Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jingle Bell Recyclables

Scissors snipping, scraps flying and creative juices flowing, so went our ever popular "Holiday Crafting With Recyclables" workshop.  This year's project included made over Altoid tins, Olde English Crackers, Christmas Card pendants, and Glittered Snowflake Ornaments.  NO project is too difficult, and even the uncraftiest of people enjoy this workhop.  The purpose of which is twofold: firstly, to demonstrate how items can be reused or have their life extended before tossing them out and secondly, to show how money can be saved  for the holiday. 

Christmas music playing in the background to set the mood, participants quietly focused on their projects, speaking only to compare designs or ask questions.  The easiest and most interesting project proved to be the English Crackers made from toilet paper rolls covered in scraps of Christmas wrap, filled with candy and made to pop when opened.

 Linda Ruxton, a member of SETF, carefully designed, wrapped and tied her Cracker only to discover after she was done that she had left the candy out! 

Joe Mulac,  a resident of the Vet's Park Neighborhood, carefully cut and glittered his snowflake ornament with a ton of glue.

Young Maya Bansett carefully selected the perfect Christmas card for her pendant for when it was completed all agreed it was one of the most stunning.

Beatriz Diaz, our intern brought friends and family who by all appearances had a good time and did a great job.

The two hours we allotted for the workshop flew by.  After enjoying hot chocolate and cookies, the group cleaned up and was eager to display their works of art. 

It's time to start searching for next years ideas - we never want to have to duplicate projects.

Linda Cook, SETF Board Member , shares some basic intructions.

Everyone was so focused.

The challenge was to express your individuality.

Limited materials made the projects that much more challenging.

Some were more precise than others.

A great way to spend a Friday evening.

Making suggestions.

The group proudly displays their end products.

Southeast Side Rallies Against More Dirty Industry

On Saturday, November 19th, members of the Southeastside Environmental Justice Alliance rallied with residents and consumers against the proposed Coal Gasification Plant. The plant, which will cost 3 billion dollars plus to construct, will chemically process coal and pet coke into syngas, and produce tons of the greenhouse gas, CO2 that will have to be sequestered underground. Not all CO2 or other emissions will be captured, and other hazardous pollutants that cannot be extracted for profit will be captured and disposed of accordingly. By comparison, using natural gas is cheaper and less polluting.

Tired of polluting, smelly, and dirty industry, residents spoke out against the project asking instead for greener industries and job opportunities.

After brief statements from representatives of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, Green Seed Energy, the Juan Diego Center, the Blue-Green Alliance, the People for Community Recovery and the Eastside Methodist Church, participants marched up and down Avenue 0 welding signs to call attention to the issue. Many drivers passing by honked their horns in empathy.

For additional stories go here about rally and gasifcation plants:

and here:
and here:

Linda Ruxton, resident and member of the Southeast Environmental Task Force constructs sign.
Posting signs along Avenue O.
Allison Fisher and Mike Star make a statement.

Pastor Zaki of the Eastside Methodist Church reminds residents that they should have a voice in their community.
"We want clean air, we want clean industy, we want new technology,' states Cheryl Johnson of People for Community Recovery.
Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force.

Tom Conway of the Blue Green Alliance

Getting ready to march.

Rally particpants march along Avenue O.

Marchers enthusiastically display their signs.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Last Tour of the Season

It was the last tour of the season, and it couldn't have been a more perfect fall day. Our tour focused on energy production in the Calumet Region for as far back as the 1800's, when Standard Oil located it's kerosene refinery in Whiting Indiana, energy has been produced in our area.  Today, within a 10 mile radius, we have the Stateline Power Plant, the much expanded BP Refinery, the Excelon Peaker plant, the  methane producing landfills and the Excelon Solar Farm.  Our Toxics to Treasures tour offered the opportunity to see these industries up close. 

Tom Shepherd of the Task Force begins the tour with little tidbits of information about the local culture.

Miles of pipes, pungent odors, steely structures, and burning flares signify the BP Refinery.

Unsuspecting paddlers in Lake Michigan near the BP Refinery.  Expansion project for tar sands evident by crane in the background.

Proposed site of Coal Gasification Plant.  Stack from old coke plant can be seen.

Site of Excelon Solar Farm.  Sign indicated native and sustainable landscaping.

The group disembark  from trolley to get a closer look at the solar farm and to compare sights, smells and sounds to older industries.

Participants pose for group shot.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Youth Group from Faith in Place Tours Southeast Chicago with SETF

Katy Regalado, a youth leader with Faith in place along with fourteen students ages 8-13 were given a Toxic to Treasures tour of the Southeast side by SETF. Member Tom Shepherd along with our Noyce Scholarship Intern, Beatriz Diaz, guided the group through through the wetland complex pointing out areas like Indian Ridge Marsh and Big Marsh and providing important facts about these locations and ecosystems. Beatriz focused on the nearby landfills, their past and current uses and the students experienced first hand the enormity of the trash filled hills.

Boarded and eager to get started with Tour.

Tom Shepherd, SETF member and tour docent, continues discussion while students eat lunch.
Intern Beatriz Diaz conducts a post activity with students.


About ten years ago, South Chicago resident Karen Roothaan founded Trees R Beautiful in her economically and ecologically distressed neighborhood. Karen, a self-described environmental activist who teaches math to pay the bills, had successfully co-founded an award winning community vegetable garden, the Bush Community Garden of Hope, before going on to start the urban forestry project.

Karen was not your typical tree hugger, however. She made it her mission to raise awareness about the importance of trees, and to recruit others in the neighborhood to assist in the greening of southeast Chicago. The group she founded sent no less than ten local people through the Openlands Project's Treekeeper Program, an intensive study in how to plant, nurture, and maintain trees.

Seeking local support, and in need of an established 501(c)(3) organization to act as fiscal agent, Karen brought her concept to the Southeast Environmental Task Force which enthusiastically embraced and endorsed the project.

Now in its tenth year, Trees R Beautiful was presented with the 2011 Friends of the Parks Volunteer Community Group Award, primarily for their tree plantings and stewardship of the trees along the Burnham Greenway on Chicago's east side.

Recently, Karen passed the leadership of the Trees program on to neighbor and collleague Daniel Estrada, who brings his team of 11 family members to the greening effort, helping to build an organization that will pass to the next generation of southeast-siders.

Pictured Trees R Beautiful Members: Karen Roothaan, David Vance, John Pastirik, Tom Shepherd of SETF, Mary Eileen Sullivan of Friends of the Parks and group leader Daniel Estrada with several members of the Estrada family.

Tom Shepherd

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Final Toxic Tour of the Season

Our final Toxic Tour of the season is scheduled for Saturday, November 12, 2011, the theme of which is Energy Production in the Calumet Region.

If you ever wondered where the energy comes from when you flick on a light switch or turn your key in the ignition, this tour is for you.  We will take you to electric plant and refinery sites throughout the Calumet Region.  Sites very few people see or think about.  You'll get to compare firsthand how solar farms compare to coal fired electric plants and hear about their impact on the local communities and beyond. 

So join us for this trolley tour through Southeast Chicago, Northwest Indiana and West Pullman.  Tour departs from our office.  Please arrive by 9:30 am for coffee and sign-in.

Toxic to Treasures Tour - Energy Production in the Calumet Region
Saturday, November 12, 2011
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
cost:  $25.00 per person

Call 773-646-0436 for more information or register by clicking on the Paypal button below.