A Green Vision for Chicago

What I'm trying to do in the city is to make good habitat for nature and people. We didn't used to allow nature to exist in a small little park. But we can. I want to bring more nature into parks and boulevards so they can be habitat for trees, birds, flowers, and people. The neighborhoods and schools need to be comfortable and green.

We need to learn how to restore the kind of neighborhoods people like. It's all becoming concrete, steel, and engineers. We've lost contact with what life is all about. What's really important? It's the personal things. A tree, a child, flowers. We need to soften the cities. Neighborhoods need nature. We're taking nineteen abandoned gas stations and making pocket parks. These become little areas for birds, flowers, and trees. That's what it's all about.

In the past, people's experience of a school in the city was concrete and broken windows. So we're putting in landscaping and play yards and trees.

Kids need nature. If it's all turf grass, there's no nature there. Kids need ball fields, but they need nature too. We're putting nature back in the parks.

We're [also] building an environmental park on the roof of City Hall. It's not a recreational park; it's an environmental park. It's going to help clean the air, cool the Loop in the summer; the Loop needs that. We're looking at all the flat roofs — old construction and new construction — to see how we can enhance the environment of the city.

We can help people by planting trees, by putting in pocket parks that are habitat. When you have people start to appreciate their piece of property, they can do more about everything else. Taking care of nature is part of life. If you don't take care of your tree and don't take care of your child, they won't thrive.

Our forefathers did a great job with the forest preserves but everywhere else is all concrete and getting worse. It's really scary.

Richard M. Daley
Mayor of Chicago
quoted by Debra Shore & Stephen Packard
Chicago Wilderness Magazine
Spring 2000