|Total Shots taken||121|
|Number of 5 star ratings (5* yield %)||10 (11.1 %)|
Wow! The Burnham Wildlife Corridor (an environment established within Burnham Park’s 100 acre prairie and woodland ecosystem in Chicago) has now opened Gathering Spaces. The urban park installation is 3+ mile trek (round trip) stretching from 47th St. to 31st St., along the lakefront and Lake Shore Drive. If you have driven down that stretch of Lake Shore Drive, you may have noticed the emergence of wild, native grass areas on the lake front side, and the light deforestation of the train side. Well, those grassy patches have now matured into rolling fields of native Illinois grasses and flowers. The rolling fields now have walking paths that take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and cushion against the noise of cars zipping along Lake Shore Drive.
The Gathering Spaces are in the midst of the rolling fields, each with a walking path that leads to it. There are five in total, and I had a chance to visit four of them. Each structure is built of natural materials, and designed to fit in with the environment, For the grand opening, there was a program at each space, with the artists’ speaking about their respective creation.
- Sounding Bronzeville (featured image) – This gathering space features curved seating spaces made from small limbs and branches from trees and shrubbery. They are anchored into the ground, and woven strongly enough to hold several people. I liked this image showing the space being used the way it is meant to be used, by people talking chatting, and enjoying the cool shady location.
- La Ronda Parakata – This open gazebo like structure is set atop a hill overlooking Lake Michigan. I spoke with the artist about the it, who described some of the features — the central motif, while similar to the yin-yang motif symbolizing unity, was instead, a native American symbol for communication, symbolizing people talking to each other. It was oriented to symbolize communication between persons north and south, along Chicago’s historical divide. The structure itself resembles stylized butterflies, made of dried grasses and reeds, and loosely translated, it is the butterfly surround. Because of its peaceful location by the lake, it was my favorite spot.
- View From the Top (2) – I sat on the tree stump in the center of the woven butterfly structure. It’s peaceful here – birds singing, intrusive sounds muffled by nearby shrubbery, the lake glowing blue in the bright sunlight, soft breeze stirring in the air – combined with the view of lake Michigan and the nearby shoreline… What’s NOT to love?
- Sankofa for the Earth – This is the first one, nearest to 47th St. Unlike on my last visit, when this gathering space was still under construction, the area is cleaned up and ready. In this image you can see the fullness of the gathering space, seats created from curved concrete benches and tree trunk segments, and the open space, which could be used for performances. (For other views of this gathering space, see my previous post Urban Trail and Gathering Space – 5* Pix)
- Field of Flowers – The gathering space for Sankofa for the earth is nestled in a field of flowers. I loved the purple cone flowers showing up in great contrast to the surrounding greenery.
- From the Walking Path #1 – For this image, I am on the walking trail, heading to one of the gathering spaces. I looked up to see a small group heading along the waterfront path. I was close enough to the group to hear them speak to each other, albeit not clearly. I loved the waves of flowers and grasses in the foreground of this image.
- From the Walking Path #2 – When I turned the other way, I could see the upcoming gathering space, La Ronda Parakata. I loved seeing the city’s skyline as a backdrop to this open air structure.
- Porcupine Grass – As the wind blew these long stemmed porcupine grasses, they seemed to flow together like water, curving in the day’s breeze.
Last week, I wrote on the emergence of this new urban space. Little did I know that I saw only the tip of the iceberg – there was so much more to this natural landscaping of the wildlife corridor than what I knew at the time. As it is, I have only profiled four of the five Gathering Spaces, and I still have one more to find and photograph. There is certainly more to explore in the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. I hope you enjoy this glimpse of the gathering spaces provided by these 5* selections!
 This environment is a product of “Roots and Routes” a collaborative project aimed at creating and sustaining the Burnham Wildlife Corridor in order to maximize benefits for neighboring communities and nature.