When Deloris Lucas started meeting staff from the Forest Preserves of Cook County at community meetings on Chicago’s South Side a few years ago, she was already aware of nearby Beaubien Woods. The bike and wellness group she founded, We Keep You Rollin’, included the preserve in some of their rides for local residents.
As the Forest Preserves began forging deeper connections with residents and organizations in the area through its Better Beaubien project it was clear that We Keep You Rollin’ was a perfect fit.
Last year, we asked Lucas’ group to provide bikes so visitors could take a ride at our Beaubien Celebration and River Paddle events at the preserve, and supported her Eco Tour bike rides that conclude at Beaubien Woods, too.
“The biggest impact is providing more ‘wellness in the woods’ opportunities for getting the community healthier,” Lucas says.
The Forest Preserves holds more than 1,000 public events and programs each year, and is looking to expand those offerings by continuing to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with local community partners like We Keep You Rollin’.
We’re seeking partnership proposals from community members and organizations for activities, events and programs in the Preserves that educate and encourage the public to become regular visitors and advocates of the Forest Preserves. That could be leading a tour, holding a sing-along, bringing out toddlers or teens, a presentation on local history—or whatever you think your community would enjoy.
Forest Preserves programs typically focus on nature education, outdoor recreation, or cultural and seasonal celebrations. But we will consider any proposal that emphasizes the health benefits of nature for people and communities, engages new and diverse visitors from all walks of life, or celebrates the natural and cultural treasures of the Forest Preserves and surrounding communities.
In addition to providing space or a location for your proposed event or program, the Forest Preserves will consider requests that include an ask for staff support and up to $5,000 in funding. Help connect your community to their forest preserves by sharing your ideas—or sharing this article with members of your community.