By Eva Baldinger
The three months I spent interning with Plant Chicago were filled with numerous and diverse learning opportunities. As an education and outreach intern, I helped create and implement new workshops focused on closed-loop systems. This process taught me a lot about cultivating teaching content that is flexible and accessible to a variety of skill levels and age groups.
In addition to creating workshops, I assisted with group tours, at community forums, and with events put on by Plant Chicago (i.e. the monthly farmers market). These experiences introduced me to a number of tenants residing within The Plant, all of whom opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist within the field of “ethically-focused” food and beverage production. Most importantly, my internship exposed me to the vibrant and colorful Back of Yards neighborhood in which The Plant resides.
At multiple points throughout my three months with Plant Chicago, I was reminded of the importance of environmental education. The Plant is representative of a sustainable ideology brought to life, proof that real world applications are within reach. I witnessed a community that may have otherwise lacked exposure to the concept of closed-loop infrastructures experience it in their own backyard. Not only were community members impressed, they wanted to get and stay involved. At forums and on tours, individuals never hesitated to share ideas about how Plant Chicago could become a more active member in the community at large.
While The Plant is a unique and groundbreaking entity here in Chicago, it provides a blueprint for projects of the same nature and integrity, proof that these forward-thinking sustainable systems can be a reality in the near future. I am forever grateful to the team hard at work with Plant Chicago, and cannot wait to return as a volunteer. I owe a very special thank you to my leader/teacher/enviro warrior Kassie, whose passion, vivacious personality, and extensive knowledge about closed loop infrastructures continues to motivate and inspire me.