Field & Street | Letters | Chicago Reader

Field & Street 

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Dear editors,

After Jerry Sullivan's departure from the Field & Street, I looked forward to whom the Reader would choose to write the column. By the third post-Jerry article, I realized the Reader was testing future prospects on us, your readership. Pete Leki writing March 11's issue woke me from a long bus commute with his sardonic wink at civic planning. Watersheds are what make Chicago's landscape, and this area has a history that evolved around these bodies of water continuing to this day. With an eye for the absurd, Mr. Leki condemns our European models of urban planning as out of control excretory behavior superimposed on native systems. Most people in Chicagoland or anywhere U.S.A. for that matter have no idea what the natural history of their respective environs is, so greatly changed has this landscape become. Columns such as Field & Street are necessary reminders of our link to the land, how that land used to exist, how we changed it and what's needed to heal the ills created. Jill Riddell, the first post-Jerry columnist, January 14, wrote a no-nonsense account of Norwood Builders' greedy plans to build on open land best left to the North Branch's floodplain. Her straightforward concern for a damaged ecosystem is journalism I hope the Reader would at least settle for. Mr. Leki's thinly veiled disgust of out-of-control overdevelopment burdening our environment is what I hope the Reader would choose. I lived in Northbrook 34 years watching all available land assigned a price that just leaving it in its native state would be unconscionable to Old World sensibilities. As I helped survey birds in Somme Woods, I learned from Jerry Sullivan a history never taught in my schools. Jerry's articles not only rallied my anger at bureaucratic shortsightedness regarding wise use, but encouraged me to consider what could possibly be choosing our actions wisely. My personal taste anticipates Field & Street providing that sense of local history that starts with the land and, unfortunately, usually ends with the land's very abuse. That side of Chicago, the U.S.A., all of human history needs to be told, and in March 11's column on thoughtless human land use, Pete Leki spoke in my favorite voice, with a sneer.

Bill Valentine

Northbrook

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