Water, Sustainability, and the City

Most of us think that since we live by some of the world’s largest bodies of fresh water, The Great Lakes, there must be no way we’re running out of it in the United States. Contrary to that belief, the Western region’s water resources have been on the verge of depletion for the past decade or so, and are continuing to disappear at a startling rate. And soon, it won’t just be that region’s fresh water that is in trouble.

Last week on Tuesday, September 29, Roosevelt University’s Sustainability Studies Program and Physical Resources Department hosted a lecture by RU alumnus Damon Williams. Graduating from RU with his BS degree in Physics, Mr. Williams is an experienced and successful civil engineer with a focus on water and wastewater management. He is also on the management team at DSW Water Strategies located in Arizona.

As we all know, California is suffering from a massive drought that is damaging agriculture, draining watersheds, and limiting human usage. Starting with some background information on climate change and its effects, Williams’ lecture primarily focused on the Western region of the United States and how it’s being negatively impacted due to water scarcity and overuse.

Damon Williams during his presentation on 9/29/15.

Damon Williams during his presentation on 9/29/15.

Damon brought home the fact that it takes us all to make changes—not just engineers, or policy makers, or scientists, or activists—we all have to swing the bat, especially in instances where politics interfere with making needed changes. There are also a lot of job opportunities and directions that students can go in if interested in this topic—there is a need for climate scientists, hydrologists, engineers, research scientists, and so much more. Williams ended the presentation with a “Water-Energy-Food Nexus”. These are things we need, and in varying quantities. How do we find a balance between our needs? How do we get what we need to survive (and maybe even thrive) without destroying everything in our path?

Turnout was great at the event- 39 attendees! We thank Mr. William’s for his great presentation and discussion!

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Bike2Campus Week is Back, and Now in the Fall!

October 9-16, 2015, marks the third round of Bike2Campus week! Eleven Chicagoland colleges and universities, along with Roosevelt, will be partaking in this weeklong event. Previously in the spring, Bike2Campus week has now been moved to fall in hopes of better riding weather for all those passionate bike riders. Just as the last two Bike2Campus weeks, there will be a way to track your rides and get entered to win a prize! Better yet, you can even help our campus earn “Top Cycle Campus”!

Mike Bryson is the Director of Sustainability Studies at RU and was a  Bike2Campus winner this past spring

Mike Bryson is the Director of Sustainability Studies at RU and was a Bike2Campus winner this past spring

Here’s what to do (daily):

  • After riding your bike to, from, or off campus, go to bike2campus.com
  • Select Roosevelt University
  • Provide your email address
  • Record how many times you rode for that day

There’s three ways you can win a prize:

  • Record your rides at bike2campus.com
  • Pass the Illinois Bike Safety Quiz and prove it
  • Photo share your bike trip on Instagram using hashtag: #chibike2campus

Visit bike2campus.com for more details, and/or email Rebecca Quesnell, RU’s Sustainable Operations Coordinator, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu with any questions.

Ride on RU!

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RU Rooftop Garden Harvest


A group of our volunteers contributing to our largest harvest of Summer 2015.

I am pleased to announce that the Roosevelt University Rooftop Garden has surpassed last year in terms of production! We have harvested approximately 34 pounds of produce, which is a pound more than what was collected in 2014. Not only that, but the garden is still continuing to produce small amounts as we head from summer into fall with cooler weather on the way.

Time and pests were not in our favor this past summer, but we worked diligently to keep the garden in shape and producing. The garden is typically managed by an Environmental Sustainability Student Associate with the Physical Resources Department, and it is just one project of many. With that in mind, we owe a lot to our volunteers who have been able to contribute time to the garden in many different ways including, but not limited, to the following: starting seeds inside during the winter, watering, transplanting, pulling weeds, harvesting, and more.

While the garden may stop producing for part of the year, in our case, we still plan for it year round and welcome folks from the RU community to get involved. You can be involved with the design of the garden, profiling plants, deciding on what should be planted together based on companion planting, you can take a tour, volunteer directly outside, or help get plants started indoors in the late winter. There are various ways that folks can get involved, and we encourage every bit of it! We are very excited about what this next year will bring.


We harvested 21.6 pounds of lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, carrots, onions, leeks, arugula, and nasturtium– all used in the Wabash Dining Center!

For questions on how you can get involved, volunteer, or do a class tour of the garden, please contact Rebecca Quesnell, Sustainable Operations Coordinator, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu.

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Planters in Front of RU’S Auditorium Building

Layout of planters

Last week on Friday, August 14, two different species of plants were transplanted into the planters in front of Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Building on Michigan Avenue. The planters were empty just weeks ago, until the City of Chicago planted a tree in each planter. In early Spring the trees were temporarily removed for the NFL draft in which Roosevelt was involved with. Left barren for a while, the planters now have some RU color (green and white) and will continue to fill in.

Heuchera richardsonii, also known as Prairie Alumroot, was planted around the trees. This green, leafy plant is tolerant to dry soil. Additionally, it attracts numerous wildlife including butterflies, and other pollinators and wildlife. On day one of being planted, a butterfly landed on one of the leaves– I was caught off guard, but very excited to see such a memorizing sight!

Artemisia schmidtiana “Nana”, or Silver Mound Artemisia, is planted in the corners of the planters. While taking some time to adjust to the downtown environment, these plants are also doing fairly well and are tolerant of drier soil as too.

We hope for these plants to blossom into full effect in the planters, and help show our school pride!

Butterfly on Heuchera richardsonii

Butterfly on Heuchera richardsonii

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The Rooftop Garden’s Summer, Thus Far

IMG_0056 (1)The Roosevelt Wabash Rooftop Garden is still in swing as August begins, with another outdoor garden workday scheduled for tomorrow—Tuesday, August 3rd, from 9am-12pm. We are planning to harvest, water the garden, and make some repairs to the leaning trellis, as well as do some light weeding if time allows.

For the Spring/Summer of 2015 to date, we have harvested approximately 11 pounds of the following: collard greens, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, nasturtium, carrots, broccoli sprouts, radish sprouts, mint, thyme, basil, oregano, dill, cilantro, and rosemary!

This year has especially had its obstacles, with many unidentified pests making homes on the rooftop and grabbing their lunch in the garden plots, to days and days without rain, and to keeping up with production so the plants would not over grow and be past harvesting.

With the help of a handful of dedicated volunteers, we were able to take this summer (thus far) with a grain of salt and start thinking about how to do things differently in the coming years and growing seasons. Yes, seasons! Eventually, we would like to extend the time that the garden can produce—possibly by starting planting now for a late Fall 2015 harvest of some select vegetables.

We are always looking for ideas, comments, questions, and especially for volunteers!

If you would ever like to learn more, volunteer, take a tour, or implement the garden into your class, please feel free to contact Rebecca Quesnell at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu.

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Article in ChicagoInno Showcases Roosevelt University’s Sustainability Efforts

At Roosevelt University we are extremely proud of our sustainability efforts.  This past Monday, Karis Hustad, staff writer at ChicagoInno, was able to join us at our downtown campus for a tour.  Paul Matthews, Assistant Vice President of Operations, and Rebecca Quesnell, Sustainability Operations Manager showed Hustad the campus and our sustainability efforts.   Thanks to Laura Janota, Director of Public Relations here at Roosevelt University, for securing the reporter.  Check out the article here:  http://chicagoinno.streetwise.co/2015/07/20/urban-farming-roosevelt-university-utilizes-vertical-space/

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6/10 of a Mile Nature Walk

Native Prairie at the Schaumburg Campus

Native Prairie at the Schaumburg Campus

Roosevelt University’s Schuamburg campus’ nature walk is in full bloom.  Take a walk through the native prairie, and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna.  A path has been carved out just for you!  Biodiversity is impressive, and the view is stunning.  If you are focused, you can see some remarkable wildlife – from American Goldfinches, cottontails, and damselflies and dragonflies, to the American Toad.  Bees are buzzing around too, enjoying the many flower species available to them.  The trek is 6/10 of a mile, and will give you a glimpse of the RurbanPioneers Community Garden.  We’d love to hear what you discover!

Bluet in the RUrbanPioneers Community Garden

Bluet in the RUrbanPioneers Community Garden

For more information, contact Sarah Tag, Environmental Sustainability Student Associate (sfisher@roosevelt.edu).

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  • Electronic Waste Recycling During November! wp.me/p36w4k-8c via @RUgreencampus 3 weeks ago
  • October Rooftop Garden biodiversity! A deceased monarch, small carrot, very small cucumber, and giant grasshopper. https://t.co/VkqAW0ALDx 1 month ago
  • It's Bike2Campus week, October 9-16! Ride to school or around town, record on B2C website, and get rewarded! Bike2Campus.com 1 month ago
  • Happy Campus Sustainability Month! Come celebrate by participating in one last Wabash rooftop garden harvest- Friday, October 16 from 12-2pm 1 month ago
  • Outdoor Rooftop Garden Harvest Day, tomorrow, 9:30-12pm, 5th floor of WB Building, through the workout facility-- stop on by, all welcome!!! 2 months ago
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