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30 Nov 2016

A Letter from Richard Dobbins

A Perspective:

Open Space, Sustainability, and “Influence Upon Inner City Living”

My name is Richard Dobbins, Jr.; I’m president/CEO of “South Side Roots, Inc.” a landscape/horticulture service firm. We are passionate about horticulture and its contribution to “Creating Livable, Lovable Space.” We serve the Chicago urban community and its neighborhoods.

In 1997 I returned to Chicago, my native home, and place of birth. As I began to re-acquaint myself and explore the city, numerous changes caught my attention.

grant_park_chicago_illinois_estados_unidos_2012-10-20_dd_03Lake shore Dr. along the lake front from the loop to 67th Street south impressed me. Though I started to notice the area I knew growing up had been transformed into a more welcoming space. The construction of street median planters and community gardens throughout the city softened the vine of the old concrete jungle

I began to contrast what I was seeing with the memory of Chicago during my younger years. I started to ask questions, seeking clues from those living here during the “Green” transforming period. I listened to their response. Many seem to view this as a reclaiming of the city by and for affluent Whites and Hipsters. Some African Americans felt people of color were being relocated and displaced to outer limits of the city.

This transformation, a commitment to the “THE GREEN MOVEMENT” and efforts to bring Chicago into “GREEN” culture had the appearance of changing neighborhoods, as an intentional, orchestrated gentrification act.

Make no mistake the green evolution in the City of Chicago has had an awesome influence upon where we are today! The positive change has impacted how our city is viewed and possible new attractions to come. Numerous neighborhoods have benefited and Chicago’s global presence elevated.

“Open space and Sustainability concerns and issues are a larger expanse of the “Green Movement.” The new and changing economy before us and its associated economic parameters with “Living Green,” Open Space and Sustainability, must recognize these same variance amongst and within neighborhoods and its diverse citizenry.

Representation of our entire city, their communities, their voice, being heard and listened to, not just in random community meetings but also as active decision making participants who are on responsible boards, committees and organizations moving the movement forward here in Chicago.

Everyone of us must reach across the fence and begin genuinely speaking, sharing, inviting and coming along the side of one another. We must not come with entrenched positions but be open to the wealth of knowledge, experience, and insight amongst our diverse population. So many times smaller voices feel discounted and of little value. We must draw upon the wealth within each of us for an even better City of Chicago. We all must embrace change, between with “the person in the mirror” prepare for the tomorrow today.

18 Nov 2016

“Healthy Schools Campaign Blog” Excerpt

- taken from "Healthy Schools Campaign Blog"

Celebrating Success in Chicago in 2015


Posted: 15 Dec 2015 08:11 AM PST

By Rochelle Davis, HSC President and CEO

It was a busy year in Chicago for Healthy Schools Campaign.

But it was also a challenging year. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is in the middle of budget woes and has experienced significant leadership changes. Despite that, we’ve stayed committed to keeping student health a wellness a priority and making healthy change across Chicago schools. And we saw several important successes in Chicago that continue to make schools better places to learn and work for all students and school staff.

I’m happy to share some of the exciting initiatives we worked on this year:

Taking stock of the district’s wellness policy. Healthy Schools Campaign is pleased to be partnering with the district to co-convene an advisory committee to assess the effectiveness of policy implementation, make recommendations and to share findings with the Chicago Board of Education, schools, community members and other key stakeholders. Read more.

Helping parents improve school food. CPS and Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) have been working together for the past decade to transform the district's school meal program. Parent voices are key to this work. CPS and HSC partnered partnered to improve the feedback mechanism between parents and the school district and create a set of resources to better equip parents and schools to share important feedback about the meal program. We created a Principal Toolkit, a Frequently Asked Questions and a School Food Checklist documents for parents. Read more.

Greening Chicago’s Schoolyards with Space to Grow. Space to Grow, which HSC co-manages with Openlands, transforms Chicago schoolyards into centers for outdoor learning, play and engagement with nature and art. Plus, these schoolyards’ special design allows them to capture large amounts of rainwater, reducing flooding and protecting the environment.This year, we opened two more amazing schoolyards, with even more in the works for next year. Read more.

Equipping teachers, principals and parents with the tools to create health changes. Through our Fit to Learn and Parents United for Healthy Schools programs, we’ve provided training to more than 390 teachers, 45 principals and 350 parents. We continued that in 2015 with our Fit to Learn summer sessions and Parents United Parent Leadership Institute. We honored several of these great leaders at our annual Change for Good luncheon. Read more.

Up next: Watch this blog for good news about national successes we celebrated in 2015!

16 Nov 2016

Holiday Horticulture: The Plant Presence Present

Landscapes and the Holidays!


The holidays are bringing closure to this year and entry to a new one Ah! You may be thinking. ‘What’s your point?’

The point is, we often don’t realize the value of planning a landscape project. It’s important to identify where we can add value to our properties. The return on investment for a landscape project is important as well.

For example, trees and shrubbery, may aid in heating and cooling cost around your property, add privacy and screening as well as security around your property.

“I’ll get it done next year!” Maybe what you’re thinking when it comes to landscape projects.

If this resonates with you or someone you may know, think again! As you consider the New Year, why not look around your home and your outdoor space. Think of the possibilities!

Even take a few photos. Start compiling notes on what you envision. Consider how you may like to use your outdoor space. Are there particular features, colors present you rarely noticed? Walk around the inside looking out; are there windows that form a “picture frame” around some part of your outdoor space? Think what it would be like to add more living space!

Your landscape designer and horticulturist can be very helpful in assisting you with developing the design and landscape that works for you and your property. During this holiday season consider a conversation with us at South Side Roots, Inc., and begin planning your 2017 landscape now!