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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.

Origins of Oak Park’s Earth Fest & Plans for 2011

In 2009 on a cold Saturday morning, several hundred Oak Parkers gathered for a 350.org rally. It was October 24th, half way to Earth Day. After a successful march and rally, I was chatting with Karen Rozmus and K.C. Poulos. Karen is Waste Coordinator at Public Works and K.C. is the Village’s Sustainability Manager. Their titles don’t even begin to describe all of the hard work they do to keep our village green! As we were talking, I remarked that I found it odd that a village with as many sustainability initiatives as Oak Park doesn’t have a village-wide celebration of Earth Day.  If I’d kept my mouth shut, I’d have a lot more free time in April!

The saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy woman,” rang true at that moment. The three of us almost immediately began planning Earth Fest 2010, which was successfully help on April 24, 2010 at our Public Works building—the only LEED certified building of its kind in the U.S. This year, we decided to have the event in May so it could be held in conjunction with Oak Park ’s Public Works Day. We are also going to have Earth Fest outdoors this year, so let’s hope that Mother Nature will smile down on us with lots of sunshine.

We expect to have about 50 vendors this year, which is much larger than last year. Adoptable animals from the Animal Care League will be there. Learn about keeping chickens in your yard, edible landscapes and native landscaping too. Renewable energy and weatherization contractors, energy auditors and architects will be on hand to answer all of your home energy questions. Bring the kids to learn about recycling, play games and enjoy live music! Wonder Works Museum and others will be there to get us moving and feeling fit!

I hope you will join me at Earth Fest 2011. Be sure to ride your bike—we’ll have spring bike tune-ups! Or you can walk there and ask Rickshaw Rick for a ride home! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Earth Fest—a celebration of sustainability!

Maria Onesto Moran

Green Home Experts823 S. Oak Park Ave.

Oak Park, IL 60304


Marion Street Cheese Market Earns 3-Star Green Rating

Excerpt from the Earth Day Edition of the Marion Street Cheese Market “Cheese Mail – WineMail – Beer Mail” Newsletter, April 21, 2011.
“Marion Street Cheese Market is very excited to be able to officially announce that we are now a 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association.
We are the first restaurant in Oak Park to be certified as a Green Restaurant and one of only three restaurants in Chicagoland to earn 3 stars.  The only others are Uncommon Ground and Frontera Grill.   We are in very good company.
Since we opened our doors in 2004, Marion Street Cheese Market has been strongly focused on sustainability and local food issues.  We have always been an American artisan-centric cheese shop that has had a mission of supporting small, local  independent cheesemakers, family farmers and food artisans.
When Mary Jo Schuler and I opened the expanded MSCM with a bistro and wine bar in July 2008, we had a primary mission of being a green and sustainably run business  throughout our operation.  That is not always an easy thing in the restaurant world.  But we were committed to it and have relentlessly worked toward that goal ever since.  From the original design of the our new location to the choice of purveyours that we use to purchase food, our focus has always been on local, sustainable and seasonal.

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Leaders’ Training for “Just Eating: Practicing our Faith at the Table”

Leaders’ Training – “Just Eating: Practicing our Faith at the Table”

Saturday, May 14; 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, lunch included.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 611 Randolph St, Oak Park

Just Eating: Practicing Our Faith at the Table is a 7-session curriculum for congregational discussion groups exploring the links between the way we eat and the way we live.  Scripture, prayer, and stories from our local and global community are woven together to explore four key aspects of our relationship with food:

  • The health of our bodies
  • The challenge of hunger
  • The health of the earth that provides our food
  • The ways we use food to extend hospitality and enrich relationships.

Representatives from all congregations are welcome.  Each attendee receives “Just Eating” materials, including a Leaders’ Guide, Readings for Action and Reflection, and an adaptation for Middle School students. The Just Eating Curriculum is a collaboration of Advocate Health Care, Church World Service, and Presbyterian Hunger Program.  To register, email Jessica.TheCenter@gmail.com /call 847-384-3528

Recycling with Roz!

Recycling with Roz  Karen Rozmus, Oak Park’s Waste Reduction Manager shares tips on recycling including tips on plastic bottle caps and take-out containers in this 2 minute video.  Also, if you have additional questions, you can call Karen at 708-358-5700 or email her at rozmus@oak-park.us.

We are big recyclers at my house, but I still have questions . . . like

  • Can waxed milk and juice containers be recycled? . . . especially the ones with the plastic caps built into them?
  • Regarding take-out containers — since few are completely recyclable I know we should take our own containers, but does anyone really do that?  If so, how do you remember to take them?
  • What ideas do you have about reducing the packaging that we bring home in the first place??

Let us know your questions and comments below in the reply section!

Imagination and Commitment to the Environment Reflected in Horigan Urban Forest Products

Black walnut flooring from the urban forest

Submitted by Sue Crothers, River Forest

Horigan Urban Forest Products takes fallen trees in local Chicagland area and kilns them, so that one can purchase lumber for anything from floors to furniture.  Many trees come down around town due to storms or construction and it’s a great way for environmentally conscious people to use slow growing woods such as walnut or maple without having to feel guilty about cutting down a precious slow growth tree.

I have two items in my home which I purchased the wood from Bruce Horigan.  I have a lovely walnut table from a locally felled tree (I would NEVER otherwise even consider walnut) And an even better item in my home is my bed.  Made from an oak tree that came down on my property during one of our big storms.  I had Bruce come and collect, cut and kiln it and then a carpenter made it into my bed.  It is wonderful way to recycle.  See below information from their web site and an invitation below to see their April Newsletter.

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Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors from the One Earth Film Festival.