WBEZ | landscaping http://www.wbez.org/tags/landscaping Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago landscapers turn to ancient Amazonian fertilizer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/chicago-landscapers-turn-ancient-amazonian-fertilizer-107645 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34610267@N05/9017188412/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bernie-jacobs610px.jpg" title="Landscape architect Bernie Jacobs at Cityfront Plaza on North St. Clair Street, the first project in which his firm Jacobs/Ryan employed biochar. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></a></div><p>The honey locust trees that span North St. Clair Street next to downtown&rsquo;s NBC tower may owe some of their girth to a 2,000-year-old agricultural practice from the Amazon.</p><p>In 2011 landscape architect Bernie Jacobs of <a href="http://www.jacobsryan.com" target="_blank">Jacobs/Ryan Associates</a>, the site&rsquo;s designers, had recently learned about biochar &mdash; a rich, charcoal-black fertilizer made by pyrolysis, or burning without oxygen. Deep in the heart of a burning brush pile, for example, extreme heat separates organic matter into liquids, gas and a solid called biochar. Because there is no oxygen, however, the process creates no carbon dioxide. Instead, <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/chroniclegarden/article/Biochar-aids-soil-fertility-keeps-carbon-in-earth-3637826.php" target="_blank">biochar traps carbon</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;It seemed like a beautifully ecological and non-chemical fertilizer,&rdquo; Jacobs said. He had seen <a href="http://www.agmrc.org/renewable_energy/biofuelsbiorefining_general/biochar-a-multitude-of-benefits" target="_blank">evidence</a> that biochar improved agricultural productivity, but nothing for landscaping. &ldquo;We took a leap of faith.&rdquo;</p><p>In the first year the honey locusts grew 24 inches, or about twice what Jacobs expected. Two years later, &ldquo;They have continued to grow like frickin&rsquo; weeds,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Urban soils often lack carbon and struggle to sustain the diverse microbial communities that are essential to plant growth. Essentially charcoal, biochar is loaded with carbon and fosters microorganisms so well that it has been called <a href="http://www.soilbiochar.com/" target="_blank">a coral reef for soil</a>.</p><p>Jacobs is quick to note that every site is different, and that his project isn&rsquo;t a scientific study. But the cost difference is negligible, he said, and &ldquo;something is making those trees grow better.&rdquo; He now uses biochar in most of his downtown landscaping projects, as well as in his own garden.</p><p>The potent fertilizer works best as an additive. Jacobs&rsquo; project on St. Clair used a soil mix that contains about 5 percent biochar.</p><p>He gets it from West Loop&#39;s Lake Street Supply. Mark Moxley, managing partner at Lake Street Supply, gets the biochar from a farmer downstate, who he said has a trailer-sized pyrolizer. Moxley said he&rsquo;d like to get his own 5,000 square foot pyrolizer. The heat from such a device, which is essentially a large oven, could heat Lake Street Supply during the winter.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/biochar610px.jpg" title="Mark Moxley sifts through biochar at Lake Street Supply. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>Lake Street Supply has no problem selling out of biochar, Moxley said, for which they break even by charging about $2 per pound. Biochar can be made from any organic matter &mdash; brush, corn, wood chips, wood pellets &mdash; but, Moxley said, &ldquo;It needs to be done in a thoughtful way.&rdquo; Using wood pellets could be risky, he said, if the lumber is treated with toxic chemicals. The kind of charcoal used for grilling is generally produced at lower temperatures, which leads to impurities.</p><p>Biochar&#39;s potential for carbon storage has some touting it as a tool in the fight against climate change. Stover, or leftover plant waste like corn husks and stalks, decomposes after about five years in soil, but carbon could remain sequestered much longer in the form of biochar. Recent research in the journal <em>Science</em>, however, <a href="http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/04/soil-carbon-science" target="_blank">found rain dissolves much more of that trapped carbon than previously thought</a>, perhaps scaling back its environmental benefits.</p><p>For Moxley and Jacobs, who both use the carbon-rich soil in their backyard gardens, biochar&rsquo;s positive effect on plant health is reason enough to use the stuff.</p><p>Bartlett Tree Experts are in the midst of <a href="http://www.bartlett.com/tree-expert-news-details.cfm?id=72" target="_blank">a multi-year study comparing the effects of biochar on urban trees</a> in Chicago.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 15:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/chicago-landscapers-turn-ancient-amazonian-fertilizer-107645 Botanic Garden gets over-watered by storms and is saved by plants, Army http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/botanic-garden-gets-over-watered-storms-and-saved-plants-army-106850 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/botanic-garden-before.jpg" title="The Chicago Botanic Garden's North Lake in September 2012. Scroll down to see the same shore during last week's flood. (Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden/Bob Kirschner)" /></p><p>Chicago&#39;s &quot;garden on the water&quot; got over-watered last week.</p><p>With more than six miles of shoreline, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers an idyllic green scenery along a waterfront. But when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/rain-causes-flooding-delays-and-massive-pothole-106711">last week&#39;s inundation</a> sent the garden&rsquo;s lake levels soaring by more than five feet, the scene looked more like a swamp. And it was the actions of native plants &ndash; and the U.S. Army &ndash; that saved it.</p><p>The rising water swallowed stone lanterns on the shores of the Japanese Garden. In the past, such flooding would have sucked soil away from the garden&rsquo;s shorelines. Thanks to <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-13/news/ct-tl-glencoe-botanical-garden-20120913-8_1_native-plants-botanic-garden-bob-kirschner">an aggressive perennial plant initiative</a> that has <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/research/shoreline/" target="_blank">tied up lakefront soil with native plant roots</a>, however, many areas of the garden weathered the storm with ease.</p><p>&ldquo;Within a few weeks you won&rsquo;t even know anything ever happened,&rdquo; said Bob Kirschner, director of restoration ecology at the Botanic Garden. Water levels should return to normal by Sunday night, he said, more than 10 days after the lakes began to rise.</p><p>In 2012 the Army Corps of Engineers helped the Garden flatten out its sloping shores, which had been made steeper by years of erosion. Like many landscaped lakefronts and urban waterways, the Garden once had turf grass right down to the water&rsquo;s edge. When turf grass goes underwater for days on end, it dies. Then the waves washing against that edge start to erode the soil. That process feeds upon itself, chipping away at the earth until you are left with vertical banks.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/botanic-garden-flood.jpg" title="The North Pond, as seen at the top of the article, under five feet of water last week. The water has since subsided and the native plants there survived. (Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden/Bob Kirschner)" /></div><p>Over the past 13 years they have planted more than 450,000 native plants representing hundreds of species. Plants like riverbank sedge and blue flag iris were selected for their ability to survive extended flooding. While conventional flood control infrastructure like sheet piling and stone riprap can help forestall erosion, it can also create &ldquo;biological deserts,&rdquo; Kirschner said, by isolating what might otherwise be a thriving ecosystem where land slopes gently into shallow waters.</p><p>&ldquo;Native plants don&rsquo;t change the volume of the water we store here,&rdquo; Kirschner explained, &ldquo;but they change the resiliency of the ecosystem so it can recover.&rdquo;</p><p>Native plants aren&rsquo;t just for botanic gardens and ecologists. The Skokie River frequently spills over into the Garden, but not before running through 20 miles of north suburban development. If small landowners took an ecological approach to their backyard landscaping, they could have a significant impact on the river&rsquo;s flashiness.</p><p>&ldquo;Your friends and neighbors upriver largely control your destiny,&rdquo; Kirschner said, &ldquo;but you&rsquo;re controlling the destinies of people downriver from you.&rdquo;</p><p>Of course native plants have their limits, too. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/climate-change-could-worsen-chicago-floods-106174">Climate change will likely intensify precipitation extremes</a>, leading to more severe floods and droughts. But the Botanic Garden&rsquo;s native plants survived even worse floods in 2008, and didn&rsquo;t need any water during last summer&rsquo;s drought.</p><p><i>Chris Bentley writes about environmental issues. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@Cementley</a>.</i></p></p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 23:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/botanic-garden-gets-over-watered-storms-and-saved-plants-army-106850 Reuniting with nature in the nation's backyards http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/reuniting-nature-nations-backyards-105473 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/6055188964/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/exurban%20sprawl%20by%20Eric%20Allix%20Rogers%20via%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 610px;" title="Exurban sprawl meets cornfield in Woodstock, Ill. Agriculture and suburban development are leading factors in the homogenization of local landscapes. (Eric Allix Rogers via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>In 2011 Doug Tallamy and his wife drove from Pennsylvania to Oregon. Every time they stopped for gas, he would wade into a typical residential neighborhood and snap a few photos of the plant life and landscaping. Mix those photos up, he said, and it&rsquo;s impossible to tell which stop in the 2800-mile trip you&rsquo;re looking at.</p><p>&ldquo;Nobody is using the plants that are important to their biome &mdash; they all are the same from here to California,&rdquo; he said from his home in Pennsylvania, which sits on 10 acres of white pine, milkweed and other native species that the University of Delaware professor coaxed back into a landscape once choked with invasives. In just a few years, he tripled the number of bird species on his land.</p><p>Restoring native plants has a ripple effect, because so many insects are dependent on specific species for food, and 96 percent of birds rear their young on insects. It takes at least 4,800 caterpillars, Tallamy said, to feed one clutch (5-8 babies) of Carolina chickadees. But biodiversity isn&rsquo;t just for the birds.</p><p>&ldquo;Biodiversity losses are a clear sign that our own life-support systems are failing,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Healthy ecosystems provide services like carbon sequestration, flood control and sustenance for the pollinating insects that nourish our agricultural system. And you don&rsquo;t need 10 acres to make a difference.</p><p>There are more than 45 million acres of lawn in the U.S.</p><p>While Tallamy does not want to abandon agriculture or manicured neighborhoods, he points out there is ample space to introduce a bit of wilderness into the nation&rsquo;s backyards.</p><p>Much of that land is in the suburbs, where urban sprawl has made the homogenous lawn a status symbol. But Chicago has plenty of land <a href="http://www.placemakingchicago.com/">to work with</a> &mdash; something to keep in mind as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/green-belt-envisioned-south-side-103970">the city targets thousands of empty lots</a> that could support community gardening and farming operations. <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2011/08/18/native-plant-gardens">One Chicago condo-owner</a> introduced 175 native species of trees, shrubs and grasses to his 6,200 square feet 16 years ago, and has substantially cut back on landscape maintenance in the process.</p><p>In part that&rsquo;s because native plants are evolved to endure their local conditions. Tallamy&rsquo;s research found non-native ornamental species, common in many gardens, support 29 times less biodiversity than their native counterparts.</p><p>Take Illinois&rsquo; state tree, the white oak. Its genus, <em>Quercus</em>, is one the most productive known &mdash; just in the eastern U.S., more than 500 species of caterpillars develop on oaks. Illinois <a href="http://web.extension.illinois.edu/forestry/il_forest_facts.html">ranks 49th</a> among states in the amount of land left in its original vegetation.</p><p>&ldquo;If you have a chickadee that eats caterpillars, but you only have species of caterpillar in your yard, and that species crashes, your chickadees are out of luck,&rdquo; Tallamy said. But if you have 35 species, you have restored some resilience to the system.</p><p>Tallamy&rsquo;s focus on lawns has solicited skepticism from some landscapers. He recalled one nurseryman who left him nonplussed by asking, &ldquo;Are you trying to put us out of business?&rdquo; But with 29 million homes in the U.S., Tallamy said, restoring native species is a business opportunity for any landscaper willing to change his or her inventory. And the cost of not doing so could be even greater.</p><p>&ldquo;If there were dollar figures on the ecosystem services produced by the plants in our landscape,&rdquo; Tallamy said, &ldquo;everybody would be doing it.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/reuniting-nature-nations-backyards-105473 Greencorps graduates cultivate city's green jobs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/greencorps-graduation-gabe-klein.jpg" title="Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein congratulates the 2012 class of Greencorps — a green jobs training program run by the city. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Another 22 Chicagoans graduated Friday from the city&rsquo;s green job training program, Greencorps Chicago, earning qualifications in a slew of industry skills and hopefully a leg-up in a job market that previously deemed them hard-to-employ.</p><p>This was a transition year for the 19-year-old program, as the city&rsquo;s Department of Environment continued its merger with the Department of Transportation. The 2012 program was scaled back from previous years, notably phasing out its direct support for community gardens.</p><p>In addition to their Greencorps diplomas, each graduate collected a binder of certificates earned throughout the course of the program, from hazardous materials training and CPR to brownfield clean-up.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more than just planting trees and shrubs,&rdquo; <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-01-02/news/0401020175_1_employment-counseling-and-training-homeless-shelter-job">Felicia Solebo</a>, a program alumna, told the 2012 class gathered at Garfield Park Conservatory on Friday. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about our community and creating a better quality of life.&rdquo;</p><p>Solebo spent years looking for work after her release from prison in 1993. Greencorps and other job training programs helped her land a job with Christy Webber Landscapes, where she has worked for 13 years.</p><p>Greencorps has graduated 415 Chicagoans since 1994. The work &mdash; planting trees, landscaping and helping manage Chicagoland&rsquo;s natural areas &mdash; pays minimum wage and emphasizes hands-on learning.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/treasa-wilson.jpg" title="Treasa Wilson, a 55-year-old custodian from the city's West Side, was the 2012 class speaker. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>&ldquo;You learn a lot, including about nature itself,&rdquo; said 55-year-old Treasa Wilson, a custodian and 2012 graduate of the program. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t really appreciate nature before.&rdquo;</p><p>Wilson grew up in East Garfield Park and now lives in Austin. Once terrified of worms, Wilson now wants to work in a plant nursery.&nbsp;Her transformation began three years ago, when she started keeping plants to cope with the loss of her grandson, Johnathan. She started caring for them like family members.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to nourish plants,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Just like human beings.&rdquo;</p><p>Greencorps was a more formal introduction to botany and landscaping. Wilson learned to identify plant species in the wild, cut back invasive buckthorn and manage landscapes through controlled burning. She is studying for her GED.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re just trying to make this a better place to live, and make this a cleaner and greener city,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s going to take more than just me and Greencorps.<em>&quot;</em></p></p> Mon, 21 Jan 2013 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042 Rustbelt city wants immigrants, skilled or not http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/3.JPG" style="width: 605px; height: 404px;" title="Deserted houses like this one mar Dayton’s East End. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p style="text-align: left;">Lifelong Dayton resident Monica Schultz, 36, brings me to the East End block where she grew up. “This whole street was full of families,” she says. “Kids were running around playing, all within my age range.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Now no kids are in sight.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz points to a half dozen abandoned houses, including one right next door to her family’s place. She says the city has boarded it up a few times but stray cats keep finding their way in.</p><p style="text-align: left;">“We had a flea infestation problem,” she tells me. “People walking by could see the fleas or feel the fleas or get the fleas. All of the yards in the neighborhood here were becoming infested with fleas.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz says the city can’t keep up with houses like this. “It’s one of many that need to be bulldozed,” she says. “But it’s on a list.”</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-28/great-lakes-workers-faring-better-canadian-side-border-94389">Workers faring better in Canada</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind-93875">Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Dayton’s population has been shrinking since the 1960s. Most of the area’s factory jobs are long gone. To save the city, Schultz has embraced a new idea: Help immigrants and refugees lay roots in Dayton.</p><p>Schultz, who owns a small marketing firm, helped lead community meetings that generated a 72-point plan called “Welcome Dayton.” City commissioners approved the plan this fall. The points range from better immigrant access to social services, to more translations of court materials, to grants for immigrants to open shops in a dilapidated commercial corridor, to a soccer event that supporters envision as a local World Cup tournament.</p><p>Schultz tells me the plan could revive a Dayton entrepreneurial spirit that sparked inventions ranging from the cash register to the airplane. “You would have small businesses,” she says. “You would have coffee shops and you would have bakeries and you would have specialty grocery stores.”</p><p>Dayton is among several rustbelt cities suffering from population loss and brain drain. To create businesses and jobs, some communities are trying to attract immigrants, especially highly educated ones. Dayton stands out for the attention its plan pays to immigrants without wealth or skills.</p><p>The plan even addresses people without permission to be in the country. One provision calls for police officers to quit asking suspects about their immigration status unless the crime was “serious.” Another point could lead to a city identification card that would help residents do everything from open a bank account to buy a cell phone.</p><p>City Manager Tim Riordan, Dayton’s chief executive, says welcoming all types of immigrants will make the area more cosmopolitan. “I think there would be a vibrancy,” he says. “We’d start to have some international investment of companies deciding they ought to locate here.”</p><p>Foreign-born residents so far amount to 3 percent of the city’s 142,000 residents. For a mid-sized U.S. city these days, that’s not many.</p><p>But Dayton’s immigrants and refugees are increasing their numbers and, Riordan says, they’re already making a difference. He points to a neighborhood north of downtown where some Ahiska Turks have settled. “They were refugees in Russia," he says. "Here they’ve bought houses. They’ve fixed them up. And, sometimes when I talk to hardware store owners, people will come in and they’ll buy a window at a time. ‘I’ve got enough money to put in another window.’ It’s slow-but-sure change.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 280px;" title="A Dayton pizza parlor run by Ahiska Turks adds life to a decaying neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p>Not everyone in Dayton is on board with the plan.</p><p>In a corner tavern on the East End, a 62-year-old bartender serves the only customer what she calls his last can of beer for the night. It’s a Friday, just 11 p.m., but she’s closing. “The owner can’t pay me to stay any longer,” she tells me, speaking on condition I don’t name her or the bar.</p><p>The bartender says the tavern could be on its last legs and tells me what happened to three other East End bars where she worked. They all shut down. She says that’s because many of the neighborhood’s Appalachian families, who arrived for manufacturing jobs after World War II, have moved away.</p><p>“NCR closed down, Dayton Tire and Rubber closed down, GM and Delphi and Frigidaire,” she says, pausing only when her customer slams down the beer and bellows something about a “last paycheck.”</p><p>The bartender tells me she doesn’t like how Riordan and other Dayton officials are handling the exodus of families who’ve been paying local taxes for generations. “Why won’t he try to keep those kinds of people here?” she asks. “He wants to welcome the immigrants to come in here. What can&nbsp;they&nbsp;do? Where are they going to get the money to fix up anything? What jobs are they going to get to maintain what they fix up here? There are no jobs here. None.”</p><p>It’s not just locals like the bartender who have doubts about “Welcome Dayton.”</p><p>Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that pushes for strict immigration controls, acknowledges that attracting immigrants would increase the size of Dayton’s economy. “But that’s different than arguing that there’s a benefit,” he says. “Growing an area’s gross domestic product, but not the <em>per capita</em> GDP, doesn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t be very helpful. In fact, there might be problems with that.”</p><p>Camarota says the low-skilled immigrants would put downward pressure on wages for workers on Dayton’s bottom rungs.</p><p>But Italian-born economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, says low-skilled immigrants would bring what Dayton seeks—and more: “One, they will increase the variety of local restaurants, local shops. Second, they will provide a variety of local services, such as household services, care of the children, of the elderly. Third, they will also develop and bring an atmosphere of diversity and higher tolerance.” Peri says these low-skilled contributions would all help Dayton attract immigrants with more resources.</p><p>The willingness of many immigrants to perform manual labor for low pay, Peri adds, could create jobs for longtime residents. He points to landscaping companies: “They will need people who mow the lawn but also they will need accountants, salespersons, a manager and drivers.”</p><p>Dayton’s approach—welcoming immigrants with and without skills—is the “optimal strategy,” Peri says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/4.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 219px;" title="A Dayton church translates sermons to Spanish through headphones. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">Whether a city’s immigrant-integration plan can actually attract many people is another question. About an hour east of Dayton, the city of Columbus launched an immigrant-friendly initiative in 2002 and saw its foreign-born population grow fast. But that city’s economy is much more robust than Dayton’s. It had already been attracting immigrants for years.</p><p>The results of “Welcome Dayton” could depend on how it works for city residents like a 25-year-old mother whom I’ll call Ana López. (She&nbsp;doesn’t have papers to be in the country so I agreed not to use her real name.) López says she came from the Mexican state of Puebla as a teenager at the urging of a friend who had arrived in Dayton earlier.</p><p>López says her first job was in a restaurant with a big buffet. “We didn’t come to take work away from anyone,” she tells me in Spanish. “Rather, there are jobs nobody else wants.”</p><p>Now López and her husband have three kids, all U.S. citizens. The family has managed to buy a house. And it’s found a congregation, College Hill Community Church, that provides simultaneous Spanish interpretation through headphones.</p><p>But Dayton hasn’t always been hospitable. López says police officers caught her brother-in-law driving without a license and turned him over to federal officials, who deported him.</p><p>Looking at the “Welcome Dayton” plan, López says providing the ID cards and removing the police from immigration enforcement could make a difference for families like hers. “These families would tell their friends and relatives to move to Dayton,” she says.</p><p>That’s exactly what city leaders want to hear.</p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0