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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.

Native Garden Tour Elicits ‘Oohs and Ahs’

Mary Ann DeBruin (far right) shows her native plants to Michelle Cronin. Mary Ann’s garden was one of 15 private and public native gardens on tour during peak season.

“Visitors loved seeing the goldfinches on the anise hyssop and cup plants, the monarchs landing on the swamp milkweed and bumblebees everywhere. There were literally ‘oohs and ahs,’” says garden host Adrian Fisher.  With Mother Nature’s cooperation, the Interfaith Green Network, Green Community Connections and West Cook Wild Ones hosted a successful “Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour” in Oak Park and River Forest on August 6.

One of the best things about the tour, Fisher and other garden hosts agree, was all the pollinators and birds that flitted about in the yard, putting on a fabulous demonstration about why gardening with native plants is so important and wonderful.

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Take Action: 2017 Environmental Scorecard

Representatives LaShawn Ford (8th District), Camille Lilly (78th District), and Chris Welch (7th District) received 100% ratings from the Illinois Environmental Council. Photos from ilga.gov.

It’s easy to get discouraged by anti-environment action happening on the federal level…but our state government is actually making a lot of progress in growing our Illinois clean energy industry, protecting our state wildlife, shaping our expanding local food industry and much more. Here in Illinois, there’s actually a lot to feel hopeful about. You can get a snapshot of legislative action in a newly published 2017 Environmental Scorecard, which evaluates individual Illinois state legislators on their environmental voting records. The Scorecard is created by the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC), a non-partisan organization promoting sound policies and environmental laws in Springfield.

Three of our state representatives received 100% ratings: Representative LaShawn Ford, Representative Camille Lilly, and Representative Chris Welch.

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Bike Walk Oak Park Meets Up

KK Tan/Shutterstock

Bike Walk Oak Park is a new, informal group that encourages and advocates biking, walking, and transit in Oak Park.

Guest Bill McKenna, Oak Park Village Engineer, will discuss progress and challenges identified by the group at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, at Oak Park Public Library, Main Branch, 834 Lake St., 1st Floor Community Room, in Oak Park.

Priorities and topics might include:

  • Bike Infrastructure
    • Bike lanes should be painted and well-marked
    • Need north-south biking artery (or two)
    • Execute on greenways in Bike Plan
    • Bike racks should be visible and plentiful
  • Sidewalks
    • Sidewalks are not friendly for walking (little space with poles, parking, outdoor cafes, etc)
    • Crosswalk lights are often not working

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A Tax We Hope No One Will Pay!


Editor’s note: Since the goal of the Oak Park single-use bag fee is to dramatically reduce the use of both paper and plastic single-use bags, we hope it is one that will rarely be applied.  Many are already using reusable bags, and plans are underway to ensure that those who need reusable bags will receive them when the single-use bag ordinance goes into effect.

The Village of Oak Park has unanimously passed an ordinance requiring stores over 5000 square feet to charge 10¢ a single-use bag. The new rule goes into effect on January 1, 2018, and will apply to both paper and plastic bags. The new 10¢ fee will be evenly split between the retailer and the Village, with the Village’s share earmarked for “environmental sustainability initiatives” which have yet to be named.

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A Shady Deal for Oak Park?

A rear view rendering of the proposed 1000 Lake Street building from the Albion Planned Development Application. The Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center is omitted.

The rumors are true: a developer is proposing to build an 18-story building on the south side of Austin Gardens, at 1000 Lake Street. In order to move forward, the builder – Albion – is asking the Oak Park Plan Commission to change the zoning on the lot, which allows only 8 stories. We need all hands on deck to understand the issues and get involved. Will you? Read more for a quick summary and 4 easy actions you can take.

What’s at stake? The developers claim the mixed-use building containing 265 luxury apartments and 9,500 square feet of retail will bring in tax revenue. Many residents and the Oak Park Park District feel the building will be extremely costly in ways we can’t fix once the project is up. They point to these problems:

  • The building will throw Austin Gardens into deep shade all winter. It will also shade the southeast corner of the park, hurting mature trees and plantings there.
  • It will cast a shadow on the rooftop solar panels of the $1 million environmental center we just built in Austin Gardens.
  • Higher winds are already whooshing down Forest Ave. due to the Vantage building. The Albion project will likely make them worse.
  • The charming, human-scale character of the downtown will be altered by yet another tall building.

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


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