Our Rural Paradise

by Lisa Stamos


Photo Lisa Stamos

If there is one thing that I heard over and over again from the conservationists involved in this issue, it is that the expansive open lands around us in the Barrington area did not just happen. These precious spaces of prairie, savanna, woods, marsh, and wetlands are here because of the foresight, mobilization, and hard-fought battles won by residents to keep them intact since the early 1950s, when housing and commercial sprawl was surrounding this area.

The residents who were involved in securing the Village of Barrington Hills early on, and then preserving our larger Barrington area, have averted proposals that would have forever altered our rural paradise. Some of those proposals were for super-sized regional projects including malls and hotel and resort properties, thousands of units of high-density housing, a juvenile detention center, and even a national accelerator research lab. (We have detailed these in our July/August 2017 issue within the BACOG feature.)

While some of the mid-20th century open space related associations have disbanded, today there is strength with the Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG), as well as Citizens for Conservation, Barrington Area Conservation Trust, and many active groups that are keeping our open spaces open, preserved, and healthy. It was a fascinating experience to learn how CFC has been putting the prairie back by its plantings, seed cultivation, and seed collecting at Grigsby Prairie—the “parent prairie” for growing and collecting seeds—and then has recreated near-original Illinois prairie at Galloping Hill—the “child prairie” based on the Grigsby seeds—and is mixing and sharing these vital plant materials with other groups in neighboring communities. The farmers of yesteryear had mowed down these spaces when farming was a way of life. Putting the prairie back restores the natural habitat for wildlife, birds, and us to thrive in.

Our January/February 2018 issue showcases the extraordinary environmental leadership, unsurpassed volunteer work ethic, and some of the visionaries who gave selflessly of their talents, time, and treasure. Thanks to all of the people who helped us bring together this conservation issue, and to our wonderful advertisers who make this magazine possible.

Barrington’s Town Warming Returns

On Feb. 3, 2018, the Village of Barrington’s Cultural Commission will host a one-day Town Warming event. We asked Karen Darch, our village president, to share her interest in bringing this unique event back to life. Learn more about the event on page 94.

I became fascinated with the Barrington Town Warmings when I first learned about them when my children were studying Barrington history and checked out the “Barrington Town Warming” books from the library. I was so impressed that our Barrington forebears had the interest, wisdom, and energy to pull together the Town Warming events in the 1930s and 1940s and present such a terrific series of speakers to our community gathered in the school auditorium. The idea of the community coming together in the freezing cold winter to learn from and be reenergized by nationally and internationally renowned presenters in our little Barrington, 35 miles from the big city of Chicago, in the times before television, really struck me as unique and exciting. Reading those Town Warming books—which were a collection of the talks given by the speakers, as well as biographical information about the speakers—I was struck by what they had to say about the series (and the community):

“The Barrington Town Warming represents to me the sort of thing that ought to be operated in every community in America. It…provides a stimulus for community thinking and discussion which would be the salvation of many towns whose chief sin is smallness,” Dr. Roy L. Smith said in 1942. In the same year, Dr. William L. Stidger said, “Such a series of lectures each year makes world citizens of the people who attend such meetings, and, now and tomorrow, America must have men and women who have the face of the world in their knowledge, their thinking, and their outlook.”

I think that so many Barringtonians were and are lifelong learners and investors in culture and life that the “Barrington Town Warming” should always find a home in Barrington. – Karen Darch

Happy New Year!