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CTA Changes Keep Riders On Their Toes

by Jasmine Hunt 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by an advanced student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

I had to register at Malcolm X College for the fall 2013 semester to continue my educational career towards becoming a paramedic. I do not care for the registration process because it takes a long time. After purchasing my books, taking my ID picture and getting my class schedule, I stood in this gigantic line waiting to get my U-Pass for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

That was the last time I’ll have to go through that process.

That’s because like all of the city, the City Colleges are transitioning to the Ventra pass for riding the CTA. The Ventra pass for students is a blue card with your picture and a magnetic stripe on it. The way it’s supposed to work is you hold it in front of the machine and it automatically reads it and gives you the “go” signal. If there’s a problem, you get a red signal.

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My First Kayaking Trip

by Jasmine Hunt 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation:

On a sunny day in early August, my journalism class and I went on a kayaking trip in the Chicago River. I haven’t been swimming all summer and I am not an experienced swimmer, to say the least, so it was all fun and games until I actually sat in the kayak and the water started to rock my boat.

Noah Stein with Chicago River Canoe and Kayak was our instructor and showed us the correct paddling form and motion. My colleagues and I signed a release form that acknowledged all the dangers, saying the facility would not be held responsible if we acquired any injuries.

Everyone put on their life jackets and had a paddling tutorial. Each person helped one another with taking the kayaks down to the dock to put them out on the water. There were the single-person kayaks and two-person ones. I was in a kayak by myself. Noah held on the side of it as I prepared to enter. The water was hitting the side and I began to rock. You have to get used to the motion.

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Asian Carp is a Man-Made Issue

by Jasmine Hunt 

Notre Dame’s environmental scientist Chris Jerde discusses invasive species with the Eco Youth Reporters. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Asian carp was seen as a quick and easy solution to help clean up some fish farm ponds near the Mississippi River. But as they have made their way toward the Great Lakes, they created a whole different issue. The Asian carp has a giant appetite: It eats everything, which means that it changed the food chain and natural rhythm of the rivers and lakes.

Asian carp has been around for awhile. With large mouths and the ability to filter feed, the carp were originally brought from China to clean up the lakes that serve as fish farms in Arkansas. The Arkansas floods in the 1970s caused the fish farms to break open and the Asian carp got into the Mississippi River. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1970 and people were focused on improving the water quality. So people knew Asian carp could be a problem. Asian Carp are found all over the world and there are many in Canada’s water sheds. 

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Pilsen Gets Environmental Justice

by Jasmine Hunt 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Dvorak Park is a very grassy, wide expanse of trees and benches, a playground for young children with an outdoor pool located in the Pilsen neighborhood, which is home to many Mexican immigrants. Rising above the park is the tall, light-colored brick smokestack of the Fisk coal power plant. Next to the smokestack is the red brick building where coal was burned to produce electricity for 109 years.
Since 1903, the plant has provided power for Chicago. And for many years, it was the number one source of pollution in the city, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune.
Jerry Mead-Lucero is a founding member and organizer of the group Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reformation Organization (PERRO). We met with Mead-Lucero in August 2012 on the day after the Fisk power plant had been closed and the Crawford coal-burning power plant a few miles away in the Little Village neighborhood was scheduled to close the next week.
There have been 55 premature deaths each year linked to the power plant, along with hundreds of asthma attacks and people hospitalized because of pollution from the plant, according to a study by a scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2001. Respiratory issues are frequently caused by coal, fly ash, soot, mercury, lead (which is a neurotoxin) and other particles emitted from the coal plant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »

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Preserving History and Ecology

by Jasmine Hunt 

Eco Youth Reporters Jasmine Hunt and David Cal interview a passerby at Harry Palmisano Park. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

The Bridgeport and Pilsen neighborhoods on Chicago’s Near South Side are heavily industrial, with factories, highways, railroad tracks and warehouses. The area used to be famous for the stockyards and slaughterhouses depicted in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Bubbly Creek, which runs through the area, got its name from the decomposing bodies of animals from the slaughterhouses.
But in the middle of all this industry there are pockets of nature where people enjoy the outdoors.
On Halsted Street in the Bridgeport neighborhood – home of Mayors Richard M. and his father Richard J. Daley – Henry C. Palmisano Nature Park is an oasis created on a former limestone quarry and landfill. To the north you can see the smokestack of the Fisk coal-burning power plant, which closed down this year. When you enter the park from Halsted, you see limestone boulders where fossils are located. There are also native plants with deep roots that hold large amounts of water in the soil. During rain storms the native plants hold the water and prevent it from flooding or contaminating other areas. A drain pipe sends storm water into a wetland in the park, where the plants clean the water as it filters through. Metal stairs align parts of the park near a pond created by part of the quarry with steep walls. Rabbits and monarchs inhabit the park. Attention-grabbing graffiti on a park wall proclaims “I Love you! Don’t you ever question that” with a big painted heart. Read more »

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Putting Animal Cruelty In Perspective

by Jasmine Hunt , Youth Reporter from Ujima

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

A responsible pet owner is someone who provides food, water and shelter for their pet. This combined with attention, love and care can create a positive environment for years of long lasting companionship.

Unfortunately, some animals never get a chance to experience this situation.

Various types of animal cruelty can destroy and prevent some pets and animals from having a healthy and fulfilling life.

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