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Who We Are

Green Community Connections provides a place to tap into conversations about sustainability issues and to identify concrete steps you can take. We believe change is both necessary and possible and the best way to get there is together. Learn more About Us.

“Birds, Bees & Butterflies Native Garden Tour” gets enthusiastic response


The September 7th Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour hosted by West Cook Wild Ones and Green Community Connections drew more than 140 experienced and beginner native plant gardeners and those wanting to learn what this was all about. They came from near (Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Berwyn and Cicero) and farther—Plainfield, Downers Grove, Elk Grove Village and various parts of Chicago — to visit 11 residential and public gardens.  More than 40 homeowners, master gardeners, volunteers, sponsors and Forest Preserve staff members also helped to make the afternoon a rich, educational – and fun! – event.

The West Cook Wild Ones Wildlife Corridor also received a lot of attention at the event, and more people pledged their gardens to be part of it. The Wildlife Corridor is envisioned as a contiguous swath (at least 2 per block) of native gardens in residential and public spaces from Columbus Park in Chicago to Thatcher Woods in River Forest.  Watch for more detail and ways to be involved in this unique and important project which will be coming soon.

After the garden tour, we informally surveyed participants and volunteers. We thought we’d share some of their enthusiasm, in hopes that through the upcoming, long winter, you might get inspired to plan some new native plantings in your own yard:

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Walking the Talk: Douglas Chien’s Urban Native Garden

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Douglas Chien’s Oak Park garden is attractive, colorful and full of life — and full of native plants. His garden was one of eleven featured on the September 7th, Birds, Bees & Butterflies native garden tour, which was co-sponsored by Green Community Connections and West Cook Wild Ones. In fact, many birds (including a female goldfinch), bees and quite a few species of butterflies appeared in his garden that day. Plus, more than 70 people came through for a tour.

Douglas, the Advocates’ Network Manager with Friends of the Forest Preserves, explained to visitors how he created his native plant oasis in the heart of West Cook County. About 12 years ago, Douglas and his partner Michele Gurgas bought their Oak Park home on a corner lot, which had a traditional landscape highlighted by lawn and two large American elm trees gracing the parkways. But within the year, the trees succumbed to Dutch elm disease and were taken down.

To take advantage of the new, plentiful sunshine, Douglas planted two young  native trees in his front yard: an American plum and a pagoda dogwood. In addition, he asked the village to plant a bur oak in the parkway.

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Connect in Action: Two Chances to Support Climate Action Marches


It’s not every day you meet national activists and get the chance to make history with them. On Saturday, September 6, ten Green Community Connections members and more area residents joined marchers at various points along the Oak Park-to-Chicago leg of the Great March for Climate Action. Billed as the “longest climate march in American history,” the Great March for Climate Action’s goal is to “change the hearts and minds of the American people, our elected leaders and people across the world to act now to address the climate crisis.”

Along our walk through Oak Park, Austin, Garfield Park, the Loop, Grant Park and a rally in Daley Plaza, we chatted with the 35 people who are participating in the entire 3,000-mile, 7-month march from Los Angeles to Washington DC. We also met and talked to Ed Fallon, the founder and director of the Great March for Climate Action. (See our interview with him below.)

Join Chicagoans in NYC for the People’s Climate March Sept. 21

You can still join the largest climate march: the People’s Climate March, in New York City on September 21.  At least eight members of Green Community Connections and the local chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby are going. Will you join us? Most of us are taking a bus organized by the Sierra Club’s Chicago chapter. Get the details here: https://www.eventjoy.com/e/il-bus-to-peoples-climate-march

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How “Sculpture Saves the Trees” – September 23rd, OP Main Library

Margot and owl in studio

Margot McMahon Tells How “Sculpture Saves the Trees” Sept.23 at Library:  Ten sculptors including Margot McMahon of Oak Park worked through Chicago Sculpture International and teamed with the Chicago Park District to keep dead trees from being removed by sculpting them.   McMahon carved and painted 13 flying song birds and an owl from a 200-year old tree that toppled in a wind storm in her back yard on Humprey Avenue. These birds now perch on her Jackson Park Tree along Lake Shore Drive south of 57th Street to remind commuters to reduce their carbon footprint.

Meet sculptor Margot McMahon and see the birds she carved that are now part of this innovative project on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. at the Oak Park Public Library.

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Bringing Nature to Your Home


What do you see when you look out of your window?  This butterfly took a moment to feed and rest in my Oak Park, IL yard. Every day this summer I’ve had visitors that entertain me.  It could be the American goldfinch picking at cupplant seeds, a falcon swooping in for a rabbit, bees sipping nectar, and butterflies floating toward flowers.

Yesterday I counted ten goldfinch in my cupplants.  The bees, so many different kinds I can’t name them, congregate on my swamp milkweed and cupplant flowers.  Soon they’ll have to move on to my asters because the cupplants are going to seed.  

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2014 Native Garden Tour Sponsors

Thank you to these businesses and organizations for sponsoring our first Native Garden Tour, co-presented with West Cook Wild Ones.                               

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See a list of all 2014 supporters