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Letter from Publisher

Peggy Malecki

My window is open to let in fresh air, and I’m surrounded by the sounds of early spring birdsong. The sun is shining as red wing blackbirds and grackles spar over the bird feeder. Robins, cardinals, finches and more all join the chorus programmed into their genetic code to welcome a coming season of abundance. Spring bulbs are starting to flower and buds are getting fat. The natural world continues its annual cycle.

Inside, my vegetable seedlings are thriving. This past week, I planted several trays of microgreens to help have a supply of nutrient-dense greens in the coming weeks until it warms up and I can plant outside. It feels like normal spring activity, except we’ve been thrown a global curveball of unknown proportions that affects us all.

Our human world was almost instantly turned upside-down and we’re all feeling an uncertainty about our personal and collective futures. As we stay home, keep a safe social distance apart, form new routines, face new isolation and possibly cope with illness and hardships, life a month ago seems a distant memory. It’s suddenly a time to face our challenges and process feelings. We each need to work through our sadness and loss to find meaning in what we’re experiencing. And it’s also a time to look to the future and of when this crisis passes, toward healing and new directions, and think about how we interact with, respect, conserve and support the other species with which we share this Earth.

One thing we can do for ourselves and our families now is to stay connected with nature and mindfully focus on the more positive things in our world. Consciously observing spring as it unfolds outside our homes is an almost certain mood lifter. Fresh air, sunshine, clouds, rain and even the occasional snowflake reconnects us daily. We may need to be inside our physical homes, but the natural world is also our home.

While we are all staying at home, set aside time each day to step outside and spend some safe, socially-distanced time getting fresh air via your own balcony, porch, yard, etc. Please follow your community’s current official orders and safety guidelines if walking your dog or taking a socially-distanced walk close to home. Conditions and closures are changing daily, so always be sure to check official websites for the latest info and follow the current guidelines.

Start your own garden, be it a container of herbs or large vegetable garden. Consider adding edibles to your flower garden. April is ideal to start seeds indoors for outdoor planting later in the spring. If you need seeds and planting supplies, order online or check a local independent garden center, as many are offering delivery services. I also invite you to tune in to The Mike Nowak Show each Sunday morning or catch the weekly podcast, where we talk with our guests about gardening and green living, resiliency, building community and supporting our environment during both the current crisis and beyond.

As you can, try to support community businesses, restaurants and practitioners (many have delivery offerings, or have moved their services online), as well as food banks, animal shelters and rescues. Help support local food via online virtual farmers’ markets, CSAs and food co-ops. Local farmers are focused on safety and community resilience, and purchasing from them shortens the food chain and will help sustain them and you through this crisis and beyond. Check The Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Illinois Farmers Market Association and Chicago Farmers Market Collective for more resources.

Here at Natural Awakenings Chicago, we’re providing frequent updates and additional educational and inspirational content throughout the month on our digital channels – namely, our website and social media. Please help us to share and support our local businesses and residents by visiting our website regularly at, following us on social media and also sharing with your friends, email lists and social connections.

We are all #InThisTogether.