“Green Chicago teaches people how to make gardens on rubble-filled vacant lots,” according to the Chicago Horticultural Society’s Garden Talk (July 1988). “Since the program began in 1982, Green Chicago coordinator Becky Severson has directly helped 19 groups start their own community gardens.” The groups are chosen “on the basis of need and ability.” GC provides topsoil, compost, fencing, and tools; the gardeners provide the labor, sometimes breaking the soil with pickaxes. Thus the CHS’s Botanic Garden reaches out from its Glencoe location to such city neighborhoods as Pilsen, Rogers Park, Ravenswood, Lawndale, and South Shore.

Instant New Age. Now being hyped by the channel-and-crystal crowd: a book entitled The Three Minute Meditator.

Would the machine still be running? If the law in 1974 had been interpreted as it is today, former Chicago alderman and Daley second-in-command Thomas E. Keane would not have been convicted of mail fraud and been stripped of office. (Courts have since held that the mail-fraud statute protects only property rights, not citizens’ rights to good government; Keane’s original conviction, however, will stand.) Rob Warden speculates in Chicago Lawyer (July 1988), “If Keane had not been convicted of mail fraud–if the conviction that should not have been had never been–he undoubtedly would have become mayor fourteen months later when Richard. J. Daley died. Michael A. Bilandic would never even have been Finance Committee chairman. That much seems sure. Beyond that, who knows? Would Jane M. Byrne have beaten Mayor Keane, or would she have tried? Would Richard M. Daley have run against Keane? Would Harold Washington simply have remained an obscure South Side congressman? Would Keane, robust in his 80’s, still be mayor today?”

At least it’s not Big Brother. The headline “DAD OFFERS HOT WEATHER TIPS FOR SENIORS” refers not to a male parent but to the city Department on Aging & Disability.

Civil disobedience for churchgoers. The Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ (representing 328 churches and based in suburban Westchester) has refused to comply with the employer-sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, because it forces illegal aliens who cannot return home “deeper into the shadows of our state’s economy.” In a July 8 letter to the Chicago office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, conference minister W. Sterling Cary adds, “Conservative members of the United Church of Christ support this declaration because the Bible [Leviticus 19:33] literally tells us that ‘. . . if a stranger sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do that person wrong.'”

There’s not enough money in the state budget for schools and mental health, but the governor’s task force on the film industry in Illinois recommends that filmmakers be routinely given “free use of all city and State publicly funded facilities.”

“‘You’re going to talk to that man,’ one father of the bride said to Father Robert Oldershaw, then an associate pastor at St. Clement’s [on the north side].” He’d just caught sight of Jim, the church’s resident homeless person, seated on a back pew during the wedding, surrounded, as always, by grubby bags. Father Oldershaw was obliging. “‘Of course I will,’ said Oldershaw. ‘Good morning, Jim. How are you?'” Tim Unsworth tells this and other stories of the parish’s encounters with Jim in Salt (June 1988). Adds Saint Clement’s Father John Fahey, “There’s a lot of wedding albums that have pictures with the upper right-hand comers cut out.”

No more parking lots downtown! That’s the battle cry of Friends of Downtown, as presented to a Chicago Plan Commission committee last month. Parking garages are OK, they say. But if the city continues to allow more surface parking lots, it may encourage the demolition of smaller buildings that enliven the Loop. “The cities with the fewest surface parking lots, such as San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Seattle and Boston are among the most vibrant and successful downtowns in the country. Cities with vast expanses of surface parking, which could include Chicago soon [without such a ban] . . . are among the least attractive, vibrant, and successful. Examples include Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Detroit.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.