Originally published in India Post, October 8, 2020. 

CHICAGO: United for Peace Coalition of peace and interfaith organizations from all across Chicagoland area held a Gandhi Nonviolence Rally in Naperville, a Chicago suburb, on Oct 2, 2020, a day that has been designated as the International Nonviolence Day by the United Nations. This was in honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. The hosting organizations included United for Peace, Non Violence works, Unity Partnership, Diversity Diners & Gandhi 150 Commemorative Stamp Initiative. 

Coalition members felt that at this turbulent time in nation history witnessing increased polarization and violent clashes in cities, it is important to reinforce the principles of nonviolence and equal rights espoused by Gandhi in India’s freedom movement, and followed by Martin Luther King in his civil rights movement here. 
 
The outdoor event was attended and addressed by many elected representatives- Illinois State Senators Laura Ellman & Ram Villivalam, Naperville City Councilman Benny White, Aurora Alderman- Sherman Jenkins, Hanover Township trustee-Khaja Moinuddin and several others. Congressman Raja Krisnamoorthi sent a message mentioning that in honor of Gandhi he had introduced a bipartisan resolution with other members of Congress to observe this day as the International Day of Nonviolence in The US. 
 

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Category: In The News

Originally published in Chicago Tribune, September 25, 2020.

On a hazy September afternoon near a willow tree, a boy with a bright red backpack spotted something slimy on the ground. “Hello, all the mushrooms,” he said, gently tapping the fungus, trying not to crush any as his small feet moved through the grass. 

A teacher asked why they might be growing in that spot. The boy thought for a moment. “Because it’s shady and wet!” That was just one lesson for the group of kids at the Chicago Botanic Garden Nature Preschool, a program that’s part of the growing field of nature-based early childhood education.

Nature preschools were increasing before the pandemic, more than doubling in the last three years, according to a report from the Natural Start Alliance, a project of the North American Association for Environmental Education. The report estimates 585 schools across the country have nature-based education at their core, meaning a significant amount of time is spent outside. Illinois is among the states with the most programs — topping 20. California and Washington, with about 50 programs each, lead the list.

Aerosol transmission of the coronavirus has raised concerns over safety of walled-off spaces, and some parents are wondering if one solution during the pandemic is as simple as stepping outside.

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Category: In The News

Originally published in Chicago Tribune, September 22, 2020.

Niles village officials are hoping state legislators, citizens and professional studies will convince the Illinois Department of Transportation to approve traffic signals for an intersection where a 13-year-old bicyclist was killed in July.

On Sept. 11, letters signed by Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo were mailed to State Senators Ram Villivalam and Robert Martwick, and State Representatives Bradley Stephens and John D’Amico. The letters ask the elected officials to support the village’s request to IDOT for traffic control signals at Waukegan Road and Cleveland Street, which is part of a designated bicycle route.

The village is also seeking a traffic signal further east, at Caldwell Avenue and Cleveland Street, where the bike trail connects with Miami Woods and the North Branch Trail.
All four legislators, who each represent a district that includes a portion of Niles, were asked to mail a letter of support to the village by Oct. 1 so that it can be included in a larger package of documentation that the village plans to submit to IDOT officials.

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Category: In The News

Originally published in WGEM, August 27, 2020.

Springfield, IL - The Illinois Department of Transportation is facing questions over complaints of systemic racism. Current and former employees are calling for workplace equity and protocols to end racism in hiring and selection of contractors for statewide projects, especially in Southern Illinois.

Members of the Senate Transportation Committee asked IDOT officials how they plan to address the recent allegations. Transportation Secretary Omer Osman says racism, sexual harassment, and discrimination are not acceptable at the agency. Osman emphasized he is taking the discrimination complaint seriously.

"Any employee who has been a victim of discrimination can file an internal complaint with IDOT EEO or civil rights. Or, they may file externally if they don't want to go that route," Osman explained.

The Department's legal counsel says employees go through regular training to try and prevent discrimination similar to protocols with other state agencies. Osman said IDOT will enhance efforts to stop discrimination following recent attacks on minorities across the country.

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Category: In The News

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