In The News

Parks pioneer Jens Jensen doc gets double exposure

This story originally appeared in Reel Chicago

By Mike Morgan

The doc, “Jens Jensen the Living Green,” the story of the pioneering conservationist who created many neighborhood Chicago parks, gets a rare simulcast June 19. WTTW/11 will air it, while an audience watches it at Millennium Park, both starting at 8 p.m.

The Chicago premiere at Pritzker Pavilion is a first-ever collaboration betweenWTTW and Millennium Park, where it will be shown on a mammoth 20×40-foot screen.

The 60-minute doc, winner of six top festival awards, was directed by Carey Lundin and coproduced with writer Mark Frazel of Viva Lundin Productions.

Joining Lundin when she introduce their film on stage will be Geoffrey Baer, WTTW program host and producer, and Piet Oudolf, the designer of Chicago’s Lurie Garden. The Millennium Park Foundation and the Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs are the event presenters.

The fact that the film is being shown in Chicago’s natural, downtown oasis would no doubt please landscape architect Jensen, who believed parks “make the modern city livable,” Lundin say. 

The film traces the inspirational story of a penniless Danish immigrant who arrived in Chicago in the 1880s and became a champion of the environment. Jensen helped save the Indiana Dunes and created natural public spaces for Chicago’s West Side, including Humboldt, Douglas and Columbus parks, and the Garfield Park Conservatory 

Lundin will use the WTTW/Millennium Park premiere to kick off an 18-month campaign she calls “The Jens Jensen The Living Green Movement” to inspire audiences to take action in their neighborhoods and advocate for more community gardens and parks, and to protect their health.

“Jensen’s message could not be more relevant today,” she says.

The project will target teens, millennials, gardeners, seniors and civically-minded families across the country about the importance of urban parks and gardens.

Many conservation groups, such as the Forest Preserve of Cook County, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Earth Day Network and the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club are partnering with Lundin. 

The doc was shot at Jensen-founded parks by Lana Bernberg with additional photography by Pete Biagi. 

Supporters were the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council, Indiana Dunes Tourism, Richard Roddewig, Parklands Foundation and Viva Lundin Productions. 

Preceding the Millennium Park screening will be a concert at 6:30 p.m. by eighth blackbird, Chicago’s popular contemporary chamber music sextet.