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03 Oct 2016

Landscaping in Developing Areas

With all this talk about the South Side’s development and growth, there doesn’t seem to be much information on how landscaping plays a huge part in it all. Think about it. Landscaping is a subconscious factor that can influence how well certain areas do. While new businesses can encourage the economic growth of a neighborhood, exceptional landscaping can extend the personality and liveliness of that space. With both factors involved, what you get in the end is the face of a well-developed, up-and-coming neighborhood. We could all use a little color and vibrancy in our lives, and landscaping can provide just that.

Taken from: Can data and dollars solve the South and West sides' retail problem? | Crain's Sept. 14

Standing on the corner of 39th Street and King Drive on the site of the soon-to-open Mariano’s in Bronzeville, Lyneir Richardson stares admiringly—not at the grocer’s shiny new sign, but at the vacant lots across the street.

“Look at those ‘For Sale,’ signs,” he says. “They weren’t there a few months ago. (The Mariano’s store) is a catalytic type of investment. The question is, what other retail should be here that will help continue strengthening the neighborhood?”

He says the adjacent properties, near the former site of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Ida B. Wells Homes, should include a sit-down restaurant, perhaps a UPS store and an urgent-care or day care center, as well as a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.

What Richardson hopes won’t materialize? Dollar stores, beauty supply stores, fast-food joints and check-cashing spots. It’s tricky to prevent those players from overtaking an area, as many are operated by publicly traded corporations that move fast and pay top dollar for space that doesn’t receive much other interest.

But Richardson, CEO of Chicago Trend, or Transforming Retail Economics of Neighborhood Development, says his new for-profit social enterprise company, backed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through the Chicago Community Loan Fund and Chicago Community Trust, has three advantages that will help it build top-tier retail developments in Bronzeville, Chatham, Pullman and other neighborhoods on the South and West sides: data, development contacts and dollars.

To get independent businesses and major chains like Chipotle and Target to move into “transitional” neighborhoods, Richardson says, Trend is using sophisticated analysis and newly collected data about neighborhood buying power. It’s also banking on relationships with retailers he and his co-founder, Robert Weissbourd, have formed over a collective 50 years in the real estate and development worlds, plus $7 million in prestigious MacArthur funding that will be used as an incentive for retailers to move into places they might otherwise overlook.

Trend’s steering committee is stacked with prominent developers such as David Baum and John Bucksbaum.

The idea for Trend germinated five years ago, when Weissbourd, a former Shorebank executive who runs economic consultancy RW Ventures, began talking with MacArthur execs about the thorny issues surrounding creating viable retail in underserved neighborhoods.

“How do we figure out which stores would come anyway—we don’t want to finance a Starbucks in Lincoln Park—and which ones are going to fail—we don’t want to finance a Tiffany in a place that doesn’t make sense,” Weissbourd says.

After four years of work and data collection, Weissbourd and Richardson have the results of an 8,500-person survey about where Chicagoans shop and where they’re likely to move. The survey, conducted by economic policy firm EConsult Solutions, allows Trend to more accurately predict retail opportunities and reduce risks.

03 Oct 2016

Guess Who Else Thinks We Need More Green?

South Shore is a beautiful place, but I believe all places could benefit from having a little more landscaping. Looks like Tiger Woods agrees, too! How are you feeling about the possible change?

Taken from: Tiger Woods could be teaming up with Mike Keiser on Chicago golf course project | GolfDigest Sept. 15

According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, [Tiger] Woods could be involved in a Chicago golf course project involving Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser. NBC/Golf Channel’s Mark Rolfing told the Tribune the Woods hiring is “not a done deal,” but Keiser believes the 14-time major champ “is on board” and that he may waive his design fee since the course will benefit the First Tee of Greater Chicago.

The project, which would create a championship golf course out of two existing public tracks, Jackson Park and South Shore courses, is not a done deal yet, either. Although the involvement of Keiser and Woods would help in the development that would have some holes along the lakefront and be just steps away from the Obama Library. Having the support of the golf-loving President wouldn’t hurt, either.

In an email to the Tribune, Woods’ spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, said, “At this time, we have no new design projects to announce.”

Rolfing said Woods took a tour of the property last month and two-time Masters champ and renowned course designer Ben Crenshaw has also checked out the site. Rolfing hopes the project will include a short course for kids and quick rounds, and Keiser envisions it being a walking-only facility like Bandon Dunes.

03 Oct 2016

Benefits and Value of Plants

Have you ever stop in the midst of a casual walk, a stroll in your neighborhood or a park, gazed about noticing and paying attention to the trees, grass areas and, various plant materials around you? What thoughts might have wandered through your mind what feelings inside may have overcome you or stirred emotions within you? Or, are the trees, shrubbery and grass areas taken for granted, no attention paid?

Have you ever thought, pondered what value, and the importance of plant materials to you, your very life and existence? How about, the economic contribution plant materials provide to mankind in general? Have you ever thought about, seriously considered the array of benefits plants provide you?  

Plants provide oxygen, essential for you and I to breathe, food to eat, source of all medicinal needs as well as materials for shelter. These being just the basics! Oh! So much more plants contribute to our everyday life and living, yet often so many times taken for granted!
(Google “Benefits of Plants” to learn more!)

03 Oct 2016

Horticulture & Education

Horticulture and Children Daycare, Elementary, and High School Education:

Something I think about often: maximizing exterior space use of school property, increasing educational tools and process for teaching children. A serious conversation and a strategic action plan initiation to consider.

Consider this….

“With children’s access to the outdoors and the natural world becoming increasingly limited and/or nonexistent, child care, kindergarten and schools, where children spend 40 to 50 hours per week, may be mankind’s last opportunity to reconnect children with the natural world and create a future generation that values and preserves nature (Herrington and Studtmann 1998, Malone and Tranen 2003)”.

“Many authorities believe the window of opportunity for the formation of bonding with and positive attitudes towards the natural environment develops sometime during early and middle childhood and requires regular interaction with nearby nature (Cohen and Horn-Wingerg 1993)”.

I suggest “School Grounds” are the perfect space in urban inner cities schools for kids to be kids, at the earliest of age at play, interacting, exploring and observing nature together. Transforming the school exterior grounds into outdoor learning environments, that is, outdoor learning laboratories is an educational opportunity to be captured and utilized. Connecting our young people to various aspects of nature, ecology, a realm of science not to be dismissed nor forgotten. Imagine school grounds as a place for investigating, analyzing soil, plant materials, observing insects, hydrology and water flow all done at appropriate age and grade levels. Also, as a part of social interaction.

Around this subject matter much research exist. Adding to this thinking is research which also support the horticulture impact in terms of how a school’s landscape looks viewed from within, impacts and influence children’s learning, behavior and retention in a positive manner. Provided done with these concerns in mind.      

The possibilities suggested here potentially could have a reallocation of funds over time from maintenance to the actual educational lessons by way of landscape maintenance cost reduction.

Suggestion: to learn more, google:

  1. Landscaping impact on student learning at schools
  2. Landscaping and horticulture improve children education and learning
  3. Incremental Integration: A successful service-learning strategy
  4. Children nature and
  5. Your Children’s Relationship with Nature: Its importance to children’s development and the earth’s future
  6. Young children’s relationship with nature the seed of learning
  7. The need for nature: a childhood right
20 Oct 2015

Ask Jennifer: Your Gardening Questions Answered

I would like to grow some “barometer plants” to use as an early warning system for my garden. What plants are first to respond to frost, first to bolt and first to wilt? Is this a waste of time? It’s not a waste of time, but I’m not sure you’d have to invest in any particular variety. I would use half-hardy annuals that are sensitive to frost, such as cosmos lobelia