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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.

Become a Certified TreeKeeper


This summer, Openlands will offer The TreeKeepers Program, a series of classes, at Austin Gardens Environmental Center, 167 Forest Ave., in Oak Park. Classes will be taught by world-renowned experts covering topics such as physiology, soils, pruning, planting, and mulching and will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. throughout the month of June.

In order to obtain certification, students must attend all 8 classes (June 1, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, and 27), complete field tests, pass a written exam on tree care, promise to volunteer 25 hours within a year after graduation from the course, and adopt public trees in a park or on a parkway.

The TreeKeepers course is $128 (scholarships available). This includes a TreeKeepers manual, safety glasses, certificate, badge, and T-shirt. Participants will not only have a chance to learn how to care for trees, they will also connect with leaders in Chicago’s conservation community and the green volunteer community.

For more information, email treekeepers@openlands.org or visit www.openlands.org/treekeepers.


Marches in April and May

A Katz/Shutterstock

Lace up your walking shoes and get ready to march for 3 important causes:  Science, Climate, and Labor. As some of these issues come under threat, your voice and presence is ever more crucial. Choose 1, 2, or all 3 marches to put our democratic principles into action.

March for Science
Saturday, April 22

10 a.m. Rally near Congress and Columbus
11 a.m. to 12 p.m. March to Museum Campus
12-3 p.m. Science Expo with Exhibitors

This march emphasizes science as a method to uncover the truth. The role of science in government, the media, and public policy must to be safeguarded. Marchers are considered “guardians of science.”  More here.

People’s Climate March
Saturday, April 29

12 p.m. at Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn St.

Prioritizing people and planet above corporate polluters is the theme here. Marches will take place simultaneously at cities across the country, including Washington, DC, telling our elected leaders to take climate change seriously. Thousands are expected to participate nationally. RSVP here.

May Day March
Monday, May 1
1 p.m. Rally at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St.
4 p.m. Ends with a Rally at Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn St.

This march commemorates the volatile workers movement that pushed for an 8-hour work day back in 1886. The rights of workers today are still the theme and particularly the plight of immigrant workers. More here.

School Garden Symposium

Build a Park, Not a Tower


An Opinion Piece by Adrian Fisher

The Oak Park Comprehensive Plan recommends finding more open space. The Park District of Oak Park Master Plan states that opportunities should be sought to increase park space. The Oak Park-River Forest Sustainability Plan includes the goal of increasing green space and green infrastructure in the villages.

Yet, Oak Park is in danger of destroying one of our most precious open-spaces and historic treasures: Austin Gardens. The 21-story Vantage Oak Park already casts long morning shadows where there were none before. Now a developer interested in the property at 1000 Lake wants a zoning variance to build another tall building. This might be good for Albion. However, for Oak Park residents, the long-term results would be diminished quality of life and a ruined park. Trees, some over 100 years old, would be in danger of dying. The village as a whole would lose.

There’s a better idea. The Village, possibly in partnership with the Park District and other entities, should purchase the land and build a park. This would have several advantages beyond the admirable ones of beauty and delight. A park would enhance the Lake Street streetscape, provide a gateway to Austin Gardens and the Frank Lloyd Wright district beyond, and possibly increase surrounding property values. A multifunctional park would add to the district’s livability, improve quality of life, and provide a welcoming atmosphere for locals and the many visitors arriving each year.

What might this urban oasis be like? Benches, tables and chairs would attract people to meet, eat lunch, and relax. Sustainability and green infrastructure features could include a sunshelter–roofed with solar panels–over part of the area, a rain garden featuring flowering native plants, and well-placed native trees. The park would provide welcome habitat for humans, birds and pollinators alike, while feeding clean power into the grid and helping manage stormwater.

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Mobilizing to Increase Monarch Habitat

“North American monarch butterflies are in trouble. Threats, including climate change, pesticide use and habitat loss are having a devastating impact on their populations.  Unless we act now to help the Monarch, this amazing animal could disappear in our lifetime.”  — US Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating the status of the monarch butterfly for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Faced with the possibility of extinction of this beloved species, communities locally and nationally are mobilizing to increase monarch habitat.  That’s where Oak Park and River Forest come in.  It turns out that urban and suburban areas are the monarch’s best hope for survival.

To build awareness and engage the public, a core group of partners is hosting a campaign kick-off with two community gatherings at the Oak Park Main Library on Tues., Jan. 31, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.  The organizing group includes West Cook Wild Ones, River Forest Sustainability Committee, Seven Generations Ahead, the Green Guides Network (a project of PlanItGreen) and Green Community Connections.  This event is free and open to the public.

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


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