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‘Breaking the cycle of poverty requires ingenuity and resolve’

Montana Butsch’s innovative rowing- for-the-underserved venture, based at Chicago Training Center, has recently celebrated its tenth birthday.

Although what Butsch, Oxbridge Boat Race veteran (Isis boat 2004) and entrepreneur, is doing in his native city does seem extraordinary, Chicagoland has a long history of engineering good fortune for itself, particularly in relation to its waterways.

You could say that this fiercely determined City of the Big Shoulders, a phrase from Carl Sandburg’s poem Chicago, is disinclined to tolerate misfortune. In 1855, Chicago City Council decided to raise the grade elevation of muddy streets and sidewalks that were originally built only slightly above water level and to install sewerage pipes with a feasible fall. This amounted to another of the city’s astounding engineering feats, says local architect Wayne Miller. “It necessitated raising the buildings too, some by as much as 14 feet, using screw jacks and timber lagging until foundations could be rebuilt to support them”.

Modern day Chicagoland is still manipulating its crucial waterways, often adversely, but pressure is now on to embrace Chicago River as the focus of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls the city’s “next recreational frontier”.

Right Founder Montana Butsch with his own children.
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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, adaptive, college, club, ocean, and more.