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Directed by Tom Desch
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 works as a freelance editor in Chicago where he has worked on shows for Biography, Animal Planet, and PBS. His 2001 documentary Am I Perfect Yet, played at the Damah Film Festival and received a Kodak Film grant. When not shooting or editing, he can be found running along Chicago’s lakefront.