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In 1968, a large, passenger airport in the far South Suburbs of Chicago was first proposed by an economics professor at Northwestern University. Since then, the idea has seen many inceptions and permutations until finally, in 2001, after years of intense debate, the Illinois General Assembly approved seventy-five million dollars to begin land purchases on what could become the world’s third largest airport.
Since its inception, the potential existence of a large international airport near the small rural town of Peotone and its neighboring communities has been surrounded with controversy. Some area residents perceive the airport as a threat to the rustic community’s way of life while others believe construction of an airport is the best plan for the future, serving as a gateway to economic development.
George Ochsenfeld, Judy Ogalla, and Karen Cassin all make their homes in or near the proposed airport and are also key members of STAND (Shut This Airport Nightmare Down), the local anti-airport movement. The Field began following George, Judy, Karen, and other residents in the airport site in August 2002. The piece will analyze the complex issues of government and community through their accessible personal stories.
As taping continues, the State of Illinois has filed eminent domain proceedings with several residents within the airport footprint, and George and Judy decided to run for the State General Assembly to finally put an end to the airport.
Tom Desch (Producer/Director/Writer) grew in a small Midwest town where the adjacent parcel of land was a cornfield. Spending his youth on the line between development and open space had an impact on Desch, and much of his work relates to people and their relationship to their environment in some way. In 2016, he helped produce, edit, and writeShifting Sands: On the Path to Sustainability. The film explores the collision of industrial development and environmental activism on Lake Michigan’s South Shore. In 2013, he was part of the production team ofEverglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh, a PBS documentary about the draining of one of the largest freshwater marshes in North America. Both films have aired on PBS stations across the country and were nominated for Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards. Desch is currently producing two documentaries; THE FIELD and An American Home, a documentary about the birth of Prairie Style Architecture; When not producing documentaries, he works as a video editor for hire, and he has edited programs for PBS, A&E, and Discovery networks.
Brian Kallies (Producer/Editor Writer) is an Emmy award winning independent documentary filmmaker. Beginning at WTTW-Chicago, Brian produced and edited nationally distributed documentaries and the critically acclaimed Chicago Stories doc-series. He co-produced, shot and edited the Showtime documentary, Phunny Business: A Black Comedy, which was praised by Roger Ebert, The NY Times, Hollywood Reporter, The Onion, and The Guardian. Brian directed the environmental documentary Everglades of the North, which inspired a National Wildlife Refuge and water trail. His 2013 adventure documentary The 25,000 Mile Love Story narrated by Oscar winner John Ridley, about a couple that literally ran around the world; won over a dozen international film festivals. Brian produced and edited the 2016 American Public Television documentary Heroes On Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan, which The New York Times called, "catnip for aviation nerds". In addition to THE FIELD, he is currently producing and editing an upcoming World War II home front series called A City Goes to War.