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There are a number of ways for Chicagoans to take part in Earth Day. (Lauris Rozentals / Pexels)

After celebrations were scratched in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Earth Day is back in 2021 with in-person events designed to raise awareness of environmental issues.

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A rendering of John Ronan Architects’ plan for the Park District’s new headquarters. (Courtesy of Chicago Park District)

The 17-acre former industrial site in Brighton Park will encompass not only the Park District’s new headquarters, but a field house, nature play space, grand lawn, water features and more. “It’s going to be transformative,” said Park District Board President Avis LaVelle.

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(WTTW News)

Last summer, three Christopher Columbus statues were removed after violent altercations between police and protesters. For months, the sites sat empty. But last fall, a display of Italian American pride banners appeared in place of the former statue in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood.

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Cook County Forest Preserve stewardship days have looked different during the coronavirus pandemic. (Forest Preserve District of Cook County / Facebook)

Green spaces have seen unprecedented use during the pandemic, which has left land stewards overwhelmed by crowds, but heartened to see so many new visitors.

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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.

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(WTTW News)

After a three-year, student-led grassroots campaign, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners voted to officially remove the name of Stephen Douglas from what’s now temporarily known as Park 218. 

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Someone took matters into their own hands and unofficially changed the name of Douglas Park on signage earlier in 2020. (WTTW News)

Students leading the movement to change the name of Douglas Park said they were frustrated to have been left out of the board’s meeting Wednesday, and for their broader campaign to have been ignored. 

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Grant Park in Chicago. (WTTW News)

With more than 300 acres in a prime downtown location, it’s no wonder Grant Park is sometimes referred to as Chicago’s front yard. But if you ask the leaders of the Grant Park Advisory Council, some yard work is in order.

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Someone took matters into their own hands and unofficially changed the name of Douglas Park on signage earlier in 2020. (WTTW News)

The movement to rename Douglas Park after Frederick Douglass had hit a bureaucratic brick wall. Recent shifts in the political and social landscape encouraged activists to keep forging ahead with their campaign, which relaunches Saturday.

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(Credit: Chicago Park District)

Chicagoans will get their yearly fix of cinema under the stars despite the coronavirus, the Chicago Park District announced late Friday. The city’s annual “Movies in the Parks” series is a go, with some key public health restrictions in place.

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Playgrounds remain closed, awaiting public health guidance. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago parks have reopened — though technically the outdoors was never “closed,” except along the lakefront — but access to facilities and equipment will remain limited.

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A Chicago police vehicle blocks the track at Mandrake Park on the city’s South Side. (WTTW News)

Despite restricted access to the lakefront and its adjacent parks during the pandemic, most Chicago parks are supposed to be open. Why some residents and park advocates are concerned about equitable access to these much-needed spaces.

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The Crown Fountain in Millennium Park is the type of amenity that earned Chicago’s parks top ParkScore marks. (R Boed / Flickr)

In an annual ranking by The Trust for Public Land, Chicago’s park system came in 10th out of the nation’s 100 largest cities, earning high marks for accessibility and amenities.

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A cyclist wearing a face mask rides a Divvy bike in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Since the city shut down lakefront parks and other public spaces in March, there have been calls for more open spaces. But some advocates say that push overlooks the priorities of communities of color, which have been hardest hit by the coronavirus. 

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Memorial Park in Blue Island (WTTW News)

Amid stay-at-home orders, park leaders are wondering how to help residents while keeping them safe. Thomas Wogan, executive director of the Blue Island Park District, says he’s trying to stay optimistic.

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The 20-acre West Ridge Nature Preserve is temporarily closed. (John Iwanski / Flickr)

An influx of visitors has made social distancing difficult, so the preserve was padlocked over the weekend. Nearby, Rosehill Cemetery has also closed its grounds to the general public.