Rethinking Lawns

Exploring Lawn Alternatives for Biodiversity Support, Climate Change Resilience, and infrastructure improvement

The Plots

Chicago Botanic Garden

1000 Lake Cook Rd
Glencoe, IL 60022
Chicago Botanic Garden Website

Marquette Park

6743 S. Kedzie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60629
Park District Website

Located in Niswi-mishkodewinan (Potawatomi, Odawa, Ojibwe) treaty land, there is some irony that this park is named for the first prominent European to arrive in the area, Catholic missionary Pere Jacques Marquette (1637-1675). Marquette Park was designed by the Olmsted Brothers in 1903 as a part of fourteen new Chicago parks meant to bring beautiful and useful outdoor spaces to working class Chicagoans. Following the family line of naturalistic parks (you might know Central Park and Jackson Park, here in town!), Marquette has a lagoon for fishing and wildlife, trees, playgrounds, golfing, community gardening, and more. As a community site, Marquette has been a central space for the fight for racial justice, housing rights, and resisting white supremacy. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. led a march for housing justice through Marquette when the park was unofficially whites-only in 1966, sparking a half-century of protests and white supremacist counter-protests.

Now Marquette is a community space, including a community garden, rose garden, prairie, and 500 newly planted trees. Outside, the park offers four multi-purpose fields, an artificial turf field, 9 hole golf course, lagoon, driving range, basketball and tennis courts, two playgrounds, baseball fields, and spray pool.

Our test plots are located next to the Ashburn Prairie, a remnant prairie rescued from destruction from nearby Ashburn. In 1993, community members and Chicago Park Service worked together to save the two-acre prairie, digging up giant chunks of earth in the dead of winter and transplanting them to Marquette Park’s island. Our plots will be joined by shortgrass prairie restoration, working together to help make sure Ashburn Prairie thrives for future generations to meet our native landscape.

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