Summer plans for rbn


1 Sunday 12-2 by the river

2 Friend and community in need, 2 flat for sale, potential displacement of another longtime neighbor


1 This weekend, Sunday 12-2 we’ll meet at Berteau, as usual, on the east side of the riverbank. If you don’t see us, just walk the path and you’ll find us. We’ll be weeding, planting, watering, and probably some other fun stuff too that we didn’t figure out quite yet. There’s usually quite a few kids and families and more are welcome. The kids have great fun. (so do the rest of us) So this is a beautiful lovely invitation.

Bring a friend and spend time in nature. You can swing by and say hello, join in a little or just watch, we are gentle folk and welcoming. You don’t need to be strong or know what to do. Just come say hello and opt in to meeting some nice people who love nature and care about environmental and social justice and enjoy learning and stewarding this very high quality and rare garden of fantastic Chicago Native flowers.

2 Friend and community in need, 2 flat for sale, potential displacement of another longtime neighbor

There’s a particular situation right now in the neighborhood where a building is for sale that’s likely to cause yet more loss of rental housing, losing a longtime dear friend and riverbank neighbor. If you might be able to help and would like to learn more, please email back. There already is enough resources available for half the cost. Email for more details. Thank you.

Being a helpful neighbor during street sweeping times

dear neighbors, Hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather!

sorry to share this but… here’s the street sweeping schedule for our neighborhood… Those of you who have garages, if you could park in them at these times, if possible, it would help. I remember when I was caretaking for my mom or when my daughter was little, moving the car was a real source of stress and often there were no spots within many blocks the night before. Thanks all for doing what you can to think of each others needs, we have many elderly or disabled neighbors who need our help with this.

But the biggest thanks goes to those who get by without cars. Thank you for walking, biking, taking the train or bus, thank you for choosing to sacrafice what you did, and of course benefit from the financial boost of letting go of car insurange, gas, payments. Thank you for taking care of your health by walking and biking. Thank you for making our streets safer for kids who walk to school and for all of us to walk or bike or even drive. Thank you for caring to save the planet. May we all drive less or not at all every chance we get. I’m guilty as the rest of you, but I aim to do better. but meanwhile.. I made us a google calendar to avoid street sweeping ticket. It has alarms to help us move our cars ahead of time. your welcome! -j

May 3/4  July 30/July 3 August 28/29 October 25/26

Here’s the link that was shared in Alder Martin’s newsletter

The full newsletter is here (lots of local news there)

and you can sign up to get it here:

Spring Equinox Gathering and news

Dear Riverbank Neighbors,

Sunday, March 19, we invite you to celebrate the Spring Equinox with a noon-2:00 stewardship get together. and then 4:30-sunset campfire gathering. details below…

For the workday: We will do some prep for the prescribed burn. Recently our leaders renewed their certifications and we hosted a training for the Prescription Burn Support crew. All are welcome to help us prep the site. Families are welcome. Kids can help rake and other tasks with their parents.

There is a chance that we will manage a very small prescribed burn of the west facing slope at Berteau and some other areas during tomorrow’s work day. If so, the area we might burn Sunday is a small part of the total burn area and will be of very short duration burns taking advantage of the western winds.  and if we do a small burn, it will be small and short and we can have an observation station that’s well back for parents with children who would like to observe.

Later, from 4:30 until sundown, we will gather to celebrate with a fire, food, friendship, song, recitations…and historically this was the time when neighbors shared news of new neighbors, children off to college, passings, new babies, new jobs, need for housing, or other news. This is how we got to know new neighbors or how new neighbors were welcomed. This is part of how our community cared for one another. We hope you will come. It’s not the warmest day, but it’s a celebration of the end of winter and we’ve been putting out all the energy we can to keep the Riverbank Neighbors going through the hard times of the pandemic and other difficulties. We hope you will join us. We have common foes, and we have a common allie, the earth. Let us join together as best we can, though not perfect. We are neighbors, after all… if anyone would like to rsvp and let us know if they might be available to help set up or bring the hot chocolate or reusable cups or food to share, please let us know. Thanks.

Leeks are sprouting on the riverbank. A beautiful bird was spotted at Waters Gardens, this bird with the sweetest spirit and the name which is funny and awkward for humans, is called the woodcock, those of us who often visit natural areas have many personal stories to share of this bird. Check out this beautiful videos. and please, support the people of Riverbank Neighbors and the longtime protectors and stewardship community of Waters Garden who maintain the habitat for this wonderful Illinois bird!

The Riverbank Neighbor stewards

Invitation to Sauganash

Dear community,

Riverbank Neighbors, Waters Ecology, and the North Branch Restoration Project,  would like to invite you to:

a winter restoration workday at Sauganash Prairie Grove  (the traditional site for Waters School Mighty Acorns)

Sunday, March 5, 2023, 10-1:00 for community volunteers including families of Waters Students who missed out on the Waters Ecology program with Mr. Leki this past fall.

With good luck we will have beautiful wintery weather. Afterwards, we’ll share some food around a campfire. All are welcomed to participate, and to learn from and with the longtime experienced and skilled restoration stewards supervising the event. Children need to be accompanied by their responsible adults. 

This nature stewardship opportunity is co-led by Pete Leki and Larry Hodak and co-hosted by other leaders from Riverbank Neighbors and the North Branch Restoration Project.

Please let us know if you can join us by filling out this form for the Sauganash/LaBagh Woods Volunteer Workday. Please ignore the other date listed and the part about certifications, which doesn’t apply.

Your RSVP will help us plan and make the most out of our workday. Regrets are not necessary. Feel free to pass along this email along to others who might be interested in joining. 

Generations of Waters ecology students and families have participated in the stewardship of the rare and precious ecosystem of Sauganash and LaBagh with the Waters Garden and Riverbank Neighbor community and co-leaders. Expertise and skills exist in our community. Many children have been raised by parents who make stewardship of the native ecosystem part of their family and community culture. It’s a joy. We invite you to join us. Gratitude to all who’ve kept their determination to protect these special havens for rare Illinois native flowers and birds, who’ve protected the land and the stewards of the land. We hope to see you at this special stewardship event. Spring is around the corner!

some photos to share..

Join us for a celebration of community stewards this Saturday!

Celebrating Community Stewards
Join Riverbank Neighbors and the 47th Ward Green Council in celebrating and thanking the stewards of the natural land in our area, who have created rich, beautiful, and healthy ecosystems, and the communities that tend and formed around these gardens. There will be films, and photos, children’s performances, songs, and coffee, heartfelt testimonials, and invitations to join the organizations working to protect our planet and all living creatures.

Invitation to Rsvp for Saturday

We hope Riverbank Neighbors, past and present will join us Saturday morning.
rsvp here.

remember when we gathered rain and filtered and bottled it for celebrations?
remember when we put our worries and hurts in a little boat and let it float away down the river?

do you remember when we burned the prairie to make way for spring?
or we redirected the toxic spray trucks
or loved the sky?

people gather to the ancient trees
people gather to the river
people find friendship in the work
not donations, but actual toil on the land with their children
people form community

healing.  vision. perspective.  hope.
gather if you can. Saturday at the library. open space for community.
piano. song.  old and new friends.
people of the land.

Many of you know that, in recent years, many organizations have started adopting the Land Acknowledgement.
Riverbank Neighbors and other stewardship groups have done this.
Join us to speak the Land Acknowledgement and invite all to integrate it into their lives,
join us to witness the pledge to care for (steward) the planet for our children.

Join us to recognize many individuals who have given of themselves, 
working to rebuild soils, nurture native seeds, and steward the land and community.

We hope you can join us.
rsvp here.
thank you.

Mild Winter Stewardship day Tomorrow!

Hello Mid winter friends,
Looks like “mild” weather Sunday, and a perfect time to cut brush that is encroaching on our plant communities. We will be at Berteau Street, with a fire going to burn the twigs, and roast hot dogs and those sweet white things, in case you have little ones in tow. Also a chance to chat and check in on each other.
Below is the latest version of the “pre-invite” for the event we hope to hold on the 28th. Let us know if you can come on Sunday.

Hope you are well and keeping warm, that your spirits are up and your soul is whole..
I am writing you with a “pre-invitation” and asking you to pencil in the date: Saturday, January 28, 10:00 – 1:00.
On this date Riverbank Neighbors , Waterscology, and the 47th Ward Green Council plan on  hosting a symposium? celebration? (we’ve not yet exactly decided what to call it) at Sulzer Regional Library. The theme will be “Looking back, Looking Forwards” at 30 years of Community and Natural Area Restoration. We will be honoring key people and organizations who have made  powerful and  beautiful restored places possible with their energy, knowledge and creativity., including you. Your contributions have been immense and little recognized.  
We would love for you to attend this gathering, and publicly accept our heartfelt thanks and appreciation. 
There will be a gallery of photos, news articles, flyers, and memorabilia. Videos will be playing. There will be songs and a performance of the Legend of Snake and Turtle by our young children. 
The formal program will be from 11:00 until noon. During the other times people will visit the galleries and displays, visit with each other, and enjoy coffee and tea. If you can visit at anytime from 10-1:00, we will take a few minutes to introduce you and honor you. 
Please let us know if you can make it. We’ll be sending out evites, soon.
Pete  (for the Planning Committee)

Voices from the River

1 Words from the Riverbank
2 End of Year Contribution to RBN?
3 Reminder about  January 28, 2023 Restoration Gathering

Dear River Neighbors,
During a recent Riverbank work day, we asked people to write down a few words about their experience. Here are some of those thoughts.
The bank offered a COVID respite. Now it renews my spirit. A piece of wild off Western Ave.
Ken C
The riverbank helped nourish us when we retreated into our COVID cocoon.
Dave W
The playful ducks provide entertainment for the little explorers.
Brad A
Pulling nightshade, the soil seemed ready to give it up.
P. B
The aster blooms mixed with seeds and milkweed pods bursting bring beauty and joy. I love the wildness of this place.
Megan H
It feels like many things I care about have burned up. I hope everything beautiful rises from the ashes.
It felt nice to return some of the care needed to maintain paths that have been peaceful to walk with my kids.
The riverbank often gets described as not feeling like the city. I think it feels like what the city could feel like if it was built around the health of people and nature instead of cars and business.
Riverbank is a good place for our children. They play together, enjoy the weather, learn about plants and insects, and observe the adult activities. This is a great natural place where we all share and  learn together.
Riverbank es el perfecto lugar para nuestros ninos. Ellos pueden jugar juntos, disfruten del invierno, aprendiendo sobre plantas e insectos, observando a los adultos trabajan. Este es una hermosa area natural en donde todos compartimos y aprendemos juntos.
Ana L

If you are able, please consider making a contribution to Riverbank Neighbors work,
by writing a tax deductible check to :

Friends of the Chicago River / Riverbank Neighbors
411 S. Wells St. #800
Chicago, IL 60607
Attn: Amy Comstock

January 28, 2023, Save the Date
Please remember to mark the date : 
Saturday, January 28, 
10:00 -1:00 
at Sulzer Library 
for our symposium & celebration. We want to uplift the 30 years of organizing and restoration by Riverbank Neighbors and Waters Ecology. We also want to honor and recognize others who have restored other parcels of land, to create a haven for birds and insects and animals, including humans. The idea of connecting isolated fragmented restorations may be the main theme of this gathering. If you are interested in helping to plan this event please drop us a note.
RBN Stewards

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts, Sun and Fire

22 brave souls warmed themselves around our rolling fire pit as the Sun dipped below the horizon.  Rank rank after rank of Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes called out greetings. The actual Solstice is this Wednesday, but it was amazing to see the sun set at 4:15, and to experience the drop in temperature as the Sun disappeared..  We shared hot beverages, honey cakes and smoked salmon, and we shared songs, marking the days with mandolin and drum. We shared our news, and hopes for the future. We made new friends and refreshed older friendships.

Winter Solstice ~ Light a Fire of Hope

Winter Solstice ~  
Bring a Friends, Light a Fire of Hope

Riverbank Neighbors will celebrate the Winter Solstice next
Sunday, December 18, 2022, from 4:00 until 6:00
at Berteau and the River
We will gather together to share food and drinks, songs and stories, news and poetry
as the sun sets on the shortest day, and longest night, of the year.
We will have a fire burning to acknowledge the Sol, the Sun,
and its life-giving energy, and to take heart that from that day forward the days will lengthen,
finally delivering us into Spring at the Vernal Equinox on March 20, 2023.
Please bring Friends and Food and Drink to share.
Let us know if you can come early or stay late to help with set up and clean up.

If you are able, please consider making a contribution to Riverbank Neighbors work,
by writing a tax deductible check to :

Friends of the Chicago River / Riverbank Neighbors
411 S. Wells St. #800
Chicago, IL 60607
Attn: Amy Comstock

Neighborhood Natural Areas Symposium and Celebration
Save the date
On Saturday, January 28, 10:00 – 1:00
Riverbank Neighbors and Waters Ecology
will host a symposium and celebration to recognize and honor the transformation of land in our neighborhood from barren wastelands to rich diverse and beautifully restored ecosystems. We will also be honoring others hard at work to connect our neighborhoods and natural sanctuaries to give us hope, and to create life-saving habitats for animals, insects, birds and… people. It is also a call for us to step up our work for a planet that is livable, and beautiful for our children; for our government, and schools, and churches, mosques, synagogues, and businesses to step up our work, to drop into a higher and more serious gear in addressing climate change, environmental  and social justice, NOW, where we live. 
We will display 30 years of photos, video, artifacts, news clippings and music and theater, all home grown, that document this amazing work.  Please mark your calendar and spread the word.

Burn Workshop in February
Also, in mid February we will be presenting a Burn Workshop for neighbors and friends to gain knowledge and understanding about prescribed burns of natural areas, and to gain beginning qualification to assist. Stay tuned for time and date.

Riverbank Neighbors Stewards

Great Work!

Hello Dear Riverbank Friends,
We did it! A high powered crew of 16 spread the small mountain of smoking wood chips Sunday, laying a lovely soft layer of new chips over the paths from (south of) Berteau all the way north of Hutchinson.  We had a cheerful fire going all the time, weeded and seeded, talked to folks and ended with pizza, pumpkin pie, and …. cole slaw. Delicious. 

Who Ate that Log??
A couple weeks ago, old friend Jeff S, the well known birder, emailed me a photo of a big willow branch that came down, blocking the lower path by Cullom.  I went over with the chainsaw and took it apart. I ended up with two bigger logs, too big for me to lift. So I nestled them next to the split rail fence. At the next workday, I asked David and Stenn to haul them up to use as path borders on the upper path. They hauled the first and said they didn’t see another. I figured someone else had taken it for some reason. We walked down, and I spotted it. It had been dragged some 20 yards towards the river, and rested there. It was all chewed up like a pretzel, big chunks chewed out of it. The beaver had apparently hauled it away for some construction purpose, or to ease a toothache. Willow’s genus name is Salix, and its cambium is rich in salicylic acid, the working ingredient of aspirin. The funny thing is that it looked as though the log didn’t fit under the lower rail of the split rail fence, so the beaver cut the fence! Such industriousness. We left it there for her.

Take a Break and Donate!
We have been working every week for the past few months and we are in good shape for the Winter. I suggest we take a break until the Winter Solstice, when we meet at Berteau with fires to celebrate the “beginning of the end” of Winter, with food, beverage, songs,  orations, and donations to support our work!
We have been fueled by pizza for the past few months. You can pitch in, in cash, at the event, or send a tax deductible donation to Friends of the Chicago River / Riverbank Neighbors.

5th Wave Collective: Leonarda Remix
This from Rebecca:

I’m writing to invite you (I discussed it with Pete, but all are welcome!) to an upcoming concert that I’m part of. I am a member of an ensemble called 5th Wave Collective, who performs music by women and gender-nonconforming people from throughout history. On Saturday, November 19, at Heaven Gallery, we will share our latest program, titled Leonarda Remix. We’ll be presenting brand new arrangements of Isabella Leonarda’s Twelve Sonatas (composed in 1683), arranged by one of our members. The piece was originally written for violin, cello, and harpsichord; our new arrangements will be for many different instruments, and one arrangement will be chosen by the audience! I think it’s going to be a really fun show. 

More information is in the newsletter below, and at this link:
RSVP is encouraged
$10 suggested donations at the door will benefit both 5th Wave and our host, Heaven Gallery. 
We would love to see you there! 
Take care and thanks for considering,
Rebecca McDaniel

Prescribed Burn Training : If you’ve never been involved, check it out. It is an amazing learning experience, and a spiritual journey, helping to sustain the native plant community. This will happen early in 2023.

Riverbank Stewards

Reminder: Chips the Paths tomorrow!

Dear Neighborhood Friends,
Just a reminder that we have a mountain of wood chips to move tomorrow. Bundle up, gloves and shovel, any food or music surprises. We start at 9:00, and just see hoe things go. At mid-day we can order some pizzas and put together a table with food and drinks. We will do what we can.
Anyone that can come a few minutes early to help bring wheel barrows and tools…..
See you in the morning,

Chip the Paths!

Dear River Friends,
We scored a big pile of woodchips through the help of our friends at NeighborSpace, and Juvi, our tree trimming friend.  
This is our chance to get the paths newly covered with fresh chips, to make traverse better and safer all through the winter. We will be working this Sunday, November 13, 2022, starting at Berteau and the River. Bring wheel barrows, gloves, shovels and rakes. (We will supply all these things as well).
At mid-day we will share food, and then get back to it. Arrive when you can, and stay as long as you like. It is a good family activity. Join us in the joyous opportunity to work, laugh, meet, talk, eat, and deepen our friendships.
Riverbank Neighbor Stewards

Blustery Day Beckons Us to the River

Hold on to your hat!. The winds are a-blowin’ in a most blustery fall way. See Robert Frost’s poem at the bottom.
We will meet tomorrow, at the river. We don’t exactly what to do. We are waiting for a delivery of wood chips to refresh the paths before winter. When they come we will need ALL HANDS ON WHEELBARROWS. 
Tomorrow we can decide what to do. Trail maintenance, sowing se3eds, repairing fencing. 
Join us at 10, at Berteau and the river,
Happy Birthday to Jules, long time river steward,
and my pa, Janusz, born on Nov. 5, 1918, long time ago. 
Hope to see you all tomorrow, 


(and the Riverbank Stewards)

Riverbank Stewardship and Storytelling

Dear Riverbank Neighbors,
Please join us tomorrow,
October 30, 2022 10:00 until Noon
(note later start time)
We will be trimming trees and shooting the breeze. Below are the links to 2 stories of the season written by Pete Leki as an alternative to the gory Halloween fare offered up by commercial culture. We will share food after the workday and share stories as well. We hope to see you there. 
Riverbank Neighbor Stewards

Story links:
Spirit Story

How are you doing?
Art work by Salim Burris

Usual Sunday Morning invitation and…

This Sunday, Oct 9th from 9-11 AM, riverbank invitation to rejoice in the beauty of this heaven-on-earth nature that we steward. Join us.

We meet at Berteau at 9 and then progress along the riverbank north. Seed gathering, trimming weeds, fence fixing, and more. This is a lovely opportunity to spend some time learning how to take care of our ancient ecosystem. This is as close to learning to be an elf as it gets.


please consider listening this podcast. (below) It’s fantastically important. and interesting.

(play episode: Justice for all on spotify or whereever you listen…)
Please write us back and let us know what you think.

Did you read this? Did you listen?

What do you think?

We want to know.

thank you.

Sunday together

Dear Riverbank Neighbors, 

We will gather tomorrow from 9:00 until 11:00 or so to pull weeds, gather seeds, prune, repair retaining walls and continue the FQA for the riverbank. It is exciting work at the time of the Autumnal Equinox. We will gather afterwards to share food and stories and songs and enjoy the cool weather and the hint of cooler weather to come. 

Waters School garden received an award from the Chicago Excellence in Gardening Contest, and one of the gifts was a Witch Hazel shrub from Possibility Place. We will be planting it in our shady areas along with Great St. Johnswort, Showy Goldenrod and Whorled Milkweed.

Hasta manana,


Mr. Leki’s new podcast

Please give a listen to my new podcast show

Sometimes we have to change the schedule due to rain or heatwave or other unforeseen event. Check the website calendar for updates, rain dates, or any scheduling changes on the day of the event.  We usually meet at Berteau unless indicated otherwise, on the east side of the Chicago River.    

Front page news and Invitation to Sunday, Sept 18 events

Dear Neighbors. This Sunday, we’ll gather at the riverbank for the usual work, gathering seeds, weeding to protect the rare precious native plants, maintaining the path, but also we will be biking to volunteer as part of a fantastic local event, The Sustainability Market. (see below for more details)

We also wanted to make sure that everyone saw the cover of the Chicago Tribune. Click to read a few quotes in case you can’t get past the paywall, or to link to the Trib article.

about the Sustainability Fair:

I met the founder of this event, Sherry Skalko, through work with the Green Council. She explained to me that the actual amount of material recycled was actually only her secondary goal in this project. She explained, if I remember correctly.., that the primary goal was for people to spend enough time learning about how to recycle that they become more motivated to create less waste, and for the waste that is created to be more recyclable and recycled. That sounds really good to me.

It looks like they could use some more volunteers, so please consider this as a possible fun thing to do with friends on Sunday. We’ll be volunteering to support the North Center Sustainability Market before and after our riverbank workday, as part of our commitment to be role models for our children. Sherry asked people to use the signup genius form if they can, because it’s helpful, but she also said to not let it be a barrier, that volunteers are welcome and the form is optional. Still, it only took me a minute of patience to sign up and I’m glad I did. It can feel hopeless to try to solve the problems of the world, but many of us in Riverbank Neighbors, years ago, took a personal pledge to be part of the solution to the problems the world faces in the climate emergency and other ways humanity struggles for safe, clean water, air, soil, and safety. So, one day at a time, we seek to do our best. If this sounds good to you, perhaps you’d like to join us Sunday.


9-11 Riverbank at Berteau (east side)

before and after: volunteering at the Sustainability Fair (details below)

The Sustainability Market

  • Sunday, September 18, 2022
  • 9:00 AM 1:00 PM
  • Northcenter Town Square 4100 North Damen Avenue

please try to bike or walk to these events, if possible, for the earth’s sake.

no judgement on people who can’t because their car is broken, their bike is broken, their foot hurts, or other reasons. we won’t judge. we drive sometimes too, though we put some effort into planning not to. Advocating for safer street infrastructure that protects people walking and biking from cars is an essential element to that. Thanks to our Alderman for his leadership on this issue.

September riverbank neighbors newsa longtime friend moving away and Sunday morning gathering and stewardship

Riverbank Newsletter Saturday, Sept 3, 2022

Today many Riverbank Neighbors are at Waters Garden, working together to maintain the garden there.  Please visit to learn about the changes there. Over a thousand people have signed the petition to bring back Pete as steward of the garden and to finish negotiations for his job status. All the money was raised for ecology, but it’s been reallocated to other things. Last week, Pete and another Waters alumni and parent, testified to the CPS board asking for their advocacy saving Waters Ecology Program, which is a national model for excellence in environmental education.  Waters has been visited by educators from around the country and the world. 
Here’s the link to view their testimony: A 55 page page packet of supporting documents was submitted along with this testimony. Pete Leki speaks to the CPS Board of Education (2min) then Meg Ford (2 min)
All are invited to advocate to offer their support in whatever way they can. Now is the time to protect environmental leaders and stewards of the land who some with to diminish or ban. Many are afraid of losing their jobs or retaliation against their children, but please find a way.

Today, we are sharing that our longtime community member and friend, Ann Breen-Greco, will soon be moving away.  Ann has been a core member of Riverbank Neighbors and has spent her life being a role model as an activist for justice, peace, women’s rights, and so many good causes. She showed the way, she is a mother and grandmother and true friend to many. I am personally deeply grateful for Ann, as a community leader, a mentor, and as a friend.  I look forward to her future visits and thank her for being so strong, intelligent, visionary, and wise.  We will miss you Ann. You are loved. Please keep in touch and visit us. 

Ann asked us to share that she is holding an estate sale this morning, Saturday, 9/3/22 from 9AM to 3pm at her home, 4123 N. Maplewood (1/2 block south of Berteau near the river)

Tomorrow, Sunday, Sept 4, 2022 There’s a Riverbank morning 9-11. We’ll host a flower walk and start our plant inventory for the project described below.  After, we’ll share lunch.

Wednesday, Riverbank Neighbors will have “Seeds and Weeds” from 5:30 to 7:15. which is a different kind of riverbank event, shorter, on weekdays. 

msg from Pete below:(written for Waters community, but sharing with RBN)

Hello Dear Friends, Twenty+ people showed up at the garden on Wednesday night to work, play and enjoy food and music. We repaired a broken bench, pulled wheelbarrows of bindweed,  pruned the Ninebark (native shrub), raked the grass around the fire circle, removed the grape netting and harvested the last of the grapes in Journeys and Refuge Garden, and more. We made a small fire and cooked quesadillas, and Jeff, a school dad, serenaded us on guitar, while bats swooped overhead. All school families, friends and neighbors are welcomed. Tomorrow, Saturday September 3, from 9:00 until noon, we will meet again at the garden to do more garden tasks, including the beginning of our Floristic Quality Assessment! This scientific tool will allow us to qualitatively and quantitatively score our native plant community restoration. We will end up with an index number so that we can compare our garden with other restoration sites, and with itself, over time. Tomorrow we will begin identifying every native plant in the garden, creating a list, looking up the plant’s scientific name and Coefficient of Conservatism (C number). This number ranges from 0 -10, 0 being plants that, tho native, are weedy and aggressive, to 10, plants that will not tolerate disturbance of their very particular habitat and community. The list is then analyzed mathematically to come up with a score. We know, from decades of study and work, that our garden is fabulously rich, ecologically speaking. Beginning with our ancient oaks, whose roots have held on to the mycorrhizal fungal associations necessary for a healthy native plant community, to the effects of 25 years of prescribed burns, our garden hosts at least 120 native species. It is an ecological, historical, educational, cultural and community treasure, nurtured by generations of school families and friends.  So, join us and learn and enjoy these wonderful waning days of summer. And for those of you who can’t get enough, we will be working on the Riverbank on Sunday, 9-11:00.
Mr. Leki
Sometimes we have to change the schedule due to rain or heatwave or other unforeseen event. Check the website calendar for updates, rain dates, or any scheduling changes on the day of the event.  We usually meet at Berteau unless indicated otherwise, on the east side of the Chicago River.  

more news

Dear River Bank Friends,
The days have been mild. The rain, tho not enough, has been gentle.
We still have lots to do, pruning and weeding, and fixing trails and walls.
Please join us tomorrow for stewardship, 9-11:00. (Saturday Aug 27th)
Look for us between Berteau and Hutchinson.
Afterwards we can share some lunch if you are able.
Hope to see you,

We shall meet you at the river

Aug 13, 2022

Dear Riverbank Neighbors,
Join us tomorrow morning for a stewardship workday: weeding, pruning and repairing. We can do a wildflower walk to test our flower ID skills, and Pete can bring you up-to-date on the Waters School Crisis. Please visit and sign  the petition and leave a comment. We are hoping to reach 1,000 signatures by Tuesday’s LSC meeting.
Meet at the River and Berteau Ave. 9:00 – 11:00
Many thanks, 

August River Sunday mornings

Aug 6, 2022

Dear Riverbank Neighbors and new community members,

If you haven’t heard what’s happened to Pete Leki, stewardship and protection of Waters Garden, or the entire ecology program, then please read here.

If you appreciate what Pete brings to the community,
if you love the riverbank,
love Waters Garden,
appreciate the ecology program K-8 at Waters for decades, bringing generations of Waters students to the Riverbank,
the forest, the lake, and the garden,
if you appreciate the Environmental Justice activism we do,
please lend a hand and send him a message of support that can be posted publicly, as well as signing the petition on the website.  (we’re not asking donations right now)

Please check here to get updates, read other peoples letters of support, and read the other newspaper articles and newsletters by Pete.

back to Riverbank Neighbors…

We’ve scheduled three scheduled upcoming August Riverbank mornings.

9-11AM Sunday August 7th, 14th, and 21st.

Sometimes we have to change the schedule due to rain or heatwave or other unforeseen event. Check the website calendar for updates, rain dates, or any scheduling changes on the day of the event.  We usually meet at Berteau unless indicated otherwise, on the east side of the Chicago River.  

Hope to see you at the river tomorrow, Sunday at 9.

True need for solidarity

Dear community, This is a true call for support, for solidarity with Riverbank Neighbors and Waters Garden, because the ability of the community to protect Waters Garden from destruction, the ability for Pete Leki to continue to take the next generation of students to the lake, the forest, the river, the garden, and to learn to be intelligent and strong forces for a healthy future for themselves on this planet, all of this work is under true threat, true peril.

Chicago Public Schools have destroyed parts of the garden time and again. The community has had to rise up over and over, to protect the garden, stealing our family and work time.

The Waters Ecology and Riverbank Neighbors community are intertwined and have shared common communities, common organizers, shared shovels and work ethics. We both are advocates for justice, environmental and social justice. We are activists, advocating for clean water (the river/lake), clean air (solidarity/hunger strike with General Iron protestors), clean land (in so many ways), and for protection and support for those of us in need, disempowered by the forces that be.

There isn’t time to fully explain the present peril. Envision the best of the riverbank and waters community and then envision our last steward gone, replaced by a low-paid part time contractor employed and controlled by CPS. If you want to take action, here are some ideas:

  1. Pete Leki invites you to the garden this morning 10-12. Please email him if you can come early or on time and help set up.
  2. Write a letter of support. Or at least, quickly email that you are looking for ways to come together.
  3. Make a note to read the news coming your way from Pete in coming days.

It’s exhausting to fight these battles. But, if we shy away, what is good will be left unprotected. I ask Riverbank Neighbors far and wide, and long out of touch, please write to Pete. Let him know you are there. This isn’t just about him and what he does, it’s about what he enables the community to do at the Riverbank and in the places where he is one of the last stewards standing.

~from other stewards of the Riverbank

Election advocacy

Dear Neighbors, I’m putting Election day on our google calendar.

I’m inviting you all to do the same. Actually, as some of you know, we’ve got quite a few people in the neighborhood who’ve spent most of their lives volunteering for campaigns, so they would advise us to reflect on our commitment to having a good result in the next election .. how much does it matter? Would you like to join a group that is working together to make a difference? There are many good organizations to join, working for causes you believe in, of course.

People who work on campaigns and advocacy spend time in weeks and months before elections, making phone calls, going door to door, and working on elections. Maybe some of you would like to share your experiences. I’d like to find a way to share your stories. Please let me know. Jules

Event-Summer Solstice Beach bike ride June 21 Tues 6pm or meet us at Montrose Beach at 7pm

Dear neighbors, for 20+ years, the Riverbank Neighbors community has celebrated the Summer Solstice. It’s an event to celebrate the work, the beauty of nature, to share news of births and passings, and to welcome new community members. This year, we’re going to the beach and you’re invited.

If you would like to bike with us, please gather at Berteau at 6pm. There’s a group of us who do this often, even on hot days. It takes about 25 minutes at a gentle pace. We’ll follow the most calm bike route possible, kids on sidewalks with adult guides if the group is small. If the group is large and we have enough experienced bike leaders, it will be similar to a kidical mass ride. We ask all riders to only be positive and kind and wave or ring bells and say “thank you” to cars who kindly (or impatiently) wait for the bikes to pass. We will be biking all the way to the lake and back (with ~ 60-90 min of beach time in between) We’ll probably have kids with us, but please only bring kids with who have biked that distance before and bring plenty of water, extra to use to cool off. We have several 8 and 10 years olds who do it often, but it’s a hot day. We biked it yesterday with kids, not problem, so just bring water, and bring bike lights or reflective vests for the ride home.

Those who don’t want to bike are invited to join us at the beach at 7.. maybe by the bus or carpool. We’ll mark our spot on the beach with the big kite-like pinwheel that we often have had up at events in the past, so you can find us, unless the wind is too strong, in which case, we’ll stick near one of the lifeguard stations to the south side of Montrose Beach.

Suggested items to pack: beach blanket or towel, sunglasses for wind, drinks and/or nut-free food (there’s also “The Dock” restaurant at the beach or hot dog stands, of course), kites, toys for kids to build sand castles. ** bike lights and/or reflective items. If you don’t have them, it’s a good day to visit a local bike store.

Check back here for updates. Hope to see you there.