WBEZ | Chicago Botanic Garden http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-botanic-garden Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 One CEO's garden ethic http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/one-ceos-garden-ethic-106522 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/reneerk/3979280475/lightbox/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/reflection%20by%20renee%20rendler-kaplan.jpg" style="height: 479px; width: 610px;" title="A pond in the Chicago Botanic Garden. (Renee Rendler-Kaplan via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Yoga pants really have nothing to do with environmental ethics. But to hear Lululemon, Apple or any number of companies appropriate terms like &ldquo;ecosystem,&rdquo; you might start to think all CEOs are green thumbs.</p><p>Most are not, but <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/info/senior_staff/siskel.php" target="_blank">Sophia Siskel</a>, CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, thinks more should be.</p><p>&ldquo;Gardening has the power to heal the world&rsquo;s economic and environmental problems,&rdquo; she said Friday at Northwestern University, well aware of how that admittedly tall order might be received.</p><p>&ldquo;Someone could say that&rsquo;s flowery, flighty or naïve,&rdquo; said Siskel, who got her master of business administration degree from Northwestern, but &ldquo;we have to stop being embarrassed about the things we&rsquo;re passionate about when they don&rsquo;t have hardcore quantitative metrics.&rdquo;</p><p>Not that protecting the environment comes at the expense of business, boasting more than 1 million visitors per year, the Chicago Botanic Garden saw its highest-ever attendance in 2012 &mdash;&nbsp;a record it had set in each of the three years prior.</p><p>Several years ago the garden made a commitment to beauty as its own end, focusing on six basic tenets Siskel learned as a gardener: patience, beauty, science, learning from each other, learning form hard work, and faith.</p><p>Those personal values can inform business decisions. &ldquo;Impatience is not an asset in building a strong business or an enduring economy,&rdquo; Siskel said. &ldquo;Impatience breeds waste.&rdquo;</p><p>Refocusing on their inherent interest in natural beauty also led to a renewal of the garden&rsquo;s scientific mission. They developed a plan with NASA to train up to 60 Chicago-area teachers to use NASA&rsquo;s global earth observation data in a climate change curriculum for 4<sup>th</sup>-12<sup>th</sup> graders.</p><p>The writer Michael Pollan offered up a similar &ldquo;garden ethic&rdquo; in his book <em><a href="http://michaelpollan.com/books/second-nature/">Second Nature</a></em>. He bought a farm and attempted to let it grow free, with disastrous results. But waging an all-out war on the natural world also ended in failure. Pollan arrived at a garden ethic to reconcile his respect for the integrity of nature with his needs as a member of contemporary society.</p><p>Siskel&rsquo;s garden ethic shares that environmentalist sentiment, but applies it more specifically to professional and personal relationships. She pointed to the proliferation of urban gardening and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042" target="_blank">green jobs programs for hard-to-employ individuals</a>&nbsp;as evidence of the value of lessons learned through gardening.</p><p>&ldquo;Economic calculations often ignore nature. The result can be the destruction of the very ecosystems on which our economy is based,&quot; she said. &quot;Somehow by the time we get to be grown-ups, we forget that the future of life on earth depends on the ability of plants to sustain us.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://www.twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 06 Apr 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/one-ceos-garden-ethic-106522 Weekend Passport March 23rd http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-03-23/weekend-passport-march-23rd-97573 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-March/2012-03-23/2431304.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week, our global citizen Nari Safavi is here to help us plan your international weekend. Nari is the co-founder of Pasfarda Arts and Cultural Exchange.</p><p>First up, <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Chicago Botanic Garden</a> in Glencoe, IL brings us <em>Resilience: Lessons from Japan. </em>The event explores the resilience the Japanese people showed amidst the natural disasters and nuclear turmoil in the Japan's recent history. Event-goers will learn about the emotion behind Japanese solidarity through different cult<img alt="" src="file:///C:/Users/kmidden/Desktop/resize__575__575__5__perf_images__full_1312388708eighth-blackbird_1.jpg">ural and art forms. The event will feature several speakers and there will be demonstration on Japanese flower arranging as well as <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-23/najga_meeting.jpg" style="width: 202px; height: 140px; float: left;" title=""></a>a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The event takes place from 4:00-5:30pm.</p><p>Next, the Chicago-based chamber music ensemble Eighth Blackbird will be performing music by Swedish composer Fabian Svensson. The collaboraive show, <em>The Music of Less, </em>takes place at the <a href="http://www.mcachicago.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Museum of Contemporary Art</a> this Saturday, March 24, at 7:30pm. The cost is $22 for members, $28 for nonmembers, and $10 for students.</p><p>And, University of Chicago’s 47<sup>th</sup> annual European Folk Festival is a three-day event at the school's <a href="http://ihouse.uchicago.edu/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">International House</a>. From 9:00-5:00 on Saturday<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-23/115203-004-57C48726.jpg" style="width: 201px; height: 115px; float: right;" title=""> and Sunday, attend workshops to learn how to play the saxophone and bagpipes or dance in the traditional Bulgarian, Macedonian and Polish styles. The workshop teachers take the floor from 8:00-midnight for a performance. The biggest attraction at the festival happens Saturday night, when participants can put their newfound traditional dancing skills to the test with experts from the workshop. The European Folk Festival is free during the day. Night performances run $10 for students, $20 for adults.</p><p>Finally, prepare for Easter in a new culture. The <a href="http://www.ukrainiannationalmuseum.org//eng/index.html" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Ukrainian National Museum</a> is hosting a <em>pysanka </em>workshop this Saturday. Pysanka is the traditional Ukrainian <img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-23/AP02050103544.jpg" style="width: 119px; height: 174px; float: left;" title="">art form of egg painting. At the workshop, participants will learn the difference in meaning between color schemes and symbols as well as the emotional significance in Ukrainian society. Teacher and accomplished psyanka expert Vera Samycia will teach students about how the meaning of these symbols and color schemes vary from region to region in Ukraine. Call ahead to reserve your spot at the workshop. The class is $35 and lasts from 10:00-2:00 at the Ukrainian National Museum.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 23 Mar 2012 17:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-03-23/weekend-passport-march-23rd-97573