#2 Local Food Systems

Inheriting the Grid #2

By Daniel Tucker — Our scale determines our goals. At the recent international meeting of the Peoples Global Action (PGA) alternative globalization network in Haridwar (India), there was an explicit call for pga-affiliated groups to literally map themselves on the globe. Articulating the scale of its own organization and the various relationships to local contexts across the globe, the […]

Martha Boyd

By AREA — You have an extensive background in urban agriculture spend a great deal of time and energy going around town introducing communities to growing. Additionally, it seems your practice has led you to do extensive networking with a really wide range of groups/projects that touch on urban eco-logical work in one way or another. Can you […]

Ken Dunn of the Resource Center

By Sarah Lewison — What do you see as the future for food production in Chicago? We’ll have all of the vacant acreage in Chicago under production and the city will be able substantially to produce its own food. That’s probably ten years down the road, but the Mayor is in agreement with the principle of producing food or […]

Daniel Block

By AREA — Daniel Block’s recent study is entitled Where are the Tomatoes? Supermarket Access and LINK Card utilization in the Chicago Area. The geographic study explores the distribution of food markets throughout the city in relation to the population density and number of Illinois link card users and link accepting stores. The study creates useful distinctions between […]

Introducing: Chitown Chefs

By AREA — About two and a half years ago, Cooperative Image Group (Co-op Image) was working out of their first art center, a two car garage sized space in Humboldt Park, across the alley from Carmen Arroyo’s (El Coqui) garden and around the corner from Campbell Gardens. The space would oftentimes fill up with more than 20 […]

Humboldt Park Food Not Bombs

By AREA — As a new local chapter of the international Food Not Bombs movement trying to take form in Chicago’s Humboldt Park area, can you say anything about the specific motivations of this FNB Chapter in relationship to the local area? What is the impetus for starting up a FNB in this specific location? What challenges have […]

Nance Klehm

By AREA — Nance Klehm is a grower, forager and artist with experience making cheese, brews, miso and other ferments. Her ‘neighborhood orchard‘ involves neighbors growing on various urban sites (“vacant” lots, back yards, transportation corridors…) and bartering between one another for services and food. She actively collects food waste and community composting. On occasion she barters produce […]

God’s Gang

By Micah Maidenberg — Food is at the center of God’s Gang. A South Side group with a holistic perspective on community transformation founded in 1980, God’s Gang is a volunteer-run organization that tutors neighborhood kids, curates exhibitions on Black history and teaches about agriculture and food through farming, animal husbandry and urban gardening. God’s Gang’s flexible organizational structure […]

Growing Home

By Cassie Fennell — At the height of the summer, foodies jam Chicago farmers’ markets in pursuit of fresh fruit and heirloom vegetables. For nine years, the Chicago non-profit Growing Home has worked to transform perceptions that these markets are solely the hunting grounds of the well-heeled, by providing employment opportunities for homeless and low-income Chicagoans. Recruits of this […]

The Institute for Community Resource Development

By Micah Maidenberg — The Institute for Community Resource Development and its head Ladonna Redmond are making practical maneuvers to secure food resources on the West Side of Chicago. An Austin-based organization, ICRD is currently placing the final edits on a business plan for a community-owned grocery store that seeks to make sustainable food something it rarely is: affordable. […]

Gene Wise

By Micah Maidenberg — Genewise members are food activists at the genetic level. The group was formed in 2001 in response to a big meeting of biotechnology firms in Chicago and since then has been using direct action and public education campaigns to raise awareness about the genetic engineering of food. “Everyone eats, from CEOs to the homeless. No […]

Looking For Greens

By Nancy Thomas — One day I decided I wanted to eat something healthy and I thought greens would be perfect because they were healthy for cleaning negative particles out of my body. So I started on a horrible journey from one store to the next, about eight stores to be exact. I went from California and Jackson past […]

3 Kinds of Produce

By Heather Sewell — In the form of a subscription vegetable business called Produce, I spent this past summer farming across the sprawl of western Chicago land on three distinct sites.   Traversing 50 miles behind the wheel of my farming sedan, watching the landscape change, and my agricultural responses shift gears.   Pests, water, access and soil – all of […]

Growing Power

By Cassie Fennell — Growing Power’s “deliberately comprehensive” approach to urban agriculture embeds sustainable farming practices within first-rate training programs, and a national, family farmed food distribution network. Renowned in Milwaukee for its farming initiatives and a training facility nested within an urban farm that houses ducks, fish and many a happy worm, this national non-profit began to tackle […]

Boleria Hernandez

By Nance Klehm — NanceWhat I’ve noticed in your shoe store here is that you have, you cook here, I mean right behind you have tons of spices. You have onions, limes, chilies, salt and everything. Can you tell me a little about why you like to cook and what you cook here?, , Juan Well I cook first […]

Nueva Vida ABC

By Nance Klehm — Interview with Carina at ‘ABC NUEVA VIDA’ on 25th and Albany in La Villita. I had just picked up a tamale from the tam-alero and decided to meander a bit to take in the mild winter weather. When crossing Albany Street, I came across a sandwich board that read: “un galon de leche de soya […]

Driving Around With Ken Dunn

By Sarah Lewison — I jumped into the Resource Center’s 10-wheeler as it rounded a corner in Hyde Park, with Program Director Ken Dunn at the helm en-route to his first load of some-thing. I’m riding along to get a sense of what keeps the program going day to day. While the Resource Center isn’t the only recycling operation […]

Neoliberal Appetites

By Brian Holmes — I’d like to begin this text with a little anecdote. Recently, I spent some time in New York City. Having lived outside the US for some fifteen years now, one of the things you wonder about when you come back—one of the little anxieties—is “what exactly am I gonna eat?” The food system in Europe […]

Introducing: Dill Pickle Food Co-Op

By Alisa Baum — When you talk to Dill Pickle Food Co-op (dpfc) instigator Kathleen Duffy, it’s easy to see how her dreams of a neighborhood source for organic food turned into the little idea that could. With one email asking a few friends what they thought about starting a food co-op, Kathleen publicly asked the question that many […]

Respect Is Due

By AREA Staff — RESPECT IS DUE – Youth Take a Stand against Street Harassment The Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT) has been working since 2003 to raise awareness about street harassment. The YWAT is a youth-led, adult-supported social change project that empowers young women under 21 years old to take action on issues that affect their […]

Introducing: Seed Archive

By Salvation Jane — The Seed Archive: A public archive of healthy seeds collected from many places and people The seed archive is housed in Chicago. The seed archive is particularly interested in seed that is food or medicinal, habitat building, shade creating and soil building. The archive only accepts, stores and loans viable, well-identified seeds. Seeds are alive. […]

Coercive Consumption

By Claire Pentecost — In October 2005, the Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC)* published a study mapping the distribution of major player supermarkets in Chicago, against the racial and economic patterns of the city neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, the neighborhoods with a majority of black and poor residents had few if any major player grocery stores. On the other hand, […]

Urban Foraging

By Salvation Jane — Early- to mid-spring is a time of intense stimulation. The earth is wet and muddy and seeds and animals are emerging. Our bodies need to let our internal rivers move too. A lot of the naturalized plants (aka weeds) in this city are really good for our digestive organs. Here’s a simple recipe to get […]

Public Memories of Haymarket in Chicago

By Nicolas Lampert — The Haymarket riot in Chicago emerged out of the struggle for the eight-hour workday. On May 1, 1886 a May Day celebration drew over 80,000 protestors in a peaceful demonstration up Michigan Avenue where it was becoming evident that factories would have to honor the workers’ demands. Days later, on May third, violence erupted when […]

What About the Farmers?

By AREA — We realize that by focusing on activities in the Chicago area, we are excluding a great many seriously important players in the regional food system. There are many sources for finding out about local farmers, including the many projects of local agriculture advocates Sustain, such as http://www.familyfarmed.org. We have decided to compile a list of […]

The Conquest of Thalia

By AREA Staff — “Built as a hall for meetings and for musical and theatrical productions, this building was named for Thalia, the Greek muse of comedy and pastoral poetry. Typical of such halls, this design incorporated retail and residential facilities, which helped to support the theater financially. Unique among buildings of this type is its interior theater, which […]

Downtown Decentered

By Faith Agostinone Wilson — The images and visuals used within this curriculum unit focus on Waukegan, Illinois, a city of 88,000 people located on the shores of Lake Michigan, 40 miles north of Chicago. However, it is hoped that area educators, activists, and artists will collaborate on similar visual sociologies within their own neighborhoods and communities in the Chicago […]

The Chicago Street Art Archive: Vanish Portfolio

By Jamie Kalven — The Plan for Transformation–Chicago’s demolition of its high-rise public housing–has erased the writing on the walls.  The high-rises were texts.   Unless recently painted over by the housing authority, every available surface–hallways, stairwells, elevators–was animated by graffiti.   It was a mixed bag, including boy-girl stuff (some sentimental, some carnal), gang tagging, religious affirmations and […]

Introducing: Material Exchange

By Material Exchange — Greetings from Material Exchange, a recent addition to Chicago’s healthy crop of art collectives. We think a good way to introduce ourselves to you is to describe our current project in the hopes that it will outline our practice obliquely but satisfactorily, and that we may find possible participants. We are a project-based group and […]

Heat 05

By Nicole Garneau — HEAT 05 Project Log I have lived in Rogers Park for over 10 years. I was attracted to Pratt Beach as a site for artmaking for a number of reasons. First, it is a beautiful place that is within walking distance of my house. Second, beaches are places where city residents can cool off during […]

Community Land Trust

By Martha Boyd — On December 1, 2005 Mayor Daley announced that the City would be initiating a “Community Land Trust” (CLT) initiative to secure affordable housing for Chicago residents. Below are notes and questions relating to this news as well as the official press release announcing the Land Trust. 1. A succinct summary and questions I had written […]