Graphics and text by Cori Nakamura Lin
Project editing by Cassie Walker Burke
Design and development by Andjela Padejski
January 13, 2023
I moved to Edgewater in 2019 after spending a decade in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Returning to Illinois, and settling in the city for the first time, I desperately tried to find ways to root into my new home during a global pandemic.
Due to generations of migration and assimilation, I’ve lost the felt connection with Okinawa, Taiwan, and Japan that my ancestors had. One way I am grieving my distance from those islands and oceans is by introducing myself to the land and waters around me in Chicago.
When I moved to Chicago, it was the first time I felt truly committed to a place, and I felt a deep desire to be embedded in its ecosystem
I wanted to have
connections with my neighbors, local
businesses and the environment.
Lake Michigan used to be a giant, land-flattening glacier that traveled across the continent.
The Great Lakes are the largest system of freshwater in the entire world.
Lake Michigan is so large it has a 200-year-long cycle of rise and fall.
In the winter of 2021, I started a practice I called ICEWATCH.
Practically, ICEWATCH is very simple. Every few days of the winter I bundled up, walked over to the lake, observed the ice, took pictures and then went home.
For me, ICEWATCH is a deeply spiritual practice: I want to build reverence and fear for the power of the Lake, understand its changes more intimately, and pay my respects to the entity that gives life to all of Chicago. ICEWATCH is an attempt to grow closer to the Lake’s cycles.
In the stark quiet of an abandoned man-made beach, the brilliance of the ice formations are sharp and otherworldly. When no one else is around, I can pretend that I'm the only person to observe this particular ice form. A private, intimate moment between me and the Lake.
A recent report shares that, due to climate change, much of Edgewater, along with several other shore communities, is vulnerable to significant flooding in the coming years.
Instead of feeling scared or shutting down, I am trying to accept that people have always survived in this area by adapting to the Lake’s changes.
Living in Edgewater requires me to accept that so much is out of my control and that strong communities must prepare to be flexible, as well as interdependent.
When I stand on the shore for ICEWATCH23, I know that I'm strengthening my ability to endure the long winter ahead and its hardships. I hope my small commitments and practices will unfurl over time into a flexible spirit, weathered but resilient.
I need to slowly fortify myself into the kind of person who can do what is needed to live alongside a raging, changing, water Being.
I pray to the Lake that we can protect each other, rely on each other, change with each other, and most importantly, survive together.