Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I attended the Green Family Festival that was held at the Irish American Heritage Center on April 17th and 18th, 2010. I was on the advisory board for the festival, which was an Earth Day Celebration for families to share natural, healthy ways to raise children and positively impact their communities and the environment. It was a fun, interactive and educational festival for families with children of all ages. In the picture above, I am with the organizers of the festival: Tim McDonnell, Executive Director of the Irish American Heritage Center, Mary Johnson Gorski of the Irish American Heritage Center and Co-Chair of the festival, and Marybeth Rebedeau of the Green Parents Network and Co-Chair of the festival. I presented a MWRDGC resolution to the organizers in honor of the Green Family Festival. I appreciate and applaud their dedication to organizing the festival and promoting healthy, happy homes.
At the festival we had Chef Carole Nyitray cook up some tasty Asian carp dishes. In the picture above we are tasting the Asian carp tacos. Chef Carole also made Asian carpcakes, and Asian carp chowder.
I moderated the Asian Carp Update Panel at the Festival. Speakers on the panel included Ed Staudacher, Civil Engineer with the MWRDGC, Steve Pescitelli, stream biologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Colonel Vincent J. Quarles, Chicago District Commander for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Mike Weimer, Assistant Regional Director for US Fish and Wildlife, and Todd Main, Senior Policy Advisor for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We discussed the current state of the Asian carp issue here in Illinois.
I also helped organize the Environmentalism and Religion: An Interfaith Discussion Panel which was moderated by Tim McDonnell, Executive Director of the Irish American Heritage Center. Featured on the panel were Jill Zenof, Director of the Gan Project, Father Thomas J Loya, STB, MA pastor of the Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Parish in Homer Glen, IL, Reverend Doctor Velma E. King, and Sheikh Kifah Mustapha an Imam and the Associate Director of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, IL. The panel discussed the role that different religions can play in promoting environmental stewardship.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
On April 9th and 10th, I attended Greening the Community: The 28th Annual Pesticide Forum in Cleveland, Ohio. The Forum was organized by Beyond Pesticides and focused on pesticide-free communities, opportunities for a green economy, organic lawns and community spaces, pesticides and health, Great Lakes and water, and much more. It was a very informative and eye-opening conference.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Samuel S. Epstein, author of Toxic Beauty, writes about the dangers of triclosan a common ingredient in anti-bacterial soap. Read his article here.
Supreme Court again rejects injunction in Asian carp case. Read it here.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Chicago's Green Family Festival April 17 & 18, 2010
Start Earth Day off right - this special, fun, affordable outing will also help you find healthy, natural alternatives that make a world of difference for your children, your family, and Mother Earth.
ASIAN CARP UPDATE PANEL, ONE OF MANY PANEL DISCUSSIONS
Commissioner Frank Avila -Moderator
Edward Staudacher has been a Civil Engineer for fifteen years in both consulting and with the MWRD. Currently, he is responsible for operation of the 76 miles of the Chicago Area Waterways and maintenance of 532 miles of small streams in
Bill Bolen is currently a Senior Advisor with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mr. Bolen joined the EPA in 1987 after working in the private sector for 7 years. In this capacity, he serves as a regional and national advisor and provides expert opinions on a variety of subject matters that EPA is engaged in. Mr. Bolen also provides leadership, advice and consultation on Federal policy and program efforts at all levels of government. He has held a variety of senior management positions within the Agency including Emergency Response Program Manager, Superfund Enforcement Coordinator, and RCRA Corrective Action Program Manager. Currently, he is leading the multi-agency Asian Carp Response Strategy. This $78.5 million dollar effort is intended to prevent the Asian Carp from establishing a self-sustaining population in
Mike Weimer is the Assistant Regional Director (Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Program) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Region, headquartered in
Colonel Vincent J. Quarles- As commander of the Chicago District, Colonel Quarles is responsible for water resources development in the
Monday, March 8, 2010
In response to families seeking healthy, natural ways to raise their children and positively impact their communities and the planet, Green Parents Network announces the Green Family Festival, hosted by Chicago’s Irish American Heritage Center on April 17-18, 2010. We will also have an expert panel discussion about the Asian Carp situation on Saturday April 17th at 2:00 pm, the location is at 4626 North Knox Avenue, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, EPA, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District will also be there.
The Green Family Festival will feature experts, celebrity chefs, demonstrations and exhibitors all focused on the importance of raising children in a balanced, holistic way.
Activities will feature panel presentations, healthy cooking demonstrations and exercise, lectures and children's activities.
Suppliers of wholesome, natural products and services will be on hand for discussion and demonstration. Throughout the weekend, families will be able to exchange information, learn about and enjoy organic, locally grown food, workshops on organic gardening, yoga and dance, fitness and bodywork for all ages.
Attendees can browse and learn more about non-toxic personal care products, cleaning products made without harmful chemicals, building materials made with sustainable, natural products and explore holistic medicine, holistic veterinary pet care, holistic dentistry and more
The day will be filled with entertainment, live music, family activities and food. The Green Family Festival will be open on Saturday, April 17 from 10am to 6pm and Sunday, April 18 from 10am to 5pm.
For additional information, visit the Green Family Festival website at http://www.greenfamilyfestivals.com
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
But with the unofficial start of the boating season just weeks away, operators and owners of the most popular boat tours are bracing for a possibility that once was unthinkable — closure of the Chicago River.
As state and federal officials hunt down the elusive Asian carp, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at the financial and environmental costs of closing navigational locks in Chicago waterways and shutting down the Chicago River to boat traffic as many as four days a week. Working under intense scrutiny from Washington, D.C., and around the Midwest, the Army Corps intends to issue its recommendations this month and hopes to have them in place by April 1.
Some say closing the locks and river is critical to stopping Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and threatening the region's multibillion-dollar commercial and recreational fishing industries. But boat operators warn that even a part-time closure would be "catastrophic" for the iconic tour boats and charter cruises that are a summertime staple in Chicago.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think our company would be so severely threatened by a fish," said Chip Collopy, president of Shoreline Sightseeing tours, a family-run business that has navigated Chicago's rivers since 1939.
Collopy said his company has "a lot to lose." So does Chicago, after spending millions over the last decade to rebuild its riverwalk into a civic landmark.
"We are very concerned that closing the Chicago River to boats might greatly affect tourism and the local businesses that rely on it," said Kate Sansone, a spokeswoman for Mayor Richard . Sansone cautioned against predicting what the Army Corps will recommend.
Chicago's tour boats are caught in a win-at-all-costs battle against the Asian carp, a voracious and prolific invasive species that has destroyed native fish populations and disrupted ecosystems on its 15-year march up the Illinois River. DNA research indicates Asian carp are now poised to enter the Great Lakes, a nightmare scenario for biologists who fear the carp could irreparably harm the largest freshwater group of lakes in the world.
With so much at stake, a growing faction that includes six Great Lakes states and several prominent environmental advocacy groups have asked federal lawmakers and the U.S. Supreme Court to force Illinois to close locks near downtown Chicago and in the Calumet-Sag Channel to try to keep out Asian carp.
Last month, the Army Corps laid out three scenarios where the locks would be closed to boating and barge traffic; the options ranged from closing locks four days a week to less restrictive closures of one or two weeks a month.
Lock closures alone would be a significant blow to Chicago's tour and charter businesses, many of which travel between the lock near Navy Pier to gain access to Lake Michigan. But Army Corps officials are also debating whether to prohibit boating on the Chicago River when the locks are closed, the Army Corps' Major Gen. John Peabody said, giving wildlife biologists the space to go after Asian carp using nets, electrical current or even fish toxins.
"No definitive answer has been made yet, although we're considering these options very seriously," Peabody told a gathering in Chicago recently. "All options remain on the table."
Closing the locks is "going to kill everything in downtown Chicago," said Craig Wenokur, managing director of operations for Wendella boats, which has 140 employees and will begin its 75th year this month.
Wendella operates architectural tours, water taxis and several popular tour rides that take passengers from the Chicago River, through the controlling lock near Navy Pier, and onto Lake Michigan. Wenokur said closing the river and the lock would trigger layoffs at Wendella and at rival companies, reduce services, and likely force some businesses to shut down.
"Closing the lock and river is such a drastic step," said Terry Johnson of Chicago Line Cruises, who raises questions about the validity of the DNA research and the logic behind closing the locks to keep them out.
"This whole thing is based on speculation and politics," Johnson said. "We still haven't found a (Asian carp) within 40 miles of the lake, but we want to shut all this down?"
While the region's shipping and barge industry would surely suffer the biggest economic hit if locks are closed, the impact on tour boats would be a civic blow to the redeveloping riverfront, said Jim Farrell of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
"I don't think the city would have spent all those taxpayer dollars on the riverwalk if they had any indication of the prospect of lock closure," Farrell said.
Each of the dozen or so tour boat and charter cruise companies in Chicago employs a few dozen to several hundred people. Some boats host weddings and special events, and they provide tours that rank among the highlights for visitors to Chicago.
"How do you sell this wonderful city to visitors if you have to shut down the river?" Collopy asked. "You spend your life doing this, taking people on rides around the city, and you wake up one day and it could all be gone. I can't believe it."