Mobile garden hopes to hit the rails next April

Joe Baldwin is hoping to bring a native plant garden to the masses via a flatbed CTA car next spring.

Baldwin is talking with the CTA about all the details. A CTA spokeswoman said there is no agreement yet, but the transit agency is putting together a cost estimate. The CTA still needs more technical information and whether it’s even feasible. Update: The cost for this would be borne entirely by Baldwin’s group.

Some details can be found at the Mobile Garden site, including prototype photos like the one shown here.

Good luck on this. Seems like a cool, but possibly expensive project.

mobile garden.jpg


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  • WTF?

  • The CTA is broke!
    Massive cutbacks in service are coming!
    Large scale layoffs of employees are coming!
    A huge fare increase is coming!
    And they're going to waste money on this idiocy!!!!

    And we all thought that Frank Kreusi was incompetent?
    This crew is challenging him on that!

  • Scooter, I probably didn't make it clear -- the CTA would not spend a penny on this. All costs would be covered by the group trying to do this.

  • To me, it depends on who is paying for it.

    If this Joe Baldwin is paying for any associated costs (or has a sponsor ready to pay for it), then I have no problem with the idea. The CTA charters trains to TV, movie and commercial productions, and private tour groups, and makes additional revenue for this. (They charge for everything from use of equipment to labor, including operators, supervisors, maintenance, switchmen and towermen.) If the purpose of the cost estimate is to tell Joe how deep he has to dig into his pocket, then I have no problem with it.

    On the other hand, if this Joe Baldwin thinks this is some project he can politically strong-arm the CTA into doing on its own dime, then shame on him and Rodriguez (or whoever is calling the shots for him).

  • Why dont you give your money directly to the CTA so they dont have to increase fares. Trust me CTA riders care about that alot more then some plants on a train car. I also find it hard to believe that the CTA wont pick up any of the costs.

  • I don't care who pays for it, it's a waste of money!
    Mike d is correct, just donate money to the CTA, maybe to finish Washington/State & get a big plaque for doing so, plus signs on the platform.
    We don't need circuses, we need transit!
    This would do nothing to move people from A to B, or Howard to Lake!

  • As long as Baldwin is paying for it, I like it.

  • What's the point?

  • Use it to get some of those carbon offset credits that the C.T.A. supposely attempting to get.

  • Ok, this undoubtedly is a lovely idea but is just a complete waste of time, money and energy. Instead of fundraising to put plants on a train do something that will actually benefit the riders of the train system. For example what was suggested put the money towards finishing some of the stops. Take a step back a take a hard look at whats really effecting our transit, certainly not having plants on a train.

  • Well, It's my time and energy and I'll be fundraising for it which will likely be for what the CTA will charge to host the project - I already have several sources of donors for the plants and materials. There also happens to be hundreds of people who think it's a great idea or at least support the research of the idea. The cost that will be associated with the project is probably a fraction of what it would take to fix even one of the stops that needs fixing. This project is not about improving transit, only fares & tax dollars and the CTA can do that. This project is essentially an art installation of a public garden with promotional materials built around educating people about the importance of native plants in the community. I feel like these comments are displaced, maybe because it involves the CTA?, but I really do appreciate all of them. Lastly I think seeing a garden pull up to the station of my morning commute would be refreshing, even if just for a few weeks.

  • In reply to noisivelvet:

    Unfortunately, you're correct; comments about your project do reflect feelings about the CTA and perceptions of waste rather than the merit of individual projects that deviate from the "norm" of providing conveyance from point A to point B. Some people just don't expect whimsy from their transit agency. Look at the annual flap over the Train. I'm sure there will be plenty of consternation this year about the waste of money and how could they and who really cares anyway and why are you proselytizing CTA???...blah, blah, blah...when actually the train engenders goodwill and makes SUV-driving suburbanites use CTA, if only for one night. Even Jesus would rate that as a miracle!

    Same thing with the mobile garden. I think it's a great idea if you can get funding that adds absolutely no cost to the CTA and might actually add the revenue of occasional riders who enjoy the novelty and community, as with the Holiday Train.

    The unfortunate thing is that we're in a deep recession and this project, however worthy, seems straight outta 2005. Remember the garden barge that circled Manhattan for a few weeks way back in the halcyon days of the sub-prime bubble? It was great, but now a similar project just seems a little too much "let them eat cake" or fiddling while Rome burns for the current economic ugliness.

    That said, I'll ride your mobile garden train and love it because I think it's great and I think we need some beauty and the unusual in our lives. I'll talk it up and try to reason with the unreasonable about why it should exist. Best of luck to you!

  • In reply to marthat3:

    People don't expect whimsy from the CTA, because the CTA is a well-known foe of whimsy. Even the Santa's Elves on the Holiday train look surly.

  • In reply to marthat3:

    Seems like an interesting idea, but that concept art is absurd and would probably cost millions to make. I think people here might not be reacting so badly had this story come with a plausible design.

  • In reply to marthat3:

    Hi David, The CTA has said that they would require a few of their employees to be aboard at all times to prevent 'hop ons' - Santa's elves are cleverly for the same purpose. I also think that people do expect whimsy, to an extent, from their transit and enjoy it as well. If you google the holiday train you'll find all kind of images and video, and there are recent projects like that are seeing success. I sure hope it doesn't cost millions goldfish, not sure the funds, grants and donations run that deep for the arts. Martha - I love the waterpod project and I'm in contact with the artist to learn from their experience.

  • In reply to noisivelvet:

    Seems silly, better idea buy some coolers and pass out beers on the train.

  • In reply to noisivelvet:

    I'd be afraid that someone (drunk college student or homeless person, clinging to a bottle of Gordon's Extra Dry Gin and hoping for a warm bed) would hop onto it and hitch a ride. It's a pretty concept, not sure if it's a safe one though.

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