Meet the Lab

We are the Freshwater Lab Media Group, an interdisciplinary consortium led by UIC Freshwater Lab founder and director Rachel Havrelock. As artists, city planners, writers, scientists and scholars in Chicago, we bring a multi-faceted approach to reimagining a thriving watershed with equitable access to a healthy river system. Our group formed in May 2020, amid record flooding in Chicago and the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the urgent need for addressing the environmental and public health impacts of our current water infrastructure, we created and designed “The Backward River.” During a time of global pandemic, economic meltdown, mounting violence toward People of Color and the rise of a civil rights movement, we studied how the Chicago Area Waterway System produced the city and conditions in which we live and began to envision their transformation.