September 27: Community Stewardship Workday

25 Sep

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to see the gorgeous and vibrant grasses changing color, work more on prickly pear monitoring, and collect seeds from some of our favorite native plants!

Join us this Saturday September 27 from 10am-12pm.

Please remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday October 25 – Last workday of the season

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August 23: Community Stewardship Workday

20 Aug

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to kick off a new monitoring project! Everyone loves the native prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) and we have a very healthy and vigorous population at RBD. By monitoring individuals over time, we’ll have evidence of how the population changes in size and in timing of important life events (making new leaves, flowering, making fruits, etc.). Our goal for this workday will be to mark (with a small flag) each of the individuals in the nature area.

Join us this Saturday August 23 from 10am-12pm.

Please remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday September 27 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday October 25 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Date TBD — Bird walk

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July 26: Community Stewardship Workday

24 Jul

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to see how plants and insects on the beach thrive in summer weather! We’ll ID native wildflowers and grasses, pick up trash, get rid of invasive plants; whatever needs doing.

Join us this Saturday July 26 from 10am-12pm.

Please remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday August 23 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday September 27 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday October 25 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD

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Followup: June 28 workday

5 Jul

 

The flowering plants at the Dunes are exploding this time of year. It’s very orange and yellow now. If you only visit Rainbow Beach Dunes once this year, I’d suggest going in the next couple weeks!

We had a great group at the Dunes last Saturday, on June 28: park neighbors, old friends, master gardeners, Chicago Cares volunteers.

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We took a nature hike, and then went to work pulling weeds (cheatgrass) from between the cactus and little bluestem.

 

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The tree on the edge of the parking lot is gone!

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June 28: Community Stewardship Workday

23 Jun

The showy season has begun! Prickly pear cactus has started its first blooms, along with butterfly weed, and purple prairie clover. We will take a nature walk to see all the action around the site. But the window of opportunity to get rid of more cheatgrass has not closed, so we will also work on weeding.

Join us this Saturday June 28 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it may be windy and wet, or sunny and dry! Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Every Sunday this summer from 12-5 in Rainbow Beach Park at 79th/South Shore — come to the South Shore Farmers Market!

Saturday July 26 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday August 23 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday September 27 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD

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Calumet Quarter students visit Rainbow Beach Dunes

13 Jun

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This spring, I taught a course (Topics in Calumet Ecology) for University of Chicago undergrads in the Calumet Quarter — an experiential place-based program in environmental studies (check out the blog of our awesome students here). One of our field trips was to Rainbow Beach Dunes (on a cold day in May) and you can view photos of the trip here.  One of the students wrote a blog post about the history of Rainbow Beach!

The Story Behind Rainbow Beach

Since I was unable to go on the Rainbow Beach Dunes field trip I did some research on the site and did a write up on some of the interesting history of the area. The most incredible thing that I found was the story of the wade-ins that occurred in the summers of 1960 and 1961. The public spaces of Chicago were technically open to anyone at that time, but Rainbow Beach on Lake Michigan was effectively a white-only beach. On August 28, 1960 Velma Murphy Hill decided to change that. She led a small group of activists to the beach, and attempted to have a relaxing outing. However, it was uncomfortable for all of the brave activists, as many of the typical patrons of the beach stared, made comments or left. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. When they decided to leave the beach, a huge group of men and women hemmed the activists in and began to shout at them. As the waders continued walking to leave, the mob began to throw stones as well as screaming, and Velma Murphy Hill was hit in the head with one of the larger rocks. She was sent to the hospital and received stitches for the wound, but despite the injury continued to push for the integration of the beach.

As the summer continued, the waders did not give in to the fear or the pressure of the angry masses, heading to the beach every day and enduring the awful treatment at the hands of the other beachgoers. As the movement grew in strength, the NAACP began to provide support, lobbying the City of Chicago to protect the activists, and sending other activists to increase the number of waders. Eventually, the City of Chicago took notice and began to provide the protestors with support as well. The most famous moment of the movement occurred on July 8, 1961. The waders arrived under the protection of 200 police men to keep the mob back as the numbers continued to swell throughout the day. There were 10 arrests made that day alone, and fortunately none of the protestors were injured. The protests continued after that day, but the angry mob began to dwindle. Every day the police and waders arrived at the beach in tandem until the police were no longer necessary.

Throughout this quarter we have been studying how the people in a certain area interact with their environment, but I think that it is also interesting and important to look at how they interact with each other within that environment. Today, Rainbow Beach is a place where Chicagoans of all races can come to relax, and had it not been for the brave efforts of Velma Murphy Hill and her fellow waders, the story may not have been the same.

 

May 17: Community Stewardship Workday

14 May

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It is cheatgrass season! This invasive grass (Bromus tectorum) is typically thought of wreaking havoc on rangelands in the western US, but it is moving across our site as well. This is an easy one for volunteers to pull, so we’ll be focusing on it for the May workday.

Join us this Saturday May 17 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it may be windy and wet. Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday May 17 (not 5/24) – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday June 28 – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday July 26 – Community Stewardship Workday

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April 19: Community Stewardship Workday

16 Apr

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to clean up trash in the nature area, and start this season’s invasive species hunt. We’ll begin by looking for cheatgrass. We’ll also look for the earliest flowering species at the dunes: arctic bearberry and sand dune rockcress!

Join us this Saturday April 19 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it may be windy and wet. Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday May 17 (not 5/24) – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday June 28 – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday July 26 – Community Stewardship Workday

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Goodbye 2013; hello 2014

25 Mar

We sent our stewardship activities on winter break after our last workday of 2013, October 26.

Volunteers collected seeds from healthy little bluestem populations in the center of the nature area and dispersed them in the developing area on the east end.

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We started up again just last weekend, with volunteers collecting 4 big bags of trash! We’re ready to start the year with a clean slate.

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March 22: Community Stewardship Workday

17 Mar

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday for the first workday of 2014! The dunes are laying low: grasses matted down from heavy snow, frozen wetlands, and a huge ice shelf on the lake. The only thing green out there is moss, drenched with snowmelt.

We’ll survey the effects of winter and pick up trash that has been tossed on shore and blown into the nature area.   Join us this Saturday March 22 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it will be cold and windy! Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, equipment, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday April 19 (not 4/26) – Community Stewardship Workday/Earth Day celebration
Saturday May 17 (not 5/24) – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday June 28 – Community Stewardship Workday

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2014 Community Stewardship Workdays

9 Mar

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Join us from 10am-12pm  on (usually) the 4th Saturday of the month from March to October to watch Rainbow Beach Dunes change throughout the year. We typically clean up trash, pull weeds, plant native plants, disperse native seeds, or collect native seeds.

March 22 (if there is still snow on the ground, postponed until 3/29)

April 19 (not 4/26)

May 17 (not 5/24)

June 28

July 26

August 23

September 27

October 25

Henry Chandler Cowles and the ecological theory of succession

24 Nov

When I lead stewardship work at Rainbow Beach Dunes, I speak often but briefly about Henry Chandler Cowles and his important contribution to understanding the dune ecosystems of southern Lake Michigan. Victor Cassidy (who I had the pleasure of meeting at the centennial celebration of the International Phytogeograpic Excursion earlier this year) wrote a terrific and highly recommended book about him: Henry Chandler Cowles: Pioneer Ecologist. You should read this.

But in the mean time, have a look at his 2007 article from Chicago Wilderness Magazine.

Henry Chandler Cowles:
Ecologist, Teacher, Conservationist

By Victor M. Cassidy

Through his life and work, he prefigured today’s conservation movement–and Chicago Wilderness.

Cowels
Photos courtesy of the University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center, University Department of Botany Records

On April 25, 1896, Henry Chandler Cowles visited the Indiana Dunes for the first time. “We climbed up the wonderful piles of sand and saw acres and acres stretching up and down the lake, billowy like a prairie or vast drifts of snow,” the University of Chicago graduate student wrote in his diary. “The sand dune flora is very characteristic and new to me.”

(READ MORE)

October 26: Community Stewardship Workday

22 Oct

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to see how plants and insects on the beach prepare for winter. We’ll collect and disperse seeds from little bluestem and take a nature walk.   Join us this Saturday October 26 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area and it’s windy by the lake. Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools and equipment will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday November 24 – last workday of the year!

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Recent workday photos

22 Oct

Autumn is a great time of year to collect seeds from native plants at the dunes because so many bloom in the summer time.

We’ve been collecting:
Dalea purpurea - purple prairie clover

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Liatris aspera
- rough blazing star

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Monarda fistulosa – wild bergamot

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Volunteers came from the South Shore neighborhood, Chicago Cares, Gary Comer College Prep, and elsewhere in Chicago.

September 28: National Public Lands Day

23 Sep

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Join friends, neighbors and other volunteers at Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday September 28 from 10am-12pm. The native grasses have started turned crimson and there are seeds of all species ready to be collected throughout the site. Along with volunteers across the country, we’ll be good stewards of our local natural area!

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area and it’s windy by the lake. Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended.

Rainbow Beach is located at 3111 E. 77th St. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, enter from 79th St., turn left at the fence/T-intersection, go into the park, past the water filtration plant, and park in the first parking lot. Please meet at the entrance to the nature area, which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!). Tools and equipment will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

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