Learn How to Use the Innovative Natural Solutions Tool

Friends' Natural Solutions Tool in action.

The innovative Natural Solutions Tool, realized through Friends’ Greater Chicago Watershed Alliance initiative, continues to provide users the ability to explore overlapping environmental and community impacts affecting Chicago area watersheds.

Advanced Training July 24 - Register 

Basics Training August 16 - Register

In the four months since the web-tool launched in March 2023, nearly 400 community members, urban planners, policymakers, government officials, researchers, students, and professionals have participated in interactive training sessions and workshops to learn how to apply the Natural Solutions Tool to green infrastructure project development, decision making, and advocacy efforts. Friends of the Chicago River is proud of our robust roll-out of this unique and innovative data visualization tool, one that provides a new perspective to understanding the relationship between multiple ecological, social, and climate resiliency challenges—and our goal of solving them.

Amy Heldman, Planning and GIS Specialist at Friends, leads weekly training sessions for the Natural Solutions Tool, guiding new users through the basics of the interactive GIS, or geographic information system, web tool. For more advanced users, Heldman and partners at the Trust for Public Land tailor demonstrations utilizing workshop participants’ real world project sites and locations. Leading with the on-the-ground interests of our participants, Heldman allows Friends to customize trainings to the needs and interests of participants. “Each training provides an opportunity to connect with diverse people from all across the region,” explains Heldman “and to explore with them how the tool can shed light on local environmental and social challenges, while revealing opportunities to address these challenges through green infrastructure strategies.” The Natural Solutions Tool is designed to be used by anyone, without the need of specialized GIS training.

Virtual introductory training is scheduled for Wednesday, August 16 from 10-11 a.m., with more dates on the horizon. Those interested in a more advanced training should mark their calendars for Monday, July 24 from 2-3 p.m. If you would like to schedule a training workshop for your organization, class, or community, please contact naturalsolutionstool@chicagoriver.org to join the hundreds already trained in utilizing this exciting new watershed data visualization resource.