River Day-sign up is full but seeking experienced RBN to guide tasks

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 8th is the big city-wide River Day,
organized by Friends of the Chicago River, which was founded in 1979 when the river was desperately more polluted and had almost no fish in it anymore.
‘Friends’ is responsible for organizing Chicagoans to fight for the improvements that have brought our river back to life.

If you aren’t a member yet, If you love the river, then you’ll want to become a member of Friends. They send a great newsletter all about the river that shows how much great work is going on to improve the quality of the river.    Our local group, Riverbank Neighbors has been partnering with and supported by Friends of the Chicago River for decades.

On River Day, we usually have 20-30 new people show up at Berteau around 9am.  We need to show them what work needs to be done.  For this, we need some of our experienced neighbors who already know the work to help lead the event. 
Although Riverbank Neighbors hosts many many workdays throughout the year, River Day is a special day for us because on that day, we often recruit new wonderful members who find us through the Friends of the Chicago River website. We also love being one of many many sites for the big city-wide event!  This year, as in most previous years, our site is full.

If you come to Riverbank Neighbor workdays often and know the tasks fairly well (digging up natives that have spread to the path, weeding, or wood chipping) and if you are willing to show newcomers how to do it, please join us tomorrow (even if you didn’t sign up yet) between 9 and 12 in the morning.  (please reply to this email to let us know you can come. Thank you!)

We’ll be joined for a show of support by our Alder* Matt Martin and State Senator Sara Feigenholtz.

In non-covid years, all participants were invited to gather for one big celebration after the event with music, visiting nature educators, and fun games for kids. next year, we hope to celebrate together again. We hope everyone will get vaccinated to help such celebrations possible.  For now, please bring your masks and respect people’s personal space for covid reasons. Thank you so much, we look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Upcoming dates are on our website at the link here.

April 3rd Riverbank Neighbor newsletter.

Riverbank Neighbors Newsletter Saturday Apr 3rd 2021

1- Riverbank Workday schedule for spring!
2- Gratitude to the Burn Support Crew for another successful year!
3- Task list
4- Waters and Riverbank family looking for apartment

1- Riverbank Workday schedule for spring!
The Riverbank Neighbor calendar of events is on the website and google calendar at this link.
We’ve tentatively scheduled some workdays for spring.
please check the calendar for updates and changes due to weather…

2- Gratitude to the Burn Support Crew for another successful year!
Once again, our community has completed a successful burn of the Riverbank at Berteau and of Waters Garden.
Gratitude to all who gave their time to attend the online burn support crew training and who were part of the team for the actual controlled burn.   A Gallery of photos and link to the recording of the burn crew training are on our website here.  This year, Pete Leki shared the torch with three Riverbank Neighbor women who had the training and experience, Sarah Anderson, Lisa Phillips, and Jules Peterson-Green.  Pete also assisted the Montrose Metra Garden for their first controlled burn. What a difference from decades ago when this was all new!

3- Task list
(from Pete)

Dear Friends, The sap is flowing and we have work to do. I ordered wood chips, but there is no-telling when they will arrive. And we are scheduled to be a host site for Chicago River Day in May, but for now…. There is a lot of work to do: We need to clean up  trash and trim shrubs in the garden that runs along the parking area; we need to repair alot of the little fences  (stick and string) the line our pathways; we need to repair and replenish our signage; we need to repair retaining walls that have shifted; we need to repair and replace some of our steps, we need to add a few new sections of split rail fencing, we need to dig up some prairie plants that have jumped into the path and plant them into the entrance garden at Rockwell and Berteau (Thank you Greg and Allison for creating and taking care of that area).
4- Waters and Riverbank family looking for 2-3 bedroom apt.
  If anyone knows of a 2-3 bedroom apartment coming available soon please email Jeremy and Jan Atherton.
They’ve been involved in Riverbank Neighbors and Waters Garden for a few years. Their child is a Waters student.
Jeremy is a neuroscientist at Northwestern and Jan is a talented artist. They have to move out of their apartment on
Pensacola because it is being converted from a 2 flat to a single family home and they are having difficulty staying in the neighborhood.  Perhaps someone could help prevent gentrification from costing us another community member.

2021 Controlled Burn of the Riverbank Prairie at Berteau

Riverbank Neighbors have been safely conducting prescribed annual burns of the native prairie on the riverbank at Berteau for many years. Below are photos from this year’s burn, conducted on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Thanks to neighbor Melissa Schulze for documenting the event.

Additionally, here is a link to the March 18, 2021 recording of the Controlled Burn Support Crew Training for Riverbank Neighbors and Waters Garden. For those who would like to get more training, look for burn crew certification events in January and February next year. We usually conduct our controlled burns around the same time each year.

Sign up for River Day May 8th

Here’s the link to sign up for May 8, Chicago River Day 2021, which is the one really big river clean up and celebration organized by Friends of the Chicago River.

Riverbank Neighbors hosts many workdays throughout the year, but for this one workday, we often have many newcomers. It’s helpful to have some of our experienced and trusted community members who can help show newcomers how it’s all done.

Masks still required, of course.


Canoecopia: Andrea Knepper presents!

Here’s a great invitation to get ready for spring! It’s also a chance to introduce everyone to a fantastic Riverbank Neighbor, Andrea Knepper, of Chicago Adventure Therapy-

Guiding youth through the urban wilderness. Using a wilderness therapy model in an urban setting, Chicago Adventure Therapy offers therapeutic outdoor programs for under-served and marginalized youth.

Andrea Knepper invites us to join her to her presentation at Canoecopia on March 12 to hear all about her 3 month expedition down the Pacific coast. This is perfect for anyone, especially youth. It’s a great story with exquisite photos such as these, below. $15 for the entire virtual event! Tickets: https://www.rutabaga.com/canoecopia/vccTickets?previewmode=

From Andrea:

Join me at Canoecopia this Friday at 7PM to hear more about my trip. Tickets: https://www.rutabaga.com/canoecopia/vccTickets?previewmode=

Make sure to catch the other two Chicago Adventure Therapy presentations while you’re at it! I’m really proud of the work that CAT youth and young adults have done with these presentations. ” Using a wilderness therapy model in an urban setting, Chicago Adventure Therapy offers therapeutic outdoor programs for under-served and marginalized youth.

March 12 (Friday), 7:00 pm Central Time Andrea Knepper Dre’s West Coast Adventure – Paddling from Canada to Mexico Live

March 13 (Saturday), 4:00 pm Central time CAT youth and young adults All Boats Float: Welcoming People of Color into Paddling (Pre-recorded)

March 14 (Sunday), 3:00 pmVictoria Koch with CAT Young Adult LeadersChicago Youth Led Programming Pre-recorded

Someone died on our stretch of the River this morning.

Written by Andrea of Cullom Ave. December 14, 2020

homeless encampment under the bridge

Someone died on “my” stretch of the River this morning.

I believe it was the guy who had been sleeping in this tent.

This tent was the 2nd to show up under the bridge. It was set up pretty precariously, on an angle on the bank. There was another guy living there longer, in a gray tent set up well, hidden under the bridge. He seemed to have a pretty good system set up. There was one morning his shopping cart up top was full of firewood. The next morning he had a campfire going.

Other mornings I sometimes smelled a fire I couldn’t see. I think those fires were smaller. They smelled like they were built with wood he found, not “proper” firewood.

Yesterday morning, the first morning this orange tent was there, there was a campfire again. For the first time, there were voices coming from that fire. The way there should be around a campfire.

Today, the orange tent was at the water’s edge, on its side like this. I had worried it would slide. I had also worried it would draw attention – it was to the side of the bridge instead of directly under it, and orange. So when I saw the blue lights of cop cars, and then several people walking up from the water, I was sad to see what I knew would be inevitable – cops moving the guys along. They’d become too visible.

I was wrong. A man had died.

The cops didn’t like me talking to the other guy – the guy I think was there for longer and had the systems set up. They definitely wanted me to move along.

Their body language was a little less suspicious when I talked directly to them.

* Did someone go in the water?

* [[ slight nod ]]

* Have they been rescued yet?

* [[ slight shake of the head ]]

* Are they still in the water?

* [[slight shake of the head ]] “He’s deceased.”

I told the other guy I was sorry about his buddy. That I’d seen him in the mornings and I was rooting for him.

The cop clearly wanted me to move on.

I thought about going back with a cup of coffee and a blanket. The other guy was sitting on the ground wearing what looked like a pair of scrubs. Not warm enough for below freezing temperatures – especially if you’re in shock or if you’re damp yourself. I really wanted the cops to have given him a blanket.

I didn’t go back because I figured they would be gone by the time I got there.

Later on my walk I saw a muskrat hanging out on the tree that fell several weeks ago, while a couple seagulls called over head. I was reminded that the world keeps going.

And then I was reminded how easily we say that when we don’t know someone. Even if we’ve seen them every morning. And how impossibly hard it is to say that when it’s someone dear to us instead of a stranger.

And I thought of the nearly 300,000 strangers who have died in this country from COVID. People who are strangers – almost 300,000 deaths that I can feel bad about, and almost immediately wax philosophical about the circle of life or the turning of the seasons.

I expect very few people will show up to mourn the death of the man who died in “my” river this morning.

My point is simply this. There are too many people who have not gotten the deaths they deserved, and whose lives won’t be mourned the way they should. Their deaths aren’t less tragic, their lives not less deserving of mourning, because they’re homeless or because they’re part of a pandemic with numbers too big to get our hearts or our brains around.

A man died on “my” section of the river this morning. May he rest in peace.

Dear neighbors, A caring community responds to suffering.

Andrea wrote this piece, we thank her and are grateful.

Other riverbank neighbors left flowers at the bridge and shared stories of brothers and friends who fell into homelessness. How we tried to help, often for years and decades, painful witness to suffering.

As a community, Riverbank Neighbors have a longtime history of working for social justice and peace as well as environmental issues.

The more that class inequities make some callous, the more we double down and refuse to be separated from the refugees, asylum seekers, homeless, and dis-empowered. They are our brothers, our mothers, our kin, our human family.

Lets lead towards a better world.

You are invited to visit our social justice page, where we have collected information about how to help the plight of the homeless and measures which contribute to prevent homelessness, like the eviction moratorium and mortgage assistance and places to donate.