Chris DevinsChris Devins is an artist/urban planner who creates outdoor art exhibits designed to attract tourists and increase community pride. One of his many projects is the Bronzeville Legends Initiative, which is designed to transform the community with a public art installation that reaffirms its identity. Recently, Devins has been working to create a large outdoor mural of First Lady Michelle Obama that will be installed at Chicago’s Bouchet School, a South Side school the first lady attended as a child.

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Did you know? Illinois is home to the only river in the world that flows backwards.

The Chicago River, known mainly for the different colors it is dyed to celebrate different events and holidays, has been a hallmark of Chicago since the earliest days of the city. The first European to permanently settle in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, built his farm on the north shore of the river’s mouth. Fort Dearborn, the first American settlement, was built right across the river at the south shore of the mouth.

Most people don’t know that the river flows backwards.

To combat the pollution of the river caused by the growing industrial city, the Sanitary District of Chicago made efforts to reverse the flow of the river. The greatest of these efforts began in 1900.

Building a system of locks and canals, the District reversed the flow from Lake Michigan, diverting the water into the newly constructed Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

In 1999, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Chicago River flow reversal the “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium”.

Today, the Chicago River system includes the North and South Branches along with the Main Stem of the Chicago River. Additionally, the North Shore Channel, the Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Calumet Sag Channel make up 52 miles of the river’s constructed waterways.

If you are interested in learning more about what the Chicago River has to offer, you can visit the website of Friends of the Chicago River.

Weldon Springs State Park

The winter weather is no reason to stay inside when there’s an abundance of activities at Weldon Springs State Park and Clinton Lake State Recreation Area. From cross country skiing to ice fishing, hiking and ice skating, these sites offer fun activities for all.

Located southeast of Clinton in DeWitt County, Weldon Springs State Park and Clinton Lake State Recreation Area are a 15 minute drive from each other. 

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headshotcrop smNina Weiss is an artist based in Chicago who has been painting and drawing landscapes for over 30 years. She spent 18 of those also teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and other various appointments.

Coming to the Midwest after growing up on the East Coast, Weiss was enthralled by the wide open fields and drawn to depict this new and exotic landscape. She seeks to create a heightened view of the natural world with dramatic, lush and complex colors beyond the expected greenery. Rhythm, light and color all dominate her wonderful prairies and waterways, many of which are local in Illinois.

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Illinois park of the month: Siloam Springs State Park

Winter is on the way, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay away from Illinois’ parks. Some of them have fun activities during every season.

Located in Adams County, Siloam Springs State Park has opportunities for ice skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing and sledding when winter conditions permit.

Siloam Springs has gorgeous wooded terrain and is known for being one of the most beautiful parks in the state. During warmer months, visitors can enjoy camping and picnicking. Family friendly picnic areas have grills, playground equipment, horseshoe pits, shelters and tables.

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