Rahm Lights Up Chicago? Be Sure to Clean Up Thoroughly First!

Inspired by a news story heard this morning on Chicago’s CBS affiliate radio station, News Radio 780 WBBM, I present:

CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!

1. To Beautify a Space, First Make a Plan

When someone designs anything –  a garden, a car, a cityscape, a grand hotel or an office building or a home, the process begins with a plan. People sit down and draw a plan that goes from the mind, the workings of the brain, onto paper and also on a computer. A lot goes into making progress: the way the group works together, weather, availability of funds and of the location suited to the project… so many variables.

The important factor is that the planners work together in a civilized atmosphere with all that is needed to make the plan come to life. Whatever is needed: coffee, tea, a new office, travel to other destinations, booking a hotel or a limo to get to where the plans will take shape, a quiet place to sit and draw it up… everyone must agree to what will make the plan a success.

2. To Beautify a City, Talk to Everyone Who Has a Say in How it will Look (or should look)

** And that means EVERYONE, EVERYBODY who is a member of that city and community! **

Start by doing at the very least what will make communities better: THINK UNITY! One reason we are so fragmented is that we are thinking along demographic lines, not person to person and civil lines. We are thinking in ways that box us in (race, income, ethnicity, religious creed) instead of thinking on common ground and thinking towards what will make progress. We will make progress only when we clean up ourselves in all those ways that make humans special: in mental, spiritual, and physical ways.

We need to clean up areas of gang violence. Why, even the very idea, the term “gang violence” is ridiculous. The gangs were not here first and people are sick and tired of hearing about them on the news every day. The more the press gives attention to the gangs and those actions related to them, the more they will do those things that get them press time and air time and talk in the reports. NO MORE GANGS! Folks, get brave and get those gangs out of the area, right now. Stop your need for drugs and guns; YOU DON’T NEED THAT STUFF and you don’t need anyone to help you solve problems, at least not that way.

You can solve your own problems without drugs, illegal guns, and membership of and the presence of gangs. How stupid can we get, tolerating gangs. REALLY. Gangs are nothing and nobodies and mean nothing to us except for the trouble they cause. Well, run those punks off your street corners, clean them out of your area and get involved.

When we get our streets and land cleaned up, we can turn to beautification.

But we must make sure the gangs are out of the picture, the abandoned buildings are either renovated or torn down, the lots are cleaned and free of pests, trash, rats, squatters, etc., and the streets are safe for people to work on, play on, and go to school and work on.

The job does not do itself; we have to use elbow grease, folks. We have to run the gangs out with shouts, voices, prayers, music so loud they can’t transact and will leave the area, stones if necessary, sticks and pelting those punks with bottles and rotten tomatoes until they get the message. GO AWAY AND DON’T COME BACK. These are OUR streets, understand!?

Assess, once the area is safe, what your area looks like. What are the main problems and who will help you solve them? Who will help you break through the red tape and get the funds and the materials necessary to get the community looking better? Are the problems viaducts that flood, then sit on the departments of water and streets and sanitation until they get off their behinds and act to solve the problems.

Is the problem a lot full of trash and debris? Well then, get in there with a group and clean it up. Get the tools of the cleanup trade: tarps, rakes, shovels, sturdy gauntlet gloves, bug spray, insect repellent, trash bags, trash cans, dumpsters to haul the stuff away, and people who will be available to have food and drink ready to serve to volunteers who, literally, work for food in such cases.

3. Beautification Begins With a Thorough Cleanup Campaign

* For a city Chicago’s size, is a month enough? *

For the mayor’s plan to work, Chicago needs a thorough cleanup. There is enough bird poop in the Loop to build a wall, so no matter what we feel towards wildlife, the pigeons must go. After all, pigeons are introduced pests from Europe. The proper name for these birds is the European Rock Dove. They were brought to America and have prospered due to a lack of natural enemies, so they must go. Accumulated droppings can lead to disease, and it looks really gross and smells even worse (like waste will do after a while), and animal waste attracts some of the worst pests of all, the disease -bearing rats we are trying to rid out of our city.

The L stations, the entire L structure, and buildings along that area of the Loop must be power -washed and cleaned down, right to the sidewalks, and then anti -pest programs must be instituted. Putting up anything that will get rid of the pigeons is necessary… either that or bring in a natural solution, the amazing Peregrine Falcon and the super Cooper’s Hawk.

These birds are bird -eaters, and will go after anything when they are hungry, and there is a plentiful supply of pigeons. We could then return these birds to a natural setting or watch them breed and enjoy the balance they will bring to controlling the pest population.

We must also assess the pollution in our city in order to find the right ways to clean up such problems as petroleum coke, or petcoke, which is documented as causing caustic pollution to an area of Chicago near a plant that harbors piles of this black sooty stuff that gets on people’s homes and into their yards and into their lungs. Chemicals pollute our water, trash litters our beaches and litter clogs our streets and alleys. Corporations need to be held seriously accountable for their practices, for no matter whether they say that their studies show they are acting within the law, doing so does not mean that what they produce and how they manufacture is good or right or best or decent. Those who produce and harbor the petcoke say they are acting within the law and are doing nothing wrong, but in using such language they are completely ignoring the residents of that area who suffer from the black dust that floats into their neighborhood.

Also, excess light is a form of pollution. It is now shown that light pollution harms the circadian rhythm and causes stress to the human body and mind. We need our dark spaces and our real night spaces so we can rest, have quiet and transition from work to rest. In those areas where the mayor wants these light displays, people do live, and the mayor wants to attract more tourists to those areas. People need their space… residents need their space away from tourists’ eyes, and people do live downtown.

Do you wonder why our city has that odd dirty -bronze rusty -golden color at night? Light pollution, plain and simple. We are thrown into thinking we have to act and work all day and all year no matter what, because of this overblown presence of artificial light. We need to turn it off, not turn it on, and we need more efficient lighting, using mirrors, reflectors, solar power, whatever it takes to conserve energy and make our use of it more efficient. Besides, as the news story related, Paris, the famous “City of Lights” is trying to cut down on its golden reputation and reduce use of light. This is more energy efficient. Why Chicago wants to use excess light, even more light on buildings and bridges and historic structures, is not logical. We need less light , not more light.

There are times and places for tourists and times and places for residents. Residents’ needs and wishes come first, plain and simple.

Trash along a Chicago street.

So, Your Honor, before you get some high-minded plan to light up the city, be sure that what you want to highlight is what you want the world to see. Be absolutely sure that you want the world to see trash on the riverfront, homeless veterans roaming the lakefront and the riverfront and the Loop digging in trash cans and sleeping on corners. Be sure you want the world to see places where gangs shoot up innocent people and teenagers roam in flash mobs terrorizing law -abiding tourists and citizens shopping and dining along Michigan Avenue and towards the Loop. Be completely sure you want the world to see the petcoke, the trash on the bridges, the dirty buildings, the oil on the lake, the glass fragments and other debris on the beaches, the bird poop in the Loop and the trash along the highways. Do you want the world to see and hear about the gangs, the drugs, the labor disputes and the airport noise?

We could spend months getting the trash picked up from the roadsides and still only begin to make a dent in the pollution that plagues Chicago.

Let’s get up and get to it, folks. The roads and bridges are not going to clean up on their own.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. Wikimedia Commons, searched through GOOGLE images.

2. http://waronfilth.com/tag/broken-glass.

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Peregrines Answer to Pigeon Problem?

This bird lover and nature-watcher certainly think so, and in light of news about pigeons around transit stations and other places in the Chicagoarea lately, let’s look at how to safely keep the pigeons in check.

A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) at the b...

A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) at the bird show at New York State Fair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First thing we must remember is that this present crop of pigeons, if the information is correct, is an introduced and invasive and pestilent species from Europe. Thus their regular name of the European Rock Dove. Only a few were brought to this country but now do we have a problem, and a big and messy one at that.

Now pigeons are life, and many deem them beautiful to watch and to feed, but you should never feed the pigeons in the parks or other public places. Disease can spread and cause trouble for both the birds and people exposed to excessive bird poop and the presence of nests. The pigeons will congregate wherever there is food available and good nesting sites. Of course many building owners and transit agencies try the spiky additions to eaves, roofs and ledges but the pigeons seem only to find other places to hang out.

Also as pigeons are life, they should not be poisoned. Besides poisons spread out with intent to kill one species can only harm other species, so poisons are out as methods of keeping pests in check in public areas and around parks. And of course birds, insects, and small animals are part of the natural food chain- something eats them and they eat other things. It is not safe to use potent poisons and herbicides around areas where the larger animals and birds feed – larger ones such as the Peregrine Falcon.

It so happens that we in Chicago are fortunate to have Peregrines in presence, and one pair atop The Clare near Loyola apparently has young ones within. These magnificent birds are more than just stunning to look at, more than majestic in flight and fast on the wing; they eat pigeons and abundantly, too.

It would certainly be fine if we would share our Peregrines with Oak Park, and bring them around areas of Chicago overrun with pigeons especially around transit stations. In additon to the Peregrine Falcon, great use could be made of bringing in hungry Cooper’s Hawks, which are members of the Accipiter class of predatory birds that includes the Goshawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk. I think staff at the Field Museum and/ or the Museum of Science and Industry could find ways to bring the Peregrines to those infested areas and let them have at those pigeons.

As the Peregrine is an endangered species, we should do this basic step to bring their population back. After all, the use of chemicals on our part caused many of the birds to die. We did not eliminate the Bald Eagle, and thank goodness, and now we are helping to bring their population back as well. Certainly it would be spectacular to see the Peregrines and their companions wheeling magnificently above more of our region, gracing the skies over Oak Park, relaxing in the trees of the parks or atop the buildings. You can even see them with their stunning wings in the windows of the John Hancock Center and the famous Signature Room restaurant.

Are there Peregrines nesting around you? Contact your local museum or nature society or ornithological organization to find out how to work with them to preserve them. Perhaps you can designate a protected site for them, or if they are in a potentially dangerous area arrange to have them taken to a safer place.

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

The Peregrine Falcon is a major predator of ra...

The Peregrine Falcon is a major predator of racing pigeons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHICAGO RIVER GETS A CLEAN-UP

CHICAGO RIVER GETS A GOOD CLEANUP…BUT IS THE PLAN CAREFULLY THOUGHT OUT?

Those who have watched the old Universal Sports channel, broadcast in Chicago three years ago, might have seen events performed on the Han River in South Korea. Now if that river is clean enough to swim and boat in, we would deem that the smaller Chicago River could also be made clean enough to enjoy water sports in.

There are some problems I note with how the river is all ready used, however. Now there are pros and cons to attempts to attract tourists and residents to Chicago’s vibrant lakefront and along the riverfront, such as developing high-end real estate for hotels and condominiums and boutique shoppes, but where there are people and pets there is trash and waste.

Waste products are the very thing the millions of dollars allocated to clean the river are meant to get rid of. The talk is of reducing or sterilizing the stuff that comes from water treatment plants/ sewage, and that is well and good. But trash gets into the water every day, from daily use of the river. Wrappers, food scraps, and probably pet waste, ends up sooner or later in the river and along its banks. Getting rid of those problems would be as equal a challenge as working on the flushed and treated water we use every day. Of course there are the birds that frequent the waters too- and we know the issues that can come forth from birds, especially when food is in the offering.

Gulls just love to be where there are food scraps to scavenge, and crows love to forage as well. The Canada Geese however are so abundant that they do more than just entertain bird lovers with their antics of winging about looking for scraps. Canada Geese are noted for their- ahem- regular green deposits along waterways and sidewalks, which can in copious quantities be rather hard to avoid.

There are other causes of waste accumulation as well that need to be addressed, for the benefit of the entire environmental and water system of the city. The horse carriages that take tourists around also have drivers with the unfortunate habit of dumping the waste bags’ contents around residential areas and restaurants, and I have no doubt that sooner or later those wastes make it into the Chicago River and the sewers. Those who are around pets regularly also realize that waste products attract rats, and it would be nice if every consideration was made to ridding the waters and sidewalks of these residuals. People who litter are equaly as inconsiderate as pet owners who do not properly clean after their dogs- sooner or later that hot dog holder or hamburger wrapper might end up in the river.

Another problem area, from which trash might make its way into the main river system, are along the river and stream banks seen on the BNSF train route. I have seen enough trash and debris along those water systems to keep an army of cleaner-uppers occupied for weeks on end to get those areas in shape. Runoff from that disgusting stuff makes its way no doubt into the water systems we all use, and from the looks of some of the stuff lining those banks I hope the water management system is up to handling tons more of really foul looking garbage. I just wonder that the people who live along those waterways do not put much effort into getting down there and cleaning up or getting the proper authorities to handle the situation if there is indeed toxic material on those banks. It would be worth the time of the officials in the areas lining that train route to carefully inspect those water systems and see the depth of the situation and get the residents and businesses involved in making everything look a lot better.

Fortunately there are people who are trying to make a dent in the trash and waste problem, those who want to keep the river system as clean as possible, and who are arranging days on which to put effort forward to keep the waters as free of waste as possible. Some folks have been doing this for years now, and I hope the efforts continue long after the dedicated days of cleanup and revitalization are finished. Policing the waterways is of vital importance and should be done regularly.

Take it to heart, folks, when you put some good elbow grease into making the environment better, you do more than the literal work that is visible for a day or so. Think about it!

Divi and ®EDUSHIRTS, ©2004 – 2012. E-mail me with comments, questions, or for use permission at in2intellect@aol.com. Courtesy counts. Thank you!

Bald Eagle Eyes: A Twist to the Old Shooting Range

EAGLES SEEN ON SITE OF POSSIBLE CHICAGO POLICE SHOOTING RANGE!

MAGNIFICENT! is what came to my mind when I just watched the news story on CBS Channel 2 in Chicago about the Bald Eagles nesting on the site of the proposed Chicago Police outdoor shooting range.

Again, nature foils the silly plans of officials who have to see it to believe it, and shown up front that their plans will not always work. Thanks to the work of nature taking its course, their precious shooting range will have to be put elsewhere.  And why is that?

First of all, it will teach those water management high-ups to pay more attention to what people in those districts are saying, especially when it comes to issues about wildlife, which we consider so very important in this area. The Chicago Audubon Society, nicely featured in that news article, came out with their cameras to take the right kind of shots of the Eagles, and not the kind that would disrupt their grounds.

Second, those birds are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the officials here cannot lay a hand on the Eagles’ habitat. As they are, by the very government that was trying to put the shooting range up, protected from any sort of disruption of their breeding grounds, feeding grounds, nesting grounds or migration routes, they are not to be disturbed. It is as if nature put up a huge DO NOT DISTURB- GO AWAY! sign on those precious acres.

I hope our officials will be conscious of what they are doing, their decisions made on such important issues, and will actually visit such sites to see their beauty and necessity before giving a go-ahead for such a thing as an outdoor shooting range. Those birds would be distressed and would leave the habitat with such noise and nuisance going on, and they probably would not return.

Wildlife habitat is in danger in this country as it is, from spraying, from habitat destruction to make room for those hideous urban developments with their throw-up houses and clustered shopping malls, and from pollution brought in by those new cars, construction gear, and discarded building materials. We have not been kind to our plants, birds, animals, and fish in the past decades, and need to be very careful when we are thinking of further outdoor work.

I am glad nature won this round. No doubt the police can find somewhere else to put their shooting range, somewhere that will not disturb 30-plus acres of natural beauty, that will be safe and will not endanger humans or wildlife.

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2004- 2012.

Chicago: Train Station Heaters are for People not Pigeons

Inspired by a story aired on NEWS RADIO 780 WBBM, CHICAGO This Week

** PIGEONS ARE PESTS **

In the radio article, basic information was  given about customer reaction to the pigeon presence under the heat lamps- some not bothered and others disgusted. Story comments add both sides to the story. Resource for the news article is listed at the end of this post.

The article contained some rather stomach-upsetting references to groups of pigeons gathering at space heaters used around Chicago train stops. Now, PETA might have given a nod to the CTA for their treatment of pigeons but the fact remains that these birds, multiplying in the millions, are not only pests but no matter now pretty they are, how shiny and colorful, they are not harmless; they are introduced pests.

The Pigeon, or in its true name the European Rock Dove, is an introduced species, as its name implies. They breed year-throughout and the droppings are places for three disease-bearing fungi to reproduce. These are histoplamosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis. Please see the excellent article referenced below for more on these diseases.

The problem is that these birds gather and accumulate anywhere, building nests and sheltering in and around awnings, eaves and ledges, and anywhere they gain a hold and have a place out of the wind. They sit on street lights and traffic lights and posts. Their presence is particularly unappealing around grocery stores, drugstores, and restaurants, specially when people are feeding them near those areas. Feathers, nests, and other pigeon evidence is not a healthy thing to have around food and medications. And another problem is that the pigeons seem to have few natural predators… except one which I saw in action a few weeks ago.

Before moving to Chicago I became fascinated with the movements and appearances of the Cooper’s Hawk. During times of plenty when the doves, a relative of the pigeon, gathered in our area, the hawk showed up around 4 to 5 PM many afternoons to forage. Two dozen doves quickly became twelve, and then fewer than that, and the hawk looked healthy as ever.

It was fun watching the bird tree-hop, moving from branch to branch, in a pattern, as I observed it, seeming to go to the same branches or in the same area of the taller trees each time. It would go around the yard for an hour or so then take off in the same direction across the next street over and vanish into the sunset and the dense tree cover.

Cooper’s Hawks are bird-eaters, and across the way in Chicago I noticed one feasting on a pigeon. I observed it through binoculars, as it was in a tree near someone’s deck. The bird went about a casual pace, having a nice nosh. I watched periodically and did not notice when the hawk left the tree.

Take care when cleaning around where pigeons have congregated! Again, see the article cited in the first Resource entry for information on taking caution when working in such areas.

RESOURCES CITED FOR THIS ARTICLE

1. For information regarding pigeons: “Facts about Pigeon-Related Diseases.” Environmental and Occupational Disease Epidemiology. New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 29 January 2012. http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/epi/epi-pigeon.shtml>

2. For image of Pigeon: “Rock Pigeon.” 15 January 2012. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 29 January 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Pigeon>

3. Find stunning copyrighted images of the magnificent Cooper’s Hawk and related species at the website for the Seattle Audubon Society, at http://birdweb.org/birdweb/bird/coopers_hawk

4. For radio resource: “Pigeons Crowd Under Heat Lamps at “L” Stops.” Reporter Steve Miller. CBS. WBBM Newwsradio 780 and 105.9 AM, Chicago. 26 January 2012. <http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/01/26/pigeons-crowd-under-heat-lamps-at-l-stops/>

5. For how to cite media sources:  “How to Cite Media: Television and Radio.” Handman, Gary. Media Resources Center, Moffitt Library. Library, Last update 11/04/08. University of California, Berkeley.
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/. 31 January 2012. <http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/mla.html#tv>

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2004 – 2012. E-mail author for use permission at d308gtb289@aol.com. Courtesy counts. Thanks for cooperating.

Chicago: Dark Skies For a Healthier Community

The Healthy Benefits of Dark-sky Programs in the United States: What Astronomy Can do for You.
 

Stellar-class star watching: free of charge in dark-sky America!

 
Wars come in all kinds: there are drug wars, germ and chemical wars, conventional and digital wars fought on physical battlefields and television screens. There are wars against obesity and battles against childhood cancer.
 
And then there are other wars, such as those we wage against the heavy pollutants that cloud our cities and put thousands of tons of metals, chemicals, and dust into our air. There is also another war- against that product of “progress”; we call it LIGHT POLLUTION. In fact light pollution is ranked now among hazards such as tobacco smoke and other carcinogens as being a factor in the poor health we now face.
 
Light pollution disrupts our circadian rhythm, can be a factor in breast cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and sleep disorders. We think ourselves safer with so much artificial lights around our homes and apartments, lining our streets and shining from office buildings and skyscrpers every night, but we are just the opposite. We are not safe at all, and because of too much artificial light we are putting our health at risk. Not only are we putting human health at risk, but too much light, urban sprawl, and otherconstruction activity disrupts migration patterns for birds and butterflies, and destroys the habitat of animals such as foxes, coyotes, and deer.
 
We need to stop bickering and start acting for the good of our citizens, as our very health and all that is built on it- indeed the strength of this nation, depends on having the most healthy environment possible.
 
Officials of America, we elected you to improve things, not make the situation worse. You can begin by putting party lines and dogma aside, settling down, putting politics aside, and taking a look at the benefits of programs such as the dark -sky observing events offered by many organizations. You can do the best thing for your constituents by seeing what is needed to make us healthier and get the ball rolling for real improvements.
 
Challenge the industries in your state, the schools and technical institutes too, to design and test better light fixtures for streets and buildings. Not only do we need better designs for them but perhaps through better design we can have fewer invasive lights to throw any kind of light pollution into the viewing atmosphere. Shade the beams downward instead of around and up, where the light is no loger used to give safety to the road but is then wasted. Reduce carbon emissions by turning off lights or dimming them where there is little or no use for them.
 
It will not be long before you start to see the healthy benefits of dark -sky programs and the promotion of them. Get outside sometime, to an area of this country… your country… and take a look at what you have been missing. The stars, the moon, the galaxies and the planets are waiting for you!
 

Deep field images- our wonderful night skies full of color and natural light!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Divi Logan and ® EDUSHIRTS, © 2004 – 2011, Nashville and Chicago. Please e-mail the author at d308gtb289@aol.com for permission to use any part of these articles, my blogs, or illustrations contained therein. Courtesy counts. Thank you.