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Perfume and Honey

December 31, 2012

Grant Park, Chicago, (c) Diego Delso, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I’ve written about my hometown of Chicago before in this blog, because a) I love the city, and b) there’s a lot of interesting green projects going on there. Recently, I came across a line of honey products at Midway Airport that seemed worth mentioning. They also reminded me of an article I read a few months ago about another enterprise.

First, beeline is a project of the North Lawndale Employment Network, an organization that works to help people find and keep good jobs, including people who are underemployed, unemployed, and formerly incarcerated. The beeline product line includes honey and “honey-infused body care products,” all made from honey gathered in Chicago hives that are tended by NLEN clients. Most of the hives are located on the west side of the city, although they have recently expanded to include an apiary at O’Hare airport (hence the display at O’Hare’s sister airport, Midway).

This seems like a nice win-win: a local green business, with the added benefit of helping an underserved population (they report that the recidivism rate of their formerly incarcerated employees is less than 4%, compared to the national average of 65% and the state average of 55%).

The second business I wanted to mention is Tru Blooms Chicago, a product developed by the for-profit Tru Fragrance company. I first found out about this perfume from a nice article in Grist, which explained that the owner of Tru Frangrance, Monte Henige, came up with the idea of a perfume made exclusively from flowers grown within the city limits — an interesting riff on urban agriculture. One of the cool things about this project is that the company formed partnerships with everyone from the Chicago Botanic Garden to community gardens and organizations devoted to urban agriculture. Tru Fragrance paid for a total of 2 acres (spread out over many places, including downtown locations at the Water Tower and Grant Park, pictured above; see this map for the locations) to be planted with roses, violets, and lavender and tended by local workers.

I love both of these projects because they are really (literally) grounded in Chicago — in the city’s soil and vegetation. They are explicitly place-specific. In a way, the honey tastes like the city, and the perfume smells like it!

Happy New Year, everyone.

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