The Roots & Routes Initiative


“Roots and Routes” is a collaborative project aimed at creating and sustaining the longest stretch of lakefront natural area within the Chicago Park District system, the Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC), in order to maximize benefits for neighboring communities and nature.

Who we are

Roots and Routes partners are united in our commitment to improving the quality of life for Chicago residents through deepening connections to nature in the city. The Initiative is strengthened as additional faith- and community-based organizations, art and cultural centers, schools, and social service agencies bring energy and ideas to this network.

What we envision

  • A culturally significant space where neighboring communities engage nature through co-developed programs and events.
  • Inspired neighbors that build their relationship to the BWC in ways that improve the health and resilience of both their communities and natural areas.
  • Lasting bonds between our partners and the BWC by ensuring that their language, art, and values are woven into the fabric of this lakefront refuge.

Gathering Spaces

Chicago Park District and The Field Museum are working with teams of artists and community-based organizations (CBOs) to create pathways to the lake for residents of nearby neighborhoods. In the fall of 2015, Chicago Park District awarded grants to five teams to develop “gathering spaces” within the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. These spaces, which will reflect the nature and culture of the area, will serve as assembly grounds and rest areas for people exploring the Corridor.

Meet the teams and their award-winning designs.

Green Ambassadors

In partnership with community-based organizations in the surrounding communities of the BWC, the Green Ambassadors is a paid internship program for high school students, held at The Field Museum. Youth receive training to conduct community facilitation, documentation, research, and action organizing, helping their communities connect to the BWC through real-world environmental and community issues. Interns learn biological and social science research methods and serve as community liaisons to local organizations.

Roots & Routes Community Map

Download English JPG