Stories by Patty Wetli

Can We Eat Our Way Out of the Looming Asian Carp Eco-Disaster? It’s Worth a Try

A bighead carp, a type of Asian carp, caught in the Illinois River, the principal tributary of the Mississippi River. There are no North American fish large enough to eat Asian carp, according to the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee. (Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey)

Efforts to increase demand for Asian carp as a food are aimed at buying time for development of a long-term solution to the threat posed by the invasive fish.

Open House Chicago Extends Its Run By a Week, Adds Virtual Programming

The Forum in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. (Zachary Whittenburg / Chicago Architecture Center)

Open House Chicago will now run through Nov. 1, with additional online programming to be made available during the seven-day extension.

CTA To Roll Out PPE Vending Machines at Six Rail Stations

PPE vending machines, like this one installed at a New York subway station, are coming to six CTA stations. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Facebook)

Disposable face masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and disposable gloves will be available for purchase later this year at vending machines at CTA stations on the Red, Orange, Blue and Green lines.

Here’s One Reason You Might Start Seeing More Coyotes in the Chicago Area

(Rene Rauschenberg / Pixabay)

It's getting to be the time of year when young coyotes strike out from home in search of a mate and a territory to call their own. 

Pilsen’s El Paseo Community Garden Hedges Against Gentrification With Half-Acre Expansion

Community events and activities are as much a part of El Paseo's mission as gardening. (Courtesy of El Paseo Community Garden)

El Paseo Community Garden is hosting an open house Saturday to celebrate its achievements in 2020, which include the city handing over a half-acre vacant lot that neighbors feared would be developed into luxury condos. 

‘The Batman’ is Filming Around Town as Chicago Returns to the Role of Gotham City

The iconic bat signal seen above the city skyline as “The Batman” films in Chicago. (Photo submitted by Nick Murphy)

Fans have been sharing sightings of “The Batman” shoot on social media, as Chicago once again stands in for Gotham City.

Illinois Commerce Commission OKs Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion, Opponents Weigh Appeal Options

(Satya Prem / Pixabay)

Owners of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline have been given the go-ahead by Illinois to double capacity. Opponents aren't ready to give up the fight to block the expansion.

Join the ‘Big Sit’ at Big Marsh and Help Count the Migrating Birds

Warblers are among the birds people can expect to see at Big Marsh. (Skeeze / Pixabay)

The all-day event Saturday will take advantage of a sweet spot in the migratory timeline, with organizers expecting to record outgoing and incoming species.

South Side Market Box Program Tackles Food Insecurity By Tapping Into Network of Small Farms

Volunteers at Star Farm pack bags of fresh produce, purchased from small farms, to be delivered for free to South Side residents through the Market Box program. (Davon Clark)

Each week, 200 South Side households receive a free delivery of fresh produce, thanks to a collaboration between Star Farm and Experimental Station. To keep the program running through October, organizers need to raise $20,000.

Calling All Community Scientists: The Field Museum Needs Help Bringing Its Collection Into the Digital Age

Specimen labels need to be digitized in order to increase access to the information they contain. (Courtesy of the Field Museum)

The Field Museum is looking for volunteers to help digitize 100-year-old handwritten field notes and specimen labels in order to make the information more accessible to researchers.

Fall Fun: Pumpkin Patches, Apple Picking, Corn Mazes and More

(Veronika_Andrews / Pixabay)

From apples and pumpkins to pig races, hay rides, petting zoos and beyond, we’ve rounded up some options for fall fun in the Chicago area.

The Search Is On For Chicago’s Official Christmas Tree

(Millennium Park / Facebook)

Officials put out a call Friday for nominations for Chicago’s official Christmas tree. Pines need not apply.

Netflix Series ‘Emily in Paris’ Insults Lou Malnati’s, Lou Claps Back

Lily Collins as the titular Emily in “Emily in Paris.” (Netflix)

The kerfuffle involving a fictional character insulting Lou Malnati’s, by name, has earned national attention. 

Winter Dining Challenge Winners Announced. $5K Grants To Help Restaurants Winterize

(Courtesy of Winter Dining Challenge / OpenIDEO)

Cozy "cabins," modular blocks and heated tables that borrow a concept from Japan are the winners in the city's competition for outdoor dining designs. Now the race will be on for restaurants to implement these before cold weather hits. 

Chicago’s Once-Dominant Oak Trees Are in Trouble. Here’s How to Help

OAKtober Campaign Aims to Raise Awareness, Spur Action

(Mabel Amber / Pixabay)

Oak was once the predominant tree in the Chicago area. Now most of them are gone. Ecologists have a plan to make sure they don’t disappear from the region entirely, and they need our help.

Students Who Fought for Douglas(s) Park Name Change Win ‘Parktivist’ Award

Students and educators from Village Leadership Academy spent the summer canvassing North Lawndale to gain support for changing the name of Douglas Park to Douglass Park. (Village Leadership Academy / Facebook)

Students from Village Leadership Academy will be honored Oct. 16 at Friends of the Parks’ “Parks as Democracy?” annual conference, which will include a presentation from the youth activists.

Chicago Scientists Are Working To Crack the Mystery of Fall Color

What triggers the internal prompt that tells a tree "Oh hey, winter's coming"? It's a mystery to researchers. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

There’s still a lot that scientists don’t understand about what makes trees tick, especially when it comes to fall color. A team at the Morton Arboretum is working to unlock those secrets.

Illinois State Parks Aren’t Just This Artist’s Inspiration, They’re Her Business

Artist Raychel Steinbach, wearing one of her own nature-inspired masks. (Current Location Press / Facebook)

Chicago-based artist Raychel Steinbach has designed a series of prints that celebrate individual Illinois state parks. Now she’s using the same imagery, inspired by places like Starved Rock and Moraine Hills, in a line of handmade masks.

MWRD Turns Over Landscaping Job to Four-Legged Crew

Goats and sheep on the job at MWRD's Calumet plant. (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago / Facebook)

A herd of 65 sheep and goats replaced more traditional mowing equipment this summer at MWRD’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, where the animals helped maintain the native prairie landscape. 

Cook County Leads State in Deer Collisions. Watch Out as We Reach Peak Crash Season

(Hashan / Pixabay)

It's mating season for deer, which means more are on the move at dawn and dusk — prime time for deer-vehicle collisions. Cook County led the state in 2019 with 472 crashes.

This Year’s Harvest Moon Has Company. Look for Mars To Pay a Visit

(WikiImages / Pixabay)

Thursday’s full moon is the harvest moon, coming closest to the autumnal equinox. It will have some celestial company on Friday in the form of Mars, when the two will rise together and stay paired throughout the evening, according to experts.

Forget the Monsters of the Midway. Meet Da Fat Bears

Holly, the 2019 Fat Bear champ, is looking to defend her crown. (Katmai National Park & Preserve / Facebook)

It’s Fat Bear Week. No, we’re not mocking Matt Nagy’s squad, we’re talking about the annual competition to crown the beefiest brown bear in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. Here’s how to get in on the action.

Tips for Cutting Food Waste and Loss to Mark UN’s International Campaign

Composting is one way to reduce food waste. (Herb007 / Pixabay)

Tuesday marks the first ever International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, so let’s talk about the produce that spoiled in your refrigerator and the unopened cans you trashed because they were past their “expiration date.”

Illinois Records 2,500 New Coronavirus Cases as Infection Total Continues to Climb

Pedestrians in Chicago’s Northalsted neighborhood on a September day. (WTTW News)

State health officials also reported 25 coronavirus-related deaths, including seven in Cook County.

Officials Urge Residents to Get Flu Shot as State Reports 2,257 New Cases of COVID-19

(WTTW News)

With thousands still becoming infected with the coronavirus daily, health officials are urging Illinoisans to get a flu shot in order to avoid a dangerous co-infection.

City Extends Dates for Several Farmers Markets to Expand Access to Fresh Food

(Chicago City Markets / Facebook)

City-run farmers markets in the Austin, West Humboldt Park and Bronzeville neighborhoods have been extended further into fall in order to expand access to fresh food, officials said.