Osterman Beach Stewardship Days

A volunteer participates in Osterman Beach Stewardship Days, planting native species along the coast of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois - Event Photography by Michael Courier
A volunteer participates in Osterman Beach Stewardship Days, planting native species along the coast of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois.

It may seem like a trivial issue, but native plants play an important and pivotal role within local ecosystems. They provide food and habitat for other native species, and they protect the health of the environment.

Renee Patten has been leading Osterman Beach Stewardship Days, in a joint effort with the Chicago Park District and the Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project. Last spring, I joined her and 50 other volunteers as they planted 1,500 native species.

June Grass, for example, is well adapted for sandy soil. Its root system helps mitigate soil erosion and protects the health of Lake Michigan’s coastline.

Starting April 26th, there will be more stewardship days at Osterman Beach throughout the year. You’re welcome to join Renee or some of the many stewardship days across the city. You’ll be able to learn about native plants while protecting our ecosystem!

A volunteer participates in Osterman Beach Stewardship Days, planting native species along the coast of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Renee Patten works with local volunteers - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Renee Patten, center, works with local volunteers during an Osterman Beach Stewardship Day.
June Grass, before and after it was planted at Osterman Beach - Event Photography by Michael Courier
June Grass, before and after it was planted at Osterman Beach.

Understanding Invasive Species

Invasive species are often introduced to new environments through human interaction. This could be unintentional, through ballast water — or intentional, through the deliberate act of transportation.

When invasive species are introduced to a new region, they often overrun the native inhabitants, due to a lack of competition and disease.

In the Great Lakes Region, we suffer from many invasive species — like zebra mussels and sea lamprey. Non-native plants affect the ecosystem by impacting the food chain, making it harder for native species to find sustenance.

Volunteers participate in Osterman Beach Stewardship Days, planting native species along the coast of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Volunteers participate in Osterman Beach Stewardship Days, planting native species along the coast of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Volunteers plant native species at Osterman Beach in Chicago, Illinois.

Resources for Covid-19

While Covid-19 continues to impact daily life, I’ll continue posting images from previous events — highlighting local organizations, their missions, and the communities they serve.

If you’ve been financially impacted during this trying time, I’ve compiled a list of local and national resources that may be able to help ease your situation. As I discover new resources, I’ll continue to add them to the list.

Volunteers participate in Osterman Beach Stewardship Days, planting native species along the coast of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Cleaning Up the Chicago River

Cleaning up the Chicago River is hard work, but this volunteer is happy to help - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Cleaning up the Chicago River is hard work, something that Friends of the Chicago River have been doing for over 40 years. When the weather is better, Friends hosts regular cleanup events — bringing together like-minded volunteers to help with the effort.

I’ve been documenting Great Lakes Plastic Pollution for a while now, providing information and resources about the environmental impact of plastic on our local ecosystem.

In May of 2019, I reached out to Friends of the Chicago River, who were hosting a cleanup event along the North Branch of the Chicago River (at River Park, near Lincoln Square). I thought donating my photography services would be a great way to learn more about the organization and to help raise more awareness about plastic pollution.

The original plan was to have me photograph from a canoe, but that changed due to the number of people in attendance. With each canoe in use during the event, I organized a plan to document from the riverbank instead.

Thankfully, I had researched the area, and I had a general understanding of the best possible vantage points available to me. Using a telephoto lens, a bridge, and some random gaps in a fence, I was able to run around and photograph the work.

Throughout the year, Friends of the Chicago River hosts a variety of events. For now, many of their spring events are being canceled or postponed due to the current outbreak of Covid-19. When it is safe to gather again, you can expect more opportunities to volunteer with them in the future!

Cleaning up the Chicago River is no easy task, which is why many volunteers are needed - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Cleaning up the Chicago River is no easy task, and many volunteers are needed to help with the effort.

Resources for Covid-19

While Covid-19 continues to impact daily life, I’ll continue posting images from previous events — highlighting local organizations, their missions, and the communities they serve.

If you’ve been financially impacted during this trying time, I’ve compiled a list of local and national resources that may be able to help ease your situation. As I discover new resources, I’ll continue to add them to the list.

To clean up the Chicago River, volunteers have to use a canoe - Event Photography by Michael Courier
An overhead view of volunteers removing litter and debris from the riverbank of the Chicago River - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Litter and debris that was collected along the riverbank of the Chicago River - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Volunteers hold up the litter they collected during the cleanup event - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Staff and volunteer guides for the Friends of the Chicago River pose for a group photo after the cleanup event - Event Photography by Michael Courier
Staff and volunteer guides for Friends of the Chicago River pose for a group photo after the cleanup event.

Sierra Club Beach Cleanup

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

A volunteer catalogs trash they collected during the Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago on September 15th, 2018. The event was part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program, which held similar events at beaches along the Great Lakes.

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Alderman James Cappleman, of the 46th Ward, addresses a group of volunteers during the Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach.

On September 15th, I volunteered my photography services to the Chicago Chapter of the Sierra Club, to help document the cleanup effort and raise more awareness about trash and plastic pollution in our environment. In total, over 200 volunteers came out to help, with an estimated 300 pounds of garbage being removed from Montrose Beach.

Earlier this year I started documenting and picking up trash at Kathy Osterman Beach, which is two blocks from my house. If you haven’t seen or read through that piece yet, you can learn more here. I’ve also revamped my Flickr profile, and I’ve started posting art and trash photography from Osterman Beach and throughout the Edgewater neighborhood — it’s organized to be a more cohesive gallery. And lastly, if you want to see more beach and trash photography, you can follow my personal Instagram account.

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

These are microplastics — small bits of plastic that are hard to see and hard to remove from the environment.

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier

Sierra Club beach cleanup at Montrose Beach in Chicago - Event Photography by Michael Courier