4xForth: Forth Intern and Landscape Designer Clare Johnson / by Natalie Pavela

4xForth-Chicago-Clare-Johnson As is ritual on Fridays here at the Forth blog, we're highlighting one of the inspiring women from our community. Today we're delighted to introduce you to Clare Johnson, a landscape designer and Manager of Horticultural Therapy Services at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Clare is one of Forth's newest interns and we couldn't be more excited to have her join the team for the year ahead! She's one of those people who draws you in to her amazing energy and outlook on life the second you start a conversation. We're eager for her to share her talents with the Forth Community!

Today Clare chats about places she frequents in Chicago, her favorite spots to grab a bite to eat, websites she loves, and her favorite places to visit outside of the city. Read on for some great recommendations!

Places I frequent in Chicago

Southport Corridor: I adore this area. It holds many of my favorite places to visit: The Music Box Theater, Julius Meinl, Paper Source, DavidsTea, and so much more!

Recycled Fashion/Crossroads Trading Co.: This is my go-to shopping spot. It's a consignment shop with gently used clothing and accessories for women and men. There's something abundantly satisfying about finding a beautiful (and often designer brand) item of clothing for under $25. No joke; check it out.

Chicago Farmer's Markets: As I wander through the many Chicago markets -- ooh-ing and ahh-ing at delicious foods, artisan crafts, and fresh flowers -- I quietly sing to myself "these are a few of my favorite things... "

Namaskar Yoga: This studio is walking distance from my home and oh-so cozy. The studio space is intimate and inviting with great classes and instructors. Love, love, love.

Best Bites in Chicago:

Uncommon Ground: this place has my heart. For one, their menu is amazing. What's perhaps even more amazing is that they were the host to the nation's first certified organic rooftop farm. Locally grown, sustainable, and organic food; can't ask for more than that.

Julius Meinl: When I'm in need of a "me" date, I go here. Great food (I highly recommend the baked eggs!), great atmosphere, and super great coffee.

Mercadito: My husband and I don't go often but when we do, we gorge ourselves with their incredible tacos, guacamoles, flans and cocktails.

Inspiration Kitchens: With Chicago locations in Uptown and Garfield Park, two restaurants are run by Inspiration Corporation, an organization that provides essential social services to Chicagoans hardest hit by homelessness and poverty. They're a true inspiration -- both in culinary expertise and social service to the community.

Sites I lurve: 

Amy Poehler's Smart Girls!: "Change the world by being yourself!" Need I say more?

TED Talks: I'm frequently on this site listening to talks to gain inspiration, take a break and challenge my way of thinking . It's a big bucket list item of mine to give my very own TED talk one day. I don't know what it will be about -- but I believe it can happen.

Humans of New York: I was introduced to this site/photographer by a friend and I'm absolutely obsessed. If you haven't been to HONY, check it out.

Pinterest: Simple but true. I am on Pinterest for every reason under the sun: gardening tips, landscape ideas, crafts, costumes, interior design & fashion inspiration, cooking recipes - you name it.

Favorite places to visit outside of the city: 

North Brach Bike Trail: This is a beautiful bike trail just north of the city. Fall is the absolute BEST season to bike it because it takes you through the Skokie Lagoons, past beautiful forested areas and into the Chicago Botanic Garden (woot! - shameless plug).

Ravinia Music Festival: This is one of my all-time favorite summer locations. Outdoor music, picnics, friends & family, and a bottle o' wine = my perfect summer evening.

Evanston, IL:  I have a love affair with this eclectic town. If I ever move out of the city, it'll be to Evanston (fingers crossed!).

Starved Rock: I don't get out to SR as much as I'd like but when I'm in need serious nature immersion, I go here. It's a little under two hours from the city and offers ample hiking trails, camping opportunities and wineries.

Thanks for sharing Clare! 'Change the world by being yourself' is a slogan we can get behind. Way to go Amy Poehler. A visit to the Botanic Gardens (and taking the north branch bike trail to get up there) should be on everyone's list. Truly breathtaking. Uncommon Ground never lets you down for a delicious meal, and I'm putting Inspiration Kitchen on my list right away!

Friends, you can find Clare on Pinterest and Instagram.