Our Gratitude Abounds

As Thanksgiving draws near, we reflect on this special day as a time for togetherness, sharing a meal, and giving thanks. Some of us gather with family; some of us gather with friends. Thanksgiving is open to everyone. At Friends of the Chicago River we embrace the idea of Friendsgiving; after all, “Friends” is right there in our name. And this year, we are imagining what a Friendsgiving celebration of our own might look like.

To start with we would need a table big enough to accommodate the multitude of members, foundations, companies, and sponsors who generously make our work possible with their financial commitment and partnership. 

We would require room for our program partners ranging from teachers to community advocates to public agencies; we would need even more space for the thousands of dedicated volunteers who spent this past year picking up trash from the water and river-adjacent lands, removing invasive species from forest preserves, leading paddling trips, serving on the board and committees, and making events such as the Summer Float Party a success.

We would also need to find space for the people who take personal actions big and small in support of our local ecology. Anyone who writes a letter to an elected official in support of environmental protections, or limits water use during a rainstorm to prevent a combined sewer overflow, is a friend of the Chicago and Calumet rivers.

And last but certainly not least, we would need to be able to accommodate the nearly 80 species of fish and countless birds, animals, and other wildlife who are thriving due to the improved health of the river. Fortunately, the river and its adjacent lands provide plenty of food and habitat so we do not need to cook extra dishes or find extra chairs.

A banquet hall large enough to encompass all 156 miles of the river and its watershed, and the people and wildlife within it, can only exist in our imaginations. But our gratitude is real.

On Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, and every other day of the year, we are thankful for you.