sasha" Obama holding a campaign sign during her father's 2004 bid for the U.S. Senate. Residents' Journal photo by Mary C. Johns.

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The Health Effects of Pollution in Pilsen

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Parents gathered in Pilsen on May 11 at the Casa Aztlan Community Center, 1831 S. Racine, to get information on how to try to keep their children safe from lead poisoning and other sources of pollution in the Near Southwest Side neighborhood.

People at the meeting were extremely concerned about lead from the smelter H. Kramer and also about particles and other pollution from the Fisk coal burning power plant. Doctors and city health officials were also there.

Chicago public health department doctor Cortland J. Lohff informed the audience that lead is a dangerous compound that can cause poisoning depending on dosage. Children ages six months to six years old are most likely to get lead poisoning, according to Lohff. When they play in parks and playgrounds where there are high levels of lead in the soil, it can easily get into their systems and cause brain damage and behavioral problems.

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Lead and Coal Plants in Pilsen

by Cornelius Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

A coal-fired power plant in the Pilsen neighborhood. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

On May 11, angry and disappointed residents gathered at Casa Aztlan in Pilsen to hear about the risks from the Fisk coal plant and the H. Kramer brass smelter in their neighborhood.

Forty deaths a year and 550 emergency room visits are caused by Fisk and the city’s other coal plant in Little Village, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The coal plants were “grandfathered” in under the Clean Air Act that was signed in 1970. Grandfathered means it’s been there for a long time so it doesn’t have to equal up to the same standards as coal plants built these days.

Now a law is proposed that 25 aldermen are supporting which could force the power plants to shut down. The group Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) is trying to pass the ordinance.

At the meeting, residents said Ald. Danny Solis should stick to his promises since he won the run-off election in April after promising he would shut down the coal plants, or force them to clean up their emissions.

People at the meeting loudly questioned why Solis was not there personally and yelled at the representative he had sent, Steve Stults. They were treating him badly because they didn’t want him there, they wanted the alderman. Raker said Solis could not attend because of a scheduling conflict but is very committed to the issue.

Stacy Raker, a spokesperson for Solis, said the alderman will definitely keep his promise and that the ordinance will be reintroduced in City Council on July 28.

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Remembering Ms. Amey

by Mary C. Piemonte 

CHA Board Commissioner and tenant Hallie Amey (center) with former Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd Ward, from left), Cook County Commissioner John Daley and former CHA CEO Terry Peterson during a street naming ceremony in her honor on January 23, 2004. Residents' Journal archive photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Longtime public housing advocate Hallie Amey, 89, died Tuesday, July 19, 2011 from a long illness. Amey was first appointed a commissioner to the Chicago Housing Authority on July 7, 1999, by former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

She was reappointed by Daley on July 22, 2009. Amey, who was the president of the CHA Wentworth Gardens Resident Management Corporation, was also the secretary of the tenants’ Local Advisory Council at the South Side public housing development near U.S. Cellular Field.

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