KARMA YOGA ROUND III: CACA IN THE WHITE CITY
We are required to do 40 hours of outside work in order to graduate from Dharma's teacher training. There's a long list of things you can do, including helping out or teaching at the Dharma Yoga Center (30 hours), volunteering somewhere locally or teaching a weekly sequence of four free Dharma Mittra yoga classes (10 hours).
I just finished my two free April lunchtime classes -- one at the Chicago Yoga Center (Fridays) and one at the Uptown Writer's Space (Tuesdays). For the CYC class I did a bit of marketing (ie; flyering, posting it on my website and knocking on office doors in the building -- no small thing for an introvert such as myself), and actually introduced some people to yoga. The same was true at the Uptown Writer's Space, where actors from across the hall came to take the class. The experience pulled me out of my usual patterns and made me try something new, which is rarely a bad thing.
I also taught one free DM class at the Lululemon store and one at the Green Festival; both also a lot of fun and something I wouldn't ordinarily do. Each of those classes also had first-timers in them.
But I still have 20 hours left to work off; I'll write two papers to cover most of it -- a report on Autobiography of a Yogi and an essay interpreting a world issue or crisis through the filter of karma. To round it out I must do four hours of volunteer work somewhere. I was agonizing about this last week -- time is, after all, running out -- when Eric-from-Chicago Yoga Center told me about Chicago Cares, which connects volunteers with places that need help and posts a listing all of the options on a given day. The orientation is done online and takes about ten minutes (unlike, say, Little Brothers of the Elderly, which requires a background check that includes fingerprints).
Little Miss Fraidy Cat didn't want to deal with anything too depressing, so I called about greeting people and helping out at the Hyde Park Arts Center's 24-hour artmaking festival this weekend. Too late.
So tomorrow I'll be helping to clean up Jackson Park, which I've never visited. It's on the city's South Side, a stone's throw from the University of Chicago (and should not be confused with Washington Park, where the mayor wants to hold the Olympics). The 1055-acre park was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designers of New York's Central Park. It was also where the 1893 World Columbian Exposition's famed White City was built by Olstead and planner Daniel Burnham -- and where the HH Holmes of the bestelling Devil in the White City trolled for victims.
From the Chicago Park District's website:
A team of the nation's most significant architects and sculptors created the "White City" of plaster buildings and artworks. The monumental World's Fair opened to visitors on May 1, 1893. After it closed six months later, the site was transformed back into parkland. Jackson Park featured the first public golf course west of the Alleghenies, which opened in 1899. Today, two structures remain as impressive symbols of the World's Columbian Exposition. The "Golden Lady" sculpture is a smaller version of Daniel Chester French's Statue of the Republic which originally stood at the foot of the Court of Honor. The original Fine Arts Palace now houses Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.
The Osaka Garden from the expo is also still there.
But here's the good stuff, from Wikipedia:
During World War Two jingoistic vandals severely damaged the Japanese Garden. The Chicago Park District waited for decades before considering repairing it, in keeping with its long-standing policy of under-funding parks in minority neighborhoods. It wasn't until Osaka again donated money than the Garden was restored. During the Cold War the park housed a Nike-Hercules nuclear-tipped missile defense system; it was dismantled in 1971. In the 1960s an attempt was made to have Lake Shore Drive cut through the park. Many large trees were cut down, and Hyde Parkers protested vigorously. Elderly women chained themselves to trees, and people lay down in front of bulldozers until the city relente.
Now that's the stuff!
Tomorrow we will do "invasive species and debris removal."
It doesn't hold a candle to chaining ourselves to trees.
But it does provided food for thought if the Olympics do end up coming to Chicago...