Listen in to hear distinctive stories about gardens, birds, and medicinal plants as told by three community leaders.
Featured panelists include: Jose Luis Gutierrez, executive director, Casa Michoacán; Eli Suzukovich III, education researcher, American Indian Center; Sherry Williams, president, Bronzeville Historical Society; and moderator Alaka Wali, curator of North American anthropology and Applied Cultural Research Director, Environment, Culture and Conservation (ECCo) at The Field Museum.
The “Chicago Communities Restore Nature” panel is part of CCA’s Heritage Matters series, in which CCA members discuss how various cultural perspectives enrich our understanding of contemporary issues. Cultural organizations, such as those represented by the three panelists and their respective communities, explore new avenues to address an issue like environmental restoration that extends beyond the field of ecology and into the daily life of the community.
In their roles as community connectors, these three organizations—American Indian Center, Bronzeville Historical Society, and Casa Michoacán—demonstrate that community-based heritage organizations are important contributors in addressing environmental concerns. American Indian Center, a social service organization, reconnects with nature by cultivating medicinal and native species gardens in Uptown and other Chicago’s neighborhoods. The Bronzeville Historical Society, an organization dedicated to preserving African-American history, developed a bird oasis in partnership with Pullman Historic Site, where birds find their temporary homes in between the South and the North like many African-Americans during the Great Migration. Casa Michoacán, a Mexican-American cultural center in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, responded to pollution in the neighborhood by building a native garden sanctuary for monarch butterflies, a symbol from the state of Michoacán in Mexico.