The National Park Service at 100

Happy 100 to the National Park Service! Here’s four parks we’ve visited in the Great Lakes Bioregion, starting closest to home as usual:

While the NPS celebrates a century, we Indiana dunepeople are marking the half-century of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. And very close to my home, we’re marking 40-years of the Miller Woods’ inclusion in the national lakeshore.

On the other side of the Indiana/Illinois is the most recent addition to the NPS in our region, created in February 2015. Visitor amenities are still undeveloped, but the recontructed Pullman Administration Building and grounds are occasionally open to the public. Neighborhood artists and their guests have been using the space for art builds and larger installations. I joined one hosted by the Break Free Midwest coalition in advance of our large action in May 2016. If you visit do check out the lovely wooded birding area east of the admin building.


River Raisin National Battlefield Park was created by law in spring 2009. It marks the site of the Battle of Frenchtown, a major defeat for the United States in the War of 1812. We haven’t visited the actual site but on our way to Detroit in 2013 we happened upon the Hull’s Trace unit of the park and enjoyed nice views of ┬áthe Huron River, the Pointe Mouille State Game Area, and Lake Erie.

Until we visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes in summer 2013 I didn’t fully comprehend that sand dunes could be so tall, the lake could be so blue, and that sandy shorelines didn’t always have to be spoiled by heavy industrial vistas.

Laborpaste In Gary

While driving through Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood in last days of January 2016 I was delighted to see a familiar face. It was that of Eugene Debs, legendary Hoosier radical, looking triumphant and happy, waving his hat from the first floor fire-escape of a boarded-up tenement. The life-size photograph was from the day of his release from prison in February 1921 after serving three years for sedition for his outspoken opposition to the Great War.

More familiar faces greeted me when I returned to Pullman in May. Dolores Huerta, another Debs, a piercing-eyed Pullman porter (which honestly I first thought was someone peeing in the alley), and even more labor heroes appearing beyond the immediate neighborhood: Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, A Philip Randolph, a young Caesar Chavez, Lucy Parsons, even Debs’ beloved hunting dog Babe.

I was in the neighborhood that day to help with an art-build for the upcoming Break Free Midwest protest. Some kind Pullman artists offered us space in the massive former Pullman Administration Building, now a national park. As I explained how excited I was to see Debs to the man unlocking the building he turned to me and said, “Well I put them up!”

His name is JB Daniels, the project is called Laborpaste, and it has since expanded to Terre Haute (Debs’ hometown) and now Gary, Indiana. Here’s JB at his home studio in Pullman:

In the spirit of the project we’ll let you find these for yourself and we’ll enjoy watching them fade away over time.