Near North Montessori pupils plan garden

Planning an East Village garden is part of this year's curriculum at Near North Montessori School, 1434 W. Division. Students in this project will describe their assignment at Monday's East Village Association meeting. The students' statement follows; learn more at 7 p.m. in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott.

We have volunteered to be part of our school’s gardening committee. We have been presented with the task of starting a school farm that will feed our school community and provide lessons for our classrooms about where our food comes from.

The Rappes, former grandparents in our school community, have allowed us to use their vacant lots on Wood Street as a site for our school farm.

Since we are going to be neighbors, we wanted to let you in on our plans.

We plan on growing food organically all four seasons, making our own compost, holding classes outdoors, creating a sustainable irrigation system, and building natural, perennial ecosystems for students to play in.

There will be a lot of work to do to create our garden space and we plan to start soon.

The first step we are taking to make our space work is cutting the trees down and leveling out the terrain so it is adequate for planting vegetables, fruit, herbs, etc. The wood from the trees will be milled locally and used to create benches and tables as well as part of our fencing. We will also be making wood bowls and plates for eating the prized fruits of our labor.

We will be saving and pruning the crabapple tree suckers to cultivate the true apple. We will also be saving and pruning the mulberry; hopefully in the future we will gather berries. We will also be building hoop houses so we can farm all year round. This way there will always be work and food to harvest from the garden.

If you have any questions at all, please contact one of our teachers, Paul Guilianelli or Anna Viertel.

Banking on a recycling payoff

By Marjorie Isaacson 

Recycling in Chicago is easier than ever, if you're part of the minority of Chicago residents with the Blue Cart program. (The 1st Ward was an early adopter, but plans to expand Blue Cart recycling have been scaled back in the new city budget.)

Blue Cart is a single-stream recycling system. Different recyclable materials — paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and some plastics — all can be put in the cart together. This may sound like the notorious Blue Bag program, but it's not.

Instead of being co-mingled and contaminated with garbage, Blue Carts are collected with a separate truck and processed at a materials recovery and recycling facility (MRRF, pronounced "merf"). This type of high-tech mechanization has become the standard, and is the most economical way to process what are in reality valuable raw materials.

Like many environmentally minded people, I find recycling a very satisfying activity. It changes taking out the trash into a feel-good exercise. But statistics show not everyone feels this way. Most people recycle for economic reasons.

If trash collection is expensive, people recycle more. Historically, this has meant that people on both the East and West coasts recycle at much higher rates than people in the Midwest and South. Here in the middle of the country, where there is still plenty of vacant land, rates for dumping garbage are cheap.

The company RecycleBank is betting that people are motivated by money. It uses bar codes to track the number of recycled materials. Customers who recycle earn points toward coupons for national stores or brands.

RecycleBank is being tested on the South Side of Chicago in the 5th, 9th and 18th wards, including Beverly and Hyde Park. These neighborhoods are already have relatively good recycling rates. Beverly and Hyde Park had voluntary programs for years before recycling became a municipal service.

The RecycleBank field test began in August and will continue for six months, at which time the city will decide if it should be expanded.

Meanwhile, If you want a small piece of the action, RecycleBank has a new program called “curb-less accounts”. Go to and create an account. You are able to accumulate points for joining the Gconomy (green economy).

Even without the incentive of recycling points, recycling makes sense economically. No one can put an accurate price on the real long-term environmental costs of a landfill. It's never a good idea to bury garbage.

Need a reason to meet with Ald. Flores? Look around

President's Message by John Scheer 

The East Village has been very busy and the East Village Association has been right there with all that's happening. You can be part of it too, by joining the November EVA membership meeting. It's scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2 at the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott. Ald. Manny Flores (1st Ward) is scheduled to speak and will be a great source of information on current events and your community interests.

There was beautiful weather and a great turnout for the Renegade Art Fair. Some of the best crafts were on Division Street, with creative solutions to repurpose selected products. If you have interest in the future use of a major street, come to the November EVA meeting to share your thoughts with Ald. Flores.

Curbs are being dug up and replaced along Damen Avenue. This is the current fix when water consistently pools above the drains. Other street work is appearing on Division, Augusta and several other streets. If you have thoughts about this or any other city transportation initiatives, come to the next EVA meeting.

The Winchester Restaurant was given the green light for a zoning change to renovate a previously vacant property at Winchester and Chicago into a significant business enterprise. There is some evidence that the business plans have changed. After the City Council passed a zoning change, landlord Ken Lebovic says the Winchester project has not been abandoned and received building permits a few weeks ago. If you have interest in the scheduled renovation and future business options, check in with Ald. Flores at the next EVA meeting. (This paragraph contains corrected information, published October 31, 2009.)

The economic recovery is making progress. There are demolitions and new development on most blocks. The neighborhood is showing signs of resilience in spite of difficult financial times. At the same time, major developments have stopped work or bankrupted their LLC as well as their financial lender. If you're concerned about the safety of partially constructed, abandoned buildings like the project at Division and Honore, visit the EVA membership meeting to get the details from the 1st Ward alderman.

Chicago, Damen, Division and Ashland have some new businesses and some that will become memories. Greenheart has reached out the neighborhood to establish their trade and get engaged locally. The tavern Fuel seems to be history. If you want to know more about what’s coming and going in our neighborhood, stop by at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 and ask your alderman.

Chicago fair-trade promotion gets EVA support

Minutes for October 5, 2009 Membership Meeting
Submitted by Dana Palmer

Meeting Commenced at 7:07 p.m.

  1. Presentation by Allison Havens (pictured at right) with The Greenheart Shop, located at 1911 W. Division St. According to Ms. Havens, The Greenheart Shop is a non-profit organization that offers fair-trade and eco-friendly items for purchase. They are also part of Chicago Fair Trade and were started by the Center for Cultural Interchange.

  2. Secretary Report: Dana Palmer drafted a letter to request those past members whose membership status has lapsed to renew. Letter will be presented to board at next meeting for approval.

  3. Planning, Preservation and Development: Scott Rappe mentioned that there are plans to save most of the St. Boniface building to use for senior housing.

  4. Scott Rappe brought up to the group that a Community Sustainable Agriculture partnership called Homegrown Wisconsin is interested in having a drop site in the East Village neighborhood if they can get 25 people to participate. Information sheet and contact information was passed around.

  5. Aldermanic Liaison: A member of EVA brought up the issue of having trees placed on Augusta. According to Rich Anselmo, there was a plan drafted before to have bump-outs made for trees to be added to Augusta. Mr. Anselmo stated he would go to the alderman's office to re-raise this issue but requested to have a letter signed by EVA supporting the addition of trees.

  6. Membership: Steve Crane stated that he will be updating the membership list this week.

  7. Greg Nagel made a motion that EVA supports the Greenheart resolution for the City of Chicago to support the fair-trade declaration. Brodi Cole seconded the motion and the group unanimously voted in favor of the motion.

Minutes for Oct. 12 Board Meeting
Submitted by Dana Palmer

Attendance -- Board Members: John Scheer, Greg Nagel, Brodi Cole, Dana Palmer, Rich Anselmo, Steve Crane and Stephen Rynkiewicz; Non-Board Members: Marjorie Isaacson, Melissa Jennings, Tom DeBower and Jennifer DeBower. Meeting Commenced at 6:33 p.m.

  1. Alderman Flores is the possible guest speaker for the Nov. 2 membership meeting. Rich Anselmo has agreed to go to the alderman's office to receive a confirmation and to hand-deliver a list of topics or concerns that was generated to be discussed at the meeting. The list included pedestrian designation, trees for Augusta, and update on the Polish triangle, post office and walgreens as well as parking restriction changes. Dana Palmer agreed to type up the list of topics and email it to Rich Anselmo.

  2. Membership Initiatives: Dana Palmer drafted a letter that was reviewed and approved by the board to be sent to all current or past members of EVA on the membership list asking them to renew if they are past due. Ideas were also passed around about new member recruitment. Greg Nagel suggested making poster board signs that the board members would place around the neighborhood informing neighbors about upcoming EVA meetings and events. Greg Nagel will contact Kinkos to get an estimate on how much the signs would cost to have made.

  3. EVA Holiday: Suggestions were again passed around about where EVA should have their holiday dinner that would be held on Dec. 7. John Scheer stated that he would ask around to a few restaurants in the area about prices and availability. Some top suggestions were The Fifty/50 and Angels and Mariachis.

  4. Membership: Steve Crane stated that he is working on updating the membership list. Brodi Cole agreed to post the final draft on Pbwiki. Greg Nagel agreed to run a report to locate the new residents of East Village within the last six months so that a letter could be sent to them informing them of EVA and asking them to attend a meeting. Dana Palmer agreed to draft a letter for this purpose. Steve Crane agreed to be the one to send those letters out.

Nonprofit eco shop to tell EVA its story Monday

The fair-trade clothing, food, jewelry, accessories and children’s items at Greenheart Shop, 1911 W. Division, have roots on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, Spain.

There the nonprofit Greenheart organization has been involved in ecology, student-exchange, and music projects affiliated with Spain’s Fundación por el Futuro.

Chicago’s Greenheart Store grew from ecotourism and fair-trade partnerships with the Spanish group. The Greenheart store sells fair-trade goods, for which wholesalers monitor work conditions and give producers technical assistance.

Its representatives will tell more about the organization and its history at Monday’s meeting of the East Village Association. The presentation starts at 7 p.m. in the Happy Village tavern, 1959 N. Wolcott.

Greenheart relocated this summer to the former Porte Rouge space from a smaller storefront at 746 N. LaSalle, now the group’s travel agency.

At last month’s Renegade Craft Fair, the shop sold houseplants grown at the Pacific Garden Mission. Earlier in September, the store hosted a wine tasting and beading demonstration with South African visitors.