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.
The Ford Calumet Environmental Center (renderings above) will serve as a home and base of operations for park activities. Construction is scheduled to begin in the coming months.
The proposed map for the Nature Play space, puts it just West of the Ford Center. This space will promote educated risk, and imaginative play for children visiting the park.
"What about the bike features?" Logan Beyhl, former trail-builder for Friends of Big Marsh has joined the Chicago Park District to continue developing features for both the beginning and expert cyclist. This Summer's goals include building out the "Back 9" just west of the BMX jump lines, as well as connecting the trails adjacent to the "East Loop". These trails will include use of shipping containers and reclaimed wood to create more gravity features. Design will begin on the "Big Hill" and will include public discussion and comment. It is the goal of FoBM, that the grading, capping, and seeding of the Big Hill could be done this Summer to allow the removal of the construction fence in time for Cyclocross season.
All of this is made possible by our generous donors! Friends of Big Marsh would like to thank all of our party guests, as well as our event sponsors. REI and Asphalt Operating Services were Platinum Sponsors. First Choice Logistics and CLIF Bar joined us as Gold Sponsors. Working Bikes was a Silver Sponsor, and Friends of Sue Sadlowski Garza for 10th Ward Alderwoman joined us at the Bronze level.
Our silent auction was made possible by donations from Pedal to the People, Roscoe Village Bikes, Rudy's Bike Shop, Bike Fix Inc, and WBEZ.
These donations, as well as all other money raised at the party will be matched by a generous, anonymous philanthropist that runs a young foundation focused on increasing access to nature for urban populations. This challenge grant is running all year, up to $500,000! Thanks to the great staff at Lagunitas and our guests and supporters, Friends of Big Marsh has a running start! We look forward to hosting more events, including several in the communities neighboring Big Marsh to further plan, dream, and fundraise.
Please consider donating, if you haven't already, and follow Friends of Big Marsh on social media and our email list to stay up-to-date on park developments and programming!