ML - Michigan Avenue

2013 - Issue 3 - May/June

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 57 of 147

SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY Students build a fence for Al Raby's Outdoor Living Classroom. BELOW: Jayni Chase reviews Pi Day presentations. BOTTOM LEFT: Former President Clinton and President Obama speak at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012. "That's part of greening: The community works together." —JAYNI CHASE continued from page 54 us. After officially starting at Al Raby in January, we had this huge Pi Day event on March 14. Mayor Daley came, and Chevy and I were there. What was amazing was that the project had really taken hold—the kids had sunk their teeth into it. The teachers had the kids doing the 56 relevant math, things like going home and timing everybody's showers. It was extraordinary. Then they pooled the data, and realized that most members of this community were taking an average of 15-minute showers. That alone gave the kids something very eye-opening. They ran with it, measured energy use and water use, and created posters analyzing consumption and ways to be more energy-efficient. They took complete ownership of it. Back in the '80s and '90s, I would go to schools and stand up in front of everybody and talk. But at Al Raby, the kids were showing us. They opened up our eyes. It was just fabulous. Ultimately, the success of the program at Al Raby has been all about the people. The school is in a neighborhood that has quite a few empty lots; and where there are empty lots, violence and drug use go up. In one lot near the school, there was a flood spilling onto the sidewalk, and the kids had to walk around it into the street. The natural thing would have been to ask the city to work on the sewer system, but our resource coordinator said, "Wait a minute. We can do flood mitigation through planting on this lot. We can get donated plants for the kids to plant, and we can monitor the runoff. And every year, it's going to get less, and less, and less. This is an opportunity." They all joined together and made it happen. It's mind-blowing. I get very excited and choked up about these kinds of successes. The program is now also in other cities—Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Charlotte, and Pittsburgh. But Chicago is where we've had our greatest successes: One hundred percent of all the classes at Al Raby incorporate environmental education into the curriculum, 85 percent are taking active roles in promoting environmental sustainability, and 93 percent believe they've developed leadership skills to promote environmental sustainability. Last year we took some kids to Denver for the Green Schools National Conference. Most of them had never been on an airplane, and they sat at the conference so excited and inspired by the speakers—particularly Majora Carter, a good friend of ours who's an extraordinary force of nature. She grew up in the Bronx and got people behind cleaning up the parks and ending illegal dumping, and that was just the beginning. She is a very, very powerful speaker. The Al Raby kids were able to relate to her and were very moved by her. One student in particular, Shayla, came to me after Majora had spoken and said, "Do you think I could talk to her?" continued on page 58 PHOTOGRAPHY BY GETTY IMAGES (CLINTON) LEFT: MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM 054_059-MA_SP_SpiritofGen_MayJune13.indd 56 4/16/13 10:53 AM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of ML - Michigan Avenue - 2013 - Issue 3 - May/June