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Letter from Publisher

Peggy Malecki

It’s definitely been a fall to confuse our senses. Chicagoans experienced snow on Halloween (a day which included an incredible migratory rufous hummingbird stopping at my backyard feeder in the midst of the snowfall), record low temperatures, snow a week later and more unseasonably cold weather and cloudy days. A few eager homeowners are already stringing up holiday lights, amaryllis bulbs and poinsettias are on display at local garden centers, and the airwaves are filled with seasonal shopping ideas and the occasional holiday song. Yet at the same time, a few trees are still largely filled with leaves, the last of the birds are migrating through… and as of this writing, I somehow have yet to plant my hard neck garlic and the last of the muscari bulbs.

As we get in the spirit of holiday season with this month’s Natural Awakenings Chicago, we’re focusing on creating community and how we can work together to solve the issues that affect us all. Communities and grassroot efforts show up in many forms, be they formal organizations, school teams, environmental organizations, singing groups, yoga studios, community gardens or myriad other opportunities that join us for a common goal and purpose.

In our main feature article, author Linda Sechrist provides a compelling argument that collective wisdom, the power of collaborative change and the need to evolve from a culture of “me” to a culture of “we” may be a major key to addressing the global challenges that confront humankind.

Of course, to have the ongoing strength to nourish the greater good for all, we must also nourish ourselves, our friends and families with healthy, tasty and nutritious food. We’re happy to include many great recipes this month from local experts to add to your celebrations, relax over on a quiet evening at home or easily prepare on a busy weeknight.

December always seems to fly by in an instant, and I hope you’ll find some time to be mindful of the world around us as the season unfolds. Although we’ve had snow, there’s still lots to explore in our gardens, parks, forest preserves and natural areas. One traditional December event is the annual Christmas Bird Count that occurs each year from December 14 through January 5. It’s the ideal chance for beginning birdwatchers and seasoned birders alike to learn more about our winter avian friends and contribute as a citizen scientists. To learn more and sign up for a count near you, check out Sheryl DeVore’s article in our Green Living department.

Whatever your outdoor interests, I encourage you to spend time while walking the dog, an extra 15 minutes at lunch, a weekend day or whatever moments you have available observing our Midwest landscape as it finishes the transition to winter. Sign up for an outdoor event, volunteer for a stewardship day or enjoy a short hike at a natural area. If the weather is not to your liking, there are many indoor events focused on our natural world to enjoy at museums, libraries and other institutions. Who knows, you may even still hear and see some sandhill cranes high overhead on a crisp, sunny day.   

Wishing you a joyful holiday season, and a peaceful and healthy new year.