“I’m still getting used to the cold,” says Noah Frazier, 25, a masonry restoration worker who spent most of his life in India and Singapore. Despite loving the outdoors, the Bridgeport resident—who moved from Berlin five years ago—does his best to avoid feeling chilly. “My German grandfather had this saying, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just pointless clothing,'” he says, first in German, then in English. “Even though it’s like 50 degrees today, I put on my thermals and my big coat because I figure you can always shed a layer.” Frazier didn’t spend much money on his outfit, but he decided to splurge on his Timberland boots: “Each of them has one kilogram of insulation, and a safety toe.” Frazier’s coat was thrifted and his overalls and alpaca mittens were given by friends. His face mask was gifted by Jenny Stadler, one of the owners of Wolfbait boutique in Logan Square. “I’ve tried a bunch of face masks and this is by far the most comfortable,” he says. “It fits so snug around my face. You can just drop it if you wanna sip your tea or beer, and then put it back up, no problem. The ones that go around the ear dangle around and fall off.”

Practicality is key in Frazier’s wardrobe, because he spends most of his free time volunteering in community gardens, urban farms, and other nature stewardship projects. Amongst them he cites El Jardin de las Mariposas in Pilsen, Bridgeport Victory Gardens and Plowshares in Bridgeport, Chicago Patchwork Farms, City Farm, Chicago Honey Co-op, and TreeKeepers—a tree planting program provided by Openlands. The day he was photographed, Frazier was planting garlic at El Paseo Community Garden in Pilsen, mulching with the discarded straw he picked up from restaurants and storefronts. He’s been volunteering there for about four years—doing building and repairing projects, beekeeping, and growing plants. “I like improvising and problem-solving, seeing things grow, and using my hands,” he says. “I can’t imagine spending my free time doing anything else.”  v

More info about El Paseo Community Garden and its expansion at elpaseogarden.org.