Dear friends of the parks,


2019 has been quite the year, and now we’re on the cusp of 2020—Friends of the Parks’ 45th anniversary year. Without a doubt, it’s members and friends like you that have gotten us through this year and every year.

In anticipation of next year’s anniversary commemorations, we’re scouring our files and photos and finding reminders of friends of the parks like you. And we’re compiling some inspirational looks back at our collective history of caring for Chicago’s parks and open spaces.

But, for now, here’s a quick look back at this past year.

A new mayoral administration has made it an exciting year—one full of hope for a new way of doing business regarding Chicago’s parks.

  • Our State of the Parks report released during the mayoral campaign found some resonance with Lori Lightfoot who has talked regularly about park equity and good governance.
  • As the new mayor took office in May, we made sure that our Platform for Parks was in her hands.
  • It has been a breath of fresh air to have an open door to be in conversation with the City’s policy team and new Chief Engagement Office and Chief Equity Officer about multiple park issues.
  • We are overjoyed that our former staffer and lead investigator and author of our State of the Parks report, Daniel La Spata, won his election as 1st Ward Alderman and is already staking out his claim as a leading voice for parks in City Council!

But the jury is still out as to how Mayor Lightfoot will live into her own core themes—diversity and inclusion; equity; accountability; transparency, and; transformation—let alone whether she and her administration understand parks to be central to the health of Chicago in so many ways.

So the time is now to get on her agenda and make sure that the right tone is set regarding the importance of Chicago’s parks!

And that’s where you come in. We are calling for proper planning for public parks, and our voice is made louder with your support and the strength of a growing membership base!

In the coming days and weeks, we will be seeking an audience with Mayor Lightfoot’s newly-installed Commissioner of Planning and Development Maurice Cox, who we hope will usher in real leadership around comprehensive planning in Chicago—for a change—and will include parks as key elements of healthy communities. We’ll continue to send the message to this administration that we’re happy to support good governance, but if things go awry, we’re always ready to stay true to our roots and our fundamental role over the decades: that of a watch dog.

Want to know more about what we’ll be talking to him about? See the Platform for Parks which provides a framework—articulated in accordance with Mayor Lightfoot’s core themes—for the familiar concerns we are all keeping an eye on together:

  • Leveraging the attention to lakefront erosion to finally get action on our Last Four Miles vision to complete the lakefront park and path system, starting with finally capping the pollution dump adjacent to Calumet Park and at the confluence of the Calumet River and Lake Michigan.
  • Fighting for climate change-sensitive and park positive outcomes for Jackson Park and the South Shore Cultural Center and surrounding communities in light of the Obama Presidential Center usurping precious lakeshore adjacent parkland and cutting down mature trees.
  • Leading the charge for stronger park protection measures in the face of this and other threatened encroachments to public park land, from cell towers to concert venues and more!
  • In the face of mega-developments like Lincoln Yards and The 78, challenging the notion that privately-owned public spaces satisfy the demand for adequate public park space per capita!

All of this is possible because of you—our members and friends. Park advisory council members and other park partners. Organizers and advocates. Stewards and every day park users benefiting from and keeping an eye on our parks.

We’ve done it before—for nearly 45 years! Let’s do it again!

Whether your entry point to concern for Chicago’s parks is pursuing personal physical or mental health benefits; building healthy communities; promoting recreational opportunities for youth; or ensuring endangered piping plovers successfully breed—we are confident that you are eager to step up to the challenge with us into 2020 and beyond.

Yours in partnership,

Juanita Irizarry
Executive Director

P.S. See the sheet with membership information (link here) including membership level perks.

P.P.S. As an environmental conservation organization, Friends of the Parks desires to save trees.  Therefore, our membership communication will take place by email, unless otherwise indicated.

2020 Membership Renewal:

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