Chicago Botanic Garden
2008 Annual Report

The Color of Hope.

"Each of us seeks a different shade or tint, but we always find it."

This past year, as we watched the economy fall faster than Chicago temperatures in January, we started coming to our senses. As though shaken from some deep slumber, we began to understand how much we have taken for granted. We “recalculated,” adjusting our internal compasses, turning to the important constants that never fail to enrich our lives and keep us whole.

We see things differently now.

Our lives are a tapestry of emotions and experiences, each one a color that captures a moment in time. The color of happiness — a Mother’s Day walk through the crabapple blossoms along the Great Basin. The color of laughter — children exploring the secret alcoves of the Circle Garden. The color of inspiration — a student completing a soil experiment or harvesting her first tomato. The color of community — a hot summer night with people of all ages and ethnicities, from every corner of our region, dancing on the Esplanade.

And the color of hope?

Each of us seeks a different shade or tint, but we always find it. It’s always here — at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It’s been true since we opened 37 years ago. It’s been true for over 15 million visitors to date. It’s true every day of the year. Yes, today’s world is a challenging one. Perhaps the old rules no longer apply, but the old values do. The Chicago Botanic Garden is a community where they are nurtured and bloom. Here everyone can rediscover the little things that mean the most. Around every corner in the Garden are places for joy and healing, research and renewal, love and laughter. And despite the fact that the economy is giving the environment a run for its money in terms of the media spotlight, the Chicago Botanic Garden has not veered from a course of action that clearly establishes the issues of climate change and ecosystem conservation as its major focus through plant research, field work, education, operations and public policy.

PHOTO: The Great Basin crabapples in full bloom

Just a year ago, a plant science center was a sketch on a map of the Garden. Today, the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, a 38,000-square-foot research center, is just months from completion on September 21, 2009.

That means the Garden’s important plant conservation work will no longer be conducted behind the scenes. Visitors will be invited to watch scientists in nine new state-of-the-art laboratories saving plants around the world — giving the color of hope a new hue.

There is another color that makes the Garden special. We all find it here in every season. It’s the color of commitment. We can see it in the Garden’s 50,000 member families; extraordinary Boards; 1,000 dedicated volunteers; extraordinary staff; corporate and philanthropic partners; civic and academic partners; and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and its President Todd H. Stroger, its commissioners, and

General Superintendent Steven M. Bylina, Jr. We see it in you and are extremely grateful.

This year’s annual report has its own color. The color of sharing. Pass along a beautiful postcard of the Garden to someone who needs to see a little hope.

No doubt you noticed this Annual Report is missing some traditional information; we invite you to discover the full report online here.

Sincere good wishes for a joyous summer,

PHOTO: Sophia Siskel and William Hagenah

SOPHIA SISKEL
President and CEO

WILLIAM J. HAGENAH
Chairman