Inside, Out & About ¿Hablas Español?

Friends of the Chicago River launched Inside, Out & About this year to take our members and friends on a journey along the Chicago River system and highlight the wonderful places and people who make our river and community special. Online programs include an in-depth look at each site, their history, health, wildlife, family activities, community connections, and wellness.

To ensure that the programming reaches a broad audience all online programs are available in Spanish and English.

“One of our goals for Inside, Out & About is to deepen our relationship with nature and increase awareness of our natural areas,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends’ executive director. “Over the last 16 months there was a surge of people outside along the river north and south, and because there are so many Spanish speaking members of our community, we knew we needed to provide information and engaging programs in Spanish in order to make the experiences open to more people throughout the Chicago River watershed.”

A total of two-fifths of the people who live in Cook and Lake counties are Latinx as are over 46 percent of Chicago Public School (CPS) students. Three-quarters of Friends’ successful experiential Chicago River Schools Network are CPS students. 

Working to increase access

By promoting the use of natural areas, Inside, Out & About encourages stewardship, and helps people understand that being outside in nature is good for physical and emotional health. Studies show that as little as 120 minutes a week in nature can improve physical health and mental wellbeing. Friends is working to increase access to the river and natural areas all along the river, including through the launch of the Chicago-Calumet River Watershed Council. The Council is a coalition of government and nonprofit partners working across traditional boundaries to develop policies and implement projects that increase the use of nature based solutions to manage stormwater, create habitat, combat climate change, and more.

In August, Inside, Out & About will feature Wampum Lake near south suburban Thornton. The beautiful 412-acre site includes the Wampum Lake Nature Preserve, a mosaic of sand seep, freshwater marsh, dry-mesic upland forest, wet floodplain forest and eroding bluff community located along Thorn Creek. Since 2015, Friends has been working with the Forest Preserves of Cook County on turtle nesting habitat restoration projects at Wampum Lake as well as at Watersmeet Woods in Winnetka, Chipilly Woods in Northbrook, Skokie Lagoons in Glencoe, and Sag Quarries in Lemont. At Wampum and Chilpilly tracking studies of the turtles revealed that they moved to the restored areas the first season they were cleared of invasive species; at Wampum Lake these species were primarily honeysuckle. 

Upcoming podcast spotlights Wampum Lake 

Inside, Out & About’s companion podcast is hosted by Friends’ Executive Director Margaret Frisbie. Episodes include interviews with wildlife scientists, environmental journalists, and Chicago history experts. Previous Inside, Out & About episodes also feature significant sites of the Calumet region including Kickapoo Woods, Beaubien Woods, and Big Marsh Park. Other episodes include LaBagh Woods on the Chicago’s Northwest Side, the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, and Bubbly Creek on the South Branch.