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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.

Green Living: Enjoy the Birds, Bees & Butterflies on a Native Garden Tour

Purple bee balm

Photo courtesy of Debby Preiser.

Green Community Connections and West Cook Wild Ones will present the first-ever “Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour” on Sunday, September 7, 2014, from 2:00 to 4:30pm.  The tour concludes with a Native Garden Fair, from 4:00 to 5:30pm at the Forest Preserve District of Cook County located at the northwest corner of Lake and Harlem in River Forest.

The Birds, Bees & Butterflies garden tour will feature 11 Oak Park and River Forest home and public landscapes that showcase various ways of integrating native plants, including:  starter gardens, full-fledged prairie gardens, gardens designed to attract wildlife, those that harness rain water, and plants that invite children’s involvement in the garden. Unique plants for shade, sun, rain gardens, clay soil and other applications will also be highlighted.

A guided bike tour for a limited number of participants will be available.   Or design your own self-guided tour with family and friends on foot, by bike, or by car, rickshaw or other vehicle of your choice. A donation of $7 per adult is suggested to help cover costs.  Children are free.

Tour organizers want to encourage and support the rapidly growing interest in native plants and their important role in our ecosystem.  Here are 5 reasons to join the tour:

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Here comes the sun . . . Solar discount program reduces cost by 25%

SolarChicago Workshop:  Thursday, August 21, 2014, 7:00-8:30pm, Oak Park Main Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL  60301LEED Home - Solar

This program helps homeowners pool their buying power to make going solar more affordable than ever (25% off the average installed cost) while helping to achieve community clean energy installation goals.  Solar Chicago was undertaken by the City of Chicago (City), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Vote Solar, a non-profit organization working to bring solar energy into the mainstream.  This initiative is available to Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and other Cook County residents as well.

Learn more from the program contractors about the basics of residential solar and have your questions answered at the upcoming workshop:  Thursday, August 21, 2014, 7:00-8:30pm at the Oak Park Main Library, 834 Lake St, Oak Park, hosted by Green Community Connections, Seven Generations Ahead / PlanItGreen, and the Interfaith Green Network.  The workshop is free and open to the public.  If you are unable to attend, program details are on the Solar Chicago web site.  (http://www.mygroupenergy.com/group/solarchicago/news)

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Oak Park congregation reaches another milestone on its green journey

Euclid Solar installation 2014The Euclid Ave United Methodist Church Green Action Team got started shortly after the congregation hosted a showing of the film, “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2007.  Although only about 10 people attended that film screening, it provided inspiration for a broad congregational commitment to work toward reducing the ecological footprint of the building and its operations.

Looking back on the last 7 years, the Green Action Team has led Euclid to rack up an substantial set of accomplishments.  Highlights include:

  • In 2010, Euclid needed to replace its 40+ year-old boiler. With the help of a referral from Mac Robinet at St Edmonds Church, a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation, a supportive pastor and Trustees, and a congregation that got behind the capital campaign, Euclid installed a geothermal heating and cooling system that reduced its energy consumption by 81%.

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Elgin High School Students Hold National Biodiversity Teach-in 9/22-26

We here at GCC are inspired by a group of students from Elgin High School who are putting on a National Biodiversity Teach-in. The Teach-in is “virtual,” meaning the Elgin Biodiversity Teach In 2students are hosting a series of webinars with professionals from all over the country September 22 through 26, 2014. This project, “by students, for students,”  aims at raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity. http://nationalbiodiversityteachin.com/

Biodiversity…it’s a term that’s not used very much in the mass media, but it’s so important to our planet and our own species’ future. These kids recognize that, and want to help by putting on a virtual “teach-in” for other students at other schools. Their goal is for 10,000 students across the country to participate.

Their website says the students were inspired by the story of Martha, the last known living Passenger Pigeon who died on September 1st, 1914. The National Biodiversity Teach-In marks the 100th anniversary of Martha’s death.

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Eminent Climate Scientist Advocates 3-Part Strategy to Combat Global Warming

“Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting   intergenerational injustice.”                                                                                      — James Hansen, et al, Abstract of “Assessing Dangerous Climate Change

Let the above statement sink in for a moment. It was written by James Hansen, widely considered the world’s greatest climate scientist.  He has been researching globalhansen reflective warming since the 1970s, and has been raising the alarm since 1988, when he gave Congressional testimony.  In 2013 he ended his 46-year career at NASA to put all his energy into global warming organizing.  Bill McKibben said of Hansen:  “He’s done the most important science on the most important question there ever was.”

Recently, Dr. Hansen wrote an intriguing essay, “The Wheels of Justice,” which we would like to share with you. It is strong and actionable.  The essay outlines a three-front strategy required for success in the struggle to stabilize the planet.  The strategies are:

1.  Through the courts.  This front is less familiar to many. In his essay, he reports on a group called Our Children’s Trust, which has gone to court to fight for the right of young people and future generations to have a livable planet.  This group has also produced a series of short documentary films called “Stories of Trust,” several of which were shown in the 2013 One Earth Film Festival. Action Opportunities:  Contribute to the legal costs of Our Children’s Trust, and use the short films to engage the community about legal challenges to government inaction.

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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