Friends of Big Marsh hosted the first Big Marsh Bike Ambassador program at Trumbull Park this Summer through a partnership with After School Matters. This program introduced fifteen teens to Big Marsh Park and bicycle commuting on the Southeast Side. From learning how to ride as a group, to visiting new community resources, and learning the importance of teamwork, the teens had an impactful summer.
Friends of Big Marsh, Project Coordinator, Chental Handy, was able to interview and assemble the team of young people, which included nine residents of South Deering, and was made up of 7 young women and 8 young men. The teens worked in groups to map their community, and learn about route planning and bike safety.
Civic engagement and an understanding of history was stressed with visits to the A Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, and a special visit with 10th Ward Alderwoman, Sue Sadlowski Garza's office. Teens had the chance to talk about potential problems that they may have been facing in their community with the 10th Ward Chief of Staff, and a the Pullman Porter Museum they met with teens participating in a ONE Summer Chicago program. At Steelworker's Park, the class was able to scale the rock-climbing features which have been installed on the ore wall of US Steel's Blast Furnace.
Aside from Civic Engagement, one theme of the Summer was proximity. Trumbull Park is less than a mile from Big Marsh, although a safe cycling route is about 4 miles each way. The teens were excited to find how liberating a bike can be. Communities and resources can seem disconnected, due to man-made barriers, but by riding as a group, they can be accessed safely and quickly.
Reflecting on the Summer, Chental said "Being at the ripe age of 14-18 I feel as though teens often bring much more than just themselves to work. A challenge I faced as an instructor was to ensure that our classroom and time together was a safe place; that it was okay to feel however they felt as long as they dealt with it in a positive manner." On the street, Chental kept the group together, "We always rode as slow as the slowest rider and if someone had to stop, we all stopped as a group."
"The Big Marsh Bike Ambassador program has been beneficial for many reasons." Said ambassador, Aitana Gonzales. "It has helped me know more about places to go in my community. Big Marsh Park is amazing. There are trails that you can either walk or ride bikes on, which is amazing if you love nature. The Bike Ambassador Program for Big Marsh is an amazing opportunity to go out more and have fun doing so. At Big Marsh, you don't even ride on streets, unless you're riding your bike there. The Big Marsh Bike Ambassador program was really beneficial and has brought a lot of people to Big Marsh and have fun riding bikes."
Another patricipant, Rachel White, added " For a community like Trumbull to have nothing but a negative look, the Big Marsh Bike Ambassador program brought fun and positivity to the neighborhood"
Friends of Big Marsh is excited to continue to build opportunities for area residents to bike to all the amenities of the Southeast Side. The Calumet Region is filled with opportunities to engage with our history and enjoy eco-recreation. It is an honor to share this with the youth of the community.
Saturday May 4th, volunteers from Valerio Dewalt Train (VDT) came to Big Marsh to help restore and redesign a storage containers at the park. This space will be used as a "volunteer base camp" where people can get their bearings, lock up their belongings, and find tools. Open Architecture Chicago was also on hand to discuss the park's potential and additional usage of shipping containers in the bike plaza.
Volunteer Opportunities !
At the park we currently offer monthly Clean + Greens, where we work together to clean up the park and the surrounding area. The above photo is from our May Clean + green, during which we collected 11 bags of trash.
The following Dates are upcoming Clean + Greens:
June 8th, 2019
July 13, 2019
August 17, 2019
September 14, 2019 (Followed by our annual Birds, Bikes, and Beats!)
October 12th, 2019
We will also host a Volunteer Training at the park (11559 S Stony Island) this Upcoming Saturday at 9am. For any questions or concerns please contact Paul Fitzgerald our Executive Director at email@example.com.
The following Passage is From Deloris Lucas who is the founder of We Keep You Rollin'! Her passion for cycling in r her community and the south side has driven her career and journey thus far. Eco Tours is one of the many fruits of her labor~~
WKYR kicked off the 2019 season with an Eco Tour via Electric Assist Loaner Bikes from Lime Bike & JUMP Bike. We even had a couple of E-Scooters too.
Even though I wasn’t cool enough to ride. lol
Only the brave participants whizzed up & down 131st & Vernon Street, which is where WKYR is located. And rode throughout Golden Gate park.
I made a rule that each WKYR bike ride gets a name…So the “Super Seventeen” got on the E-Bikes and headed out going west on 130th. Passing 127th Michigan Avenue on our trek to the Major Taylor Bike Trail.
We entered MTT @ 127th street just before the angle street (Vermont Ave.) And rode down to the bridge & saw more of the Little Calumet River. And there it was --the New 45 steel panel--Mural, installed July 2018. Everyone was thrilled & surprised to learn of the beautiful mural & seeing some of the history written on the mural itself of Marshall “Major” Taylor, Champion African American Bicycle racer during the 1900’s. All said they’d spread the word of the mural & visit again.
On our way back we stopped by the Little Calumet UGRR Project site, at 134th & St. Lawrence, in the Golden Gate Sub-division. And we saw the Black Privately-Owned “Chicago’s Finest” marina. Unfortunately, the Marina was closed but we are invited to visit in the summer.
We then headed to Beaubien Woods Boat Launch, and on our return, we cruised thru Altgeld passing the construction site of the new CPL Library & Community Building at 131st & Ellis.
All eyes were on us as we whizzed by gliding on those E-Bikes.
This ride made me reflect on how biking has really changed and that my neighborhood would be a good fit for the Electric Assist DIVVY Bikes when they arrive sometime this summer. All my hard advocacy work would have paid off in E-Bikes…even though I could use a few Benjamín’s. lol
So hopefully the E-DIVVY Bikes would be available to hit the ground rollin’ at least by June 22nd, just in time for the 4th Annual WKYR “LEGACY” Community Bike Ride.
- Deloric Lucas
For any further questions or concerns please contact Ms. Lucas at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the first day of spring Friends of Big Marsh joined The Chicago Park District and Stephen Bell's Frog Calling Survey at Big Marsh Park. It was Eerie being at the park so late but also really cool to hear frogs making a deput for Spring! One can listen to Chorus Frogs sing their call all night long!
The Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council is representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds, from health care and enforcement and community groups. MBAC focuses on a wide range of bicycle issues: safety, education, enforcement, and infrastructure investment. The Council will help identify issues, discuss ideas and set priorities for bicycle planning in Chicago.
After quick introductions around the room the council dove right into the Agenda. We learned a range of things that will prove to be quite useful on our journey of connecting Big Marsh to the communities.
Chair Hamiliton of MBAC updated us with the Bicycle Fatality and Crash report; there have been no fatalities reported yet this year, but there have been 5 serious injuries in 2019, compared to 17 at this time last year. Vision Zero is is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.;they will be releasing several reports before the year is over.
To build better relationships and fully understand the particular challenged faced by communities, MBAC has changed its leadership format. Moving forward, there will be representatives of six regions. A List of Community Reps Can be seen at the end of this post.
Joe Sislow, the Northwest Community Rep did a presentation; The challenges and priorities he highlighted were Connectivity. His priority is to Improve bike network connectivity between and build safer connections to existing assets, and his next steps are Identify key areas to connect on the south and east. This will be crucial in our journey for connecting Northwest communities to Big Marsh Park.
For other details about the meeting please visit chicagocompletestreets.org .
Far South- Deloris Lucas
Far North - Melanie Eckner
West - Jose Abonce
North - Jacob Peters
Northwest - Joe Sislow
The Friends of Big Marsh are getting ready for Spring with the some great opportunities for ecological volunteerism! The first event will be a training session to learn to distinguish the calls of native frogs on March 5th, followed by our first monthly clean + green on March 9th. On March 16th we will host the first trail maintanence volunteer session of the year! See below for more information.
FoBM's campaign kickoff party was a success!
On Tuesday, January 29th, more than 100 supporters of Friends of Big Marsh braved single-digit temperatures and forecasts of snow to celebrate and learn about the future plans for Big Marsh park! Lagunitas served delicious beer while guests dined on rib tips from The Slab and vegan "chicken wings" form Ste Martaen. Dudadius provided ambient electronic music patching and prodding a series of synthesizers. We would strongly recommend people check him out at any of his upcoming concerts! The main event, thoguh ,was the unveilling of our "Leaving the Nest, Taking Flight" plans. Guests were able to discuss what they would most like to see from a Nature Play Space as well as from the build-out of "The Big Hill" and learn about the upcoming "Big Marsh Ambassadors" program and ideas for increased Cyclocross programming.
"Leaving the Nest, Taking Flight" is about accessing the entire park, taking in the ecology, learning about animals and plants which are native to the Calumet, and, yes, buiding out the features in the 40-acre bike park.
This Friday, November 23rd, Friends of Big Marsh will be hosting a trailbuilding volunteer day beginning at 8am in the South End of Big Marsh Park.
Organization Poised to Support the Next Phase of Big Marsh Development
Friends of Big Marsh is pleased to announce that Paul Fitzgerald has been named the organization’s first Executive Director. Paul brings organizational management expertise, a strong commitment to the South Side community and experience with bicycles as a tool of empowerment and sustainability.
Board member, Jamal Julien, describes Paul as having a “desire to get his hands dirty and be the change he seeks in the community” New executive leaderships will launch Friends of Big Marsh into the next phase of the park’s rapid development. The park and the first phase of the bike park opened in 2016 and additional mountain bike trails are under construction. The Ford Environmental Center will break ground this fall. Friends of Big Marsh is now poised to generate public support and donations to help the Chicago Park District build the “Big Hill” and other bike park, environmental, and recreation improvements. This commitment and investment will build Big Marsh into a treasured regional and community destination for eco-recreation, uniting both ecology and recreation.. Julien adds “I know not only will the children and families have fun, they will gain life skills, community values and culture”.
Paul describes his new responsibilities as “a dream come true.” He grew up in the Ashburn neighborhood delivering the South West News Herald by bicycle. After being a bicycle messenger and teaching bicycle mechanics to youth in North Lawndale and Humboldt Park with West Town Bikes, Paul began his time at Working Bikes. There Paul co-founded a sliding scale service department and became General Manager. Since 2012, Paul has served Working Bikes mission to make donated bicycles accessible as tools of empowerment, Paul holds a bachelor’s degree from UIC and was a 2017 Fellow of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy.
Paul Fitzgerald can be contacted at Paul@bigmarsh.org.
Please be aware that due to construction at the entrance to the Bike Park, the trails at Big Marsh will be closed beginning on Wednesday April 11. The trails are schedule to be re-opened by Friday April 20. Please check back here for updated information
If you need additional info or have any questions please contact Chental Handy, Project Coordinater.