Happy Equinox, everyone..

For newcomers, the riverbank neighbor project, ecosystem, and community are often underestimated. This isn’t beginner stuff. We need to dive into this deep study to learn and practice stewardship of our local ecosystem. When Riverbank Neighbors started, there were not native gardens in the parks and parkways as there have started to be now. We have been doing this for over 20 years. Our gardening days include: Seed gathering, watering, planting, fence fixing, sign making, and yes, being support crew for our annual prescribed fires… Many regional experts visit our gardens and offer their support and advice, which we appreciate and rely upon. We are teaching, mentoring, and still learning too. We do our best to put special effort into learning and relearning how to be allies to our neighbors in environmental justice. We invite you to join us.

We may also be also experts at appreciating the beauty of nature and community. It’s a joy. It’s not always easy. There have been bumps in the road. Sometimes gardens we plant are ruined by thoughtless behavior. Sometimes community ties become strained. We made it through the pandemic, not without loss. But healing is always possible. Gardens can be watered and new seedlings will grow with new hope. We are grateful to all for their longtime efforts. Many many have contributed to this project. We remember you Jerry, Kevin, Julia, Bill, Michael, Laurene, Lisa W, and so so many more.. and we know this is not our land. We have passed a resolution called the Land Acknowledgement. Perhaps you haven’t read it or heard of Land Acknowledgements yet. If not, please search it up on our website or elsewhere. Its a beautiful step and an incomplete one.

We hope to see you at the riverbank. If you see anyone tending the riverbank, please say hello and thank them. They are your neighbors. One of the saddest thing is when people walk by without a hello or with disdain. It happens. I’ve had people ask me to take their trash instead of saying hello. I asked why. Because they thought I was “a worker.” huh. yes, I am a worker. We are all workers. and neighbors. Say hello. And we, once again, thank you for all the wonderful things you do to care for your families, this community, the greater family of humankind, and our whole living earth.

Happy Equinox everyone…


(one of the rbn stewards and co-leaders for 20+ yrs)

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox (by Pete Leki)

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox
The Autumnal Equinox is coming. Around the 23rd of September. The exact moment doesn’t much matter to me. The amazing thing is that it is a world-recognized, unifying moment for every culture back through very ancient times. Something shifting, moving from one moment to the next. What does it matter to us? What will we notice? How will we be affected? It matters because, in a world ridden with religious, political, class, and racial divisions, the Equinox (and the Solstices) are moments of shared awe and recognition that we share One world, One reality, and that it is beautiful. When we started restoration of the riverbank and Waters school grounds, we sought events that we could be part of to bring our community together. The celestial Solstice and Equinox were laden with ancient ritual, with scientific revelation, with Universal appeal. So join us to celebrate this worldwide event. The official date and time aren’t that important. But the Equinox reminds people all around the world that a shift is beginning. What will you notice?? On September 23, the length of the day and the night will equalize. 12 hours dark, 12 hours light. Worldwide. On that day, the Sun will rise due east and set due west. This means, amongst other things, that there will be some awesome and unusual spectacles on Chicago’s east-west grid streets. The Sun will pour into the streets, painting them with color and blinding drivers. Another thing is that this day, this moment, marks the time of maximum reduction of the rate of daylight shortening. This has been going on since the Summer Solstice. Slowly, slowly at first, the days began to shorten after June 20, accelerating to maximum at the Autumn Equinox. (Did you notice? It’s 7:30 and dark?) After this day, from our perspective, the shortening of the days will slow down until the Winter Solstice. We will also witness this if we take note of the azimuth of the noontime Sun. The Sun dips, lower and lower onto the southern horizon until, at Winter Solstice, it stops, and reverses, heralding Spring. What a thing! Going on everyday, all around us and around the world. Celebrate! Light a fire. Sing a song. Share food. Tell a tale. This is one way to connect with the whole world, back through ancient times, and with the celestial. – Pete

Riverbank Neighbor news 8/12/23

  1. Sunday, 8/13/23 noon-2 is a our weekly scheduled riverbank workday. Many neighborhood families and friends young and old join weekly to spend time with our precious beautiful gardens of Riverbank Neighbors. Meet on the east side of the river at Berteau.
  2. Eco-fest is next weekend, Saturday, August 19th. We are looking for a group of Riverbank Neighbors or others who also care about the planet who would volunteer for the event. If you will, please email stewards@riverbankneighbors.org or sign up here for the big recycling effort that’s part of ecofest. Thank you. If you care about the planet, this is a way to help that really enables local groups to do something big.
  3. Waters Garden invitations: Wed 5-sunset, Saturday 10-12, music on the last Sat. of each month.
  4. Upcoming Green Council events: 2023 Calendar -Chicago’s Green Council of the 47th Ward
  5. Sharing a great resource: ChicagoEnvironmentalists.org

Riverbank Neighbors news 7/29/23

  1. Sunday, 7/30/23 noon-2 is a our weekly scheduled riverbank workday. Many neighborhood families and friends young and old join weekly to spend time with our precious beautiful gardens of Riverbank Neighbors. Meet on the east side of the river at Berteau.
  2. Waters Garden invitations: Wed 5-sunset, Saturday 10-12, music on the last Sat. of each month.
  3. Upcoming Green Council events: 2023 Calendar -Chicago’s Green Council of the 47th Ward
  4. Sharing a great resource: ChicagoEnvironmentalists.org

A Joyful Day in Nature with Community… Sunday July 23, 2023

  1. Today noon-2 is a riverbank workday. Many neighborhood families and friends young and old join weekly to spend time with our precious beautiful gardens of Riverbank Neighbors. Meet on the east side of the river at Berteau.
  2. Family bike ride this morning, many neighborhood families gather at Waters.. read more here..
  3. Waters Garden invitations: Wed 5-sunset, Saturday 10-12, music on the last Sat. of each month.
  4. Upcoming Green Council events: 2023 Calendar -Chicago’s Green Council of the 47th Ward
  5. Sharing a great resource: ChicagoEnvironmentalists.org

July 16 Riverbank News

Throughout the summer, our Riverbank Neighbor Stewardship Days are Sundays 12-2.

Today, July 16th, the air pollution is quite bad. Some of our community and organizers are quite

affected by it. But we’ll be at the riverbank at noon for a flower walk, light weeding, gathering seeds.

Thanks to all.

reminder that you can make donations to our fiscal agent, following the directions on our website.

We use the donations to pay for hoses, tools, fence material, and sometimes pizza to feed our volunteer community work crew (children included!)

be well, everyone.


a message from Jules:

This fall, The Green Council of the 47th Ward will be hosting an event that’s about talking to your children about the Climate Emergency.

I want to invite you to write back to this email now, or in the future, to share some of your feelings about it. At a recent Green Council meeting, three people had tears in their eyes about thinking about climate change and the effect on their children and the world. I know many of you feel the same. As a community, we have attended climate change marches, promoted local sustainable community lifestyle, yet many act as if climate change isn’t real. Please write to us about your feelings, let us know if you want it kept private or shared with the community anonymously only. Thank you.

The organizers of Riverbank Neighbors and the Green Council have passed the Climate Emergency Resolution, which is on our website.

Many years ago, we took a pledge to be part of the solution to the problems of Climate Change.

We’ve done alot. Lets do more and find ways to help show our children that we do care and prioritize their future, with joy, with community.


Green Council Announcements

check here for updates

  • 7/18 – Sierra Club’s Transportation Group is having a hybrid meeting. It will be at their office at 70 E Lake St, Chicago, IL 60601 from 6-7:30. It will also be via Zoom RSVP
  • 7/22 – How to Compost in Chicago – 10AM-12PM at Sulzer Library, 4555 N Lincoln. Come learn about the importance of composting in achieving waste reduction goals, hear about policies and programs the city is considering, and learn about ways to compost in your backyard or with private services. More details to come.    
  • 7/29 – Ravenswood Neighbors Garden Crawl. More details to come. 


  • 8/19 – 47th Ward Eco-Fest, 10AM-2PM at Welles Park. More details to come. 


  • How to Talk to Your Children About Change -details tba

Special Sunday event and other news

1- Please forward this to your neighbors! When people do this, new neighbors come to our workdays telling us that’s how they learned of our community events. Join our newsletter email list here so you stay connected. Our list has hundreds of people.

2-Sunday, June 25th, -Riverbank Neighbors hosts our weekly event, with a twist: – Lincoln Square Kidical Mass at Waters Elementary, 4540 N Campbell |  Facebook event  Start at Waters, visit Montrose Metra Garden, land at Riverbank Neighbors by Berteau and shoot some hoops, explore the river path, adjourn to the patio at Burning Bush Brewery for root beer, beer, and pizza! – so Riverbank Neighbors will join the ride, host a tour of the riverbank, and join in the fun! a different stewardship day for welcoming new families to the riverbank and enjoying the beauty of nature and bikes!

3- Join the 47th and 49th Ward Green Councils for a Townhall Event
with Alder Hadden, Chair of Chicago City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection and Energy. 
Tues, June 27th More details and RSVP

4- A special opportunity to support a neighbor doing fantastic work in nature building skills and leadership with youth.- Andrea Knepper of Chicago Adventure Therapy

5- More Green Council upcoming Events are here on our calendar. Including Eco-Fest!

6- Please support Riverbank Neighbors-

  • Share our news with your neighbors. mention it. forward it. invite them on a walk by the river…
  • Thank the people who are tending the river. They are your neighbors.
  • Please send a quick reply of support if thats how you feel. Yesterday a man walking the riverpath doubled back to do so. That news was shared with others. That was lovely. It happens often, but really the silence from some people is difficult. It’s the city, we know, but mostly we know our neighbors here and saying hello is how a community starts.
  • Donate through our website and our fiscal agent/partner org Friends of the Chicago River. Join them and thank them for their work too.

Fathers Day in community

Dear neighbors, we wish you all a Good Father’s Day.

Whether you are one or you had one or if you didn’t…

and since gender is a construct, lets thank everyone who cares for, protects, and nurtures.

It’s not only children who benefit from the support/nurturing of Fathers/Parents.

So, today, we share our hope that you all are cared for, are encouraged,

that you all have people close to you whose love for you goes deep and is patient,

and that healing and joy comes to you today.

Our gratitude to all of you who give your heart to fatherhood and parenthood,

especially for those of you struggling. Lets take a moment to reach out to thank each other,

to show our gratitude, and to consider those around us who we could show up for.

Our gratitude to you. We hope you have a peaceful and joyful day.

and.. today we’ll be along the river path, seed gathering, gooseberry picking (and eating!)

red currants too!.. and some work, of course. Kids play while neighbors chat and welcome newcomers. 12-2 somewhere between Berteau and Pensacola.. and sometimes we share food.. perhaps make pizza.. or falafel share a watermelon.. or .. today we may ride bikes to the lake later in the afternoon and jump in!

Happy Solstice! Happy Fathers Day! if you are free, we hope you might take a stroll by the riverbank and say hello!

image of green leaves and small violet flowers with yellow center, an illinois native: blue-eyed grass

photo by Jeremy Atherton. Blue-eyed grass, a precious illinois native species.

this is what was there before the asphalt came to Chicago.

this is what we do.

hope to see you at the riverbank!

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: https://www.5thwavecollective.com/event-details/leonarda-remix
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 WaterEcology.org 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) https://youtu.be/Iw0kI_YxOuA?t=9349
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.