Calendar of excursions & workshops

Foreign Trade Zone: A People’s Consultancy

Research Device at Three Walls: April 26-May 31

For the month of May the Project Room at Three Walls hosts, not exactly an art exhibition, but a learning project that seeks to bring us into contact with some of the infrastructural forces driving the transformation of our society. We begin with maps, images and concepts, a set of materials to use and unmake, a set of knowledges to break apart and rebuild. Through workshops, walks and discussion we will extend the investigation into the lived space of the trade corridor heading southwest out of the city – an integrated space of highways, rails, canals and trade zones linked up to global supply chains.

– Events are subject to changes; check this page a few days beforehand to confirm.

– Three Walls gallery location and info here

– More info: 813-789-0123;


Sunday April 27, 1-5 PM: Walk of the Divides

Meet at the Canal Origins Park (Ashland south of Sanitary Canal – 2689 S Ashland Ave)
We begin at a heritage marker narrating the official history of Chicago as the transformation of marsh to canal, and land to property. Looking for other ways to tell this story, we’ll go searching for the Continental Divide, long breached by canals and buried under landfill. We will encounter other divides that form the structure of daily life (sites include Sky Factory Grain Elevator, the former Crawford Power Plant, the Cook County Jail and Corwith railyard).
lots of walking; bring a snack and water

Saturday, May 3, 11 AM-3PM: Resiliency and Hope in South Chicago

Meet at Three Walls in the Project Room, carpool to South Chicago. Or meet at 11:30 at 8459 S Buffalo, the Bush Community Garden of Hope.
The walk explores the massive South Works development project, on the site of the former US Steel mill, and its impact on this old Chicago neighborhood. The excursion begins with a work day at the Bush Community Garden of Hope, where we will meet local gardeners the right way – with shovel in hand. After a bit of digging and clean-up, gardeners will lead us on a walk through the Bush neighborhood to the South Works site. Along the way we will talk about interference zones, strategies for survival and collective resiliency.
light walking; bring lunch to share and water

Sunday May 4, 11 AM-6 PM: Port of Chicago and Lake Calumet

Meet at Three Walls in the Project Room, carpool to the bridge at S. Harbor and Ewing Ave.
We will move by car and foot through the sprawling industrial zones and harbor areas of the Port of Chicago, approaching the Foreign Trade Zones, crisscrossing the Calumet River, hissing at the pet coke piles, crossing the many bridges and ending up at the Powderhorn Lake Park.
light walking, carpools between sites; bring a lunch and water or grab smoked fish at Calumet Fisheries

Wednesday May 7, 6-8 PM: Stateville and the Warehouses

Discussion at Three Walls.
Sarah Ross of the Prison Neighborhood Art Project (PNAP) offers her reflections on the experience of driving through the Romeoville and Bolingbrook warehouse districts to reach Stateville Prison where she organizes an arts and education program. What does warehouse space say about the prison, and vice versa? Presentation followed by discussion with PNAP participants.

Wednesday, May 14, 6-8 PM: Bioregional Mapping from Below – Part 1

Workshop at Three Walls.
Sarah Lewison introduces us to the concepts and practices of bioregionalism. Participants share their knowledge visually, by adding hand-drawn layers to a prepared base map. The workshop seeks to open up new possibilities for the collective experience of natural and existential territories.

Thursday, May 15, 6-8 PM: Bioregional Mapping from Below – Part 2

Workshop at Three Walls.
A more focused exercise in developing layers of understanding and imagery.

Friday, May 16, 12 PM-6 PM: Energy Walk

Meet with the Compass group at 1849 N. Sawyer Ave, carpool to Lockport (45 mins).
We will walk between the Citgo Refinery, the Sanitary Canal, the railroad tracks and the vestiges of the I&M Canal. The walk explores the refinery and a major energy installation (Will Country Electric Generating Station) and the relation between the corridor and the Des Plaines River.
lots of walking, carpools between sites; bring a bag lunch and water.

Saturday May 17, 12 AM-5 PM: BP / Petcoke Protest in Whiting

Meet at Three  Walls. Carpool to Whiting (or meet at the protest around 1:30)
In Chicago, a national protest coincides with a local action against the BP Refinery in Whiting, which refines tar sands oil and produces the toxic petcoke that has been blowing into residents’ lungs in South Chicago. We’ll join the Southeast Environmental Task Force and other groups, then check out Arcelor-Mittal and other sites in the area. Location of the protest and other info here.
carpools between sites; bring a bag lunch and water.

May 25, 11 AM-6 PM: Choking Points in the Supply Chain

Meet at Three Walls, carpool to the CenterPoint Intermodal Center near Joliet.
The walk and drive explores logistics operations and labor resistance in the largest warehouse district in the Chicago land region, home to the BNSF and Union Pacific intermodal rail yards as well as Walmart, Home Depot and many other major corporations. Guest presentation by Dreadsen, worker at Mobile Rail Solutions and organizer of contracted-out rail workers around racial and gender oppressions and labor conditions on the rail line.
light walking, carpools between sites; bring a bag lunch and water.

May 27: 11 AM-6 PM: Ottawa Sands

Meet with Laurie Palmer at 1849 N Sawyer Ave # 1.
After an introductory presentation we will carpool to the city of Ottawa, at the other end of Indian Boundary Line and the old I&M Canal. Drawing on years of research into the production of industrial materials, Laurie will guide us to a factory producing ultra-fine sand for fracking operations. Let’s see this economy up close and find out what is happening.
light walking, carpools between sites; bring a bag lunch and water.

May 29: 6-8 PM: Path Dependencies and Learning Walks

Lecture and discussion at Three Walls.
Brian Holmes and Rozalinda Borcila plus special guests discuss the form of the learning walk and its relation to the historical pathways on which present-day existence depends. How to recognize the repetitive loops that shape the evolution of society? How to find other guidelines, forgotten paths, new interdependencies? This evening reflects on the month’s explorations as well as other forms of environmental learning-by-doing, in order to feel out the next steps.

May 31: Last day of the research device at Three Walls