Culture Catalysts: John Edel (audio)
Culture Catalysts is a monthly series that celebrates and provides a platform for Chicagoans at the epicenter of the cultural scene. John Edel is the Founder and Executive Director of The Plant. After purchasing the building in July 2010, he immediately began deconstruction and renovation with a vision of intentional reuse, economic development, and truly sustainable food. John’s foray into building redevelopment was at the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. As General Contractor, Edel took the facility from a burnt-out shell to 100 percent occupancy while using a mixture of waste-stream recycled materials and leading-edge technology to make the building exceptionally energy efficient and pleasantly non-toxic. The renovation was assisted by a core group of volunteers and by bartering with suppliers, tenants and scrappers. In previous careers, John taught computer graphics, designed sets for broadcast television, art directed video games, and worked as a chef on private railroad cars. He has a lifelong dream of combining industrial preservation and plants in a productive, conservatory-like project.