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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.

Why Choose Native Trees & Shrubs for Your Yard?

Chickadee parents feed their young 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars, on average. Photo courtesy of Rodney Campbell/flickr.

Chickadee parents feed their young 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars, on average. Photo courtesy of Rodney Campbell/flickr.

Over the past week, I have been watching a pair of Downy Woodpeckers take care of their young. They are incredibly dedicated. They are up early in the morning flying back and forth to bring food to their babies, who never stop peeping, and they are still at it in the evening. They also have to worry about a squirrel that seems interested in their nest, and they expend a lot of energy protecting their babies from this marauder.

A Different Bird Feeder

Until now I have never had the experience of actually watching parent birds at work, though I had learned from Doug Tallamy, scientist and author of Bringing Nature Home, just how important insects, particularly caterpillars, are for parent birds. He tells us that 96% of bird species feed their young solely insects, mostly comprised of caterpillars because they are easy to eat and contain the right amount of fat and protein. In his amazing, must-read article, The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening Tallamy tells us that a pair of chickadees feed their babies 6,000-9,000 caterpillars for a single clutch. The Downy Woodpeckers most likely would need to find even more insects to feed their babies.

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Audubon: Bird Lovers Flocking to the Cause on Climate Change

The Piping Plover is on the list of Illinois Endagered and Threatened Animals and Plants. Photo courtesy of Shanthanu Bhadwaj/flickr.

The Piping Plover is endangered in Illinois. Photo courtesy of Shanthanu Bhadwaj/flickr.

The following is an excerpt reprinted, with permission, from Citizens’ Climate Lobby News 7/13/16.

An unprecedented rate of extinction

Over the last 60 years, Audubon Society members have not only been dedicated bird watchers, but also citizen scientists, collecting data on bird sightings and activity. Audubon’s scientists have used that wealth of data and top climate models to put together a sort of “field guide of the future,” based on the birds’ ideal climatic ranges and how those would shift due to expected greenhouse gas emissions.

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How to Make Friends and Influence People in an Age of Climate Change

Green Guide Dick Alton (behind the camera) brought together his block for a tour of their native and edible gardens.

Green Guide Dick Alton (behind the camera) brought his block together for a tour of their native and edible gardens.

How many neighbors do you know? If you’re the average American, maybe not too many. Recent studies have shown that loneliness is on the rise across the country. A 2014 study showed that more than 1 in 4 Americans have no one to talk to when they feel sad, or even when they feel happy.

At the same time, climate change is relentlessly grinding forward. Governments are struggling to implement meaningful policies, leaving citizens to shoulder the burden. As with most endeavors, individual efforts can only go so far. But when community members share ideas, progress comes much more quickly.

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Sugar Beet: from Red to Black in Less Than a Year

Stocking clerk John Smith, General Manager Chris Roland, and Marketing Director Lissa Dysart convene in the deli aisle.

Team Member Isaiah Swan  (yes, he has blue hair), General Manager Chris Roland, and Marketing Director Lissa Dysart convene in the deli aisle.

Sugar Beet Food Co-op’s first birthday party, dubbed “Kale Yeah,” will take place the weekend of July 30-31, with tastings, raffles, giveaways, games, and more from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., at 812 W. Madison St., in Oak Park.

Recently, we talked with General Manager, Chris Roland, to get a reading on the downs and ups of this small grocery store’s first year selling local, sustainable food.

Challenges and Solutions

Sugar Beet Food Co-op opened its doors on July 31, 2015. Not far away, Pete’s Fresh Market opened one month later. “So our honeymoon period was really quick,” Chris explained. “That was one of our biggest challenges. Pete’s sort of stunted things a little bit.”

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We Need a Better Gauge for Economic Development



Reprinted, with permission, from the Wednesday Journal Opinion Letters to the Editor 6/15/16.

I attended the June 1 town hall meeting on development in the village, and I agree with your observation [Madison Street plan draws supporters, detractors, News,June 8] that the bulk of the discussion was about the effect of the Madison Street plan on traffic patterns.

Looking at the big picture, it appears that this proposed development is similar to the pattern established by the other “mixed use” projects at Lake and Forest, Lake and Harlem, Harlem and South Blvd., and the Tasty Dog site — retail space on the ground floor, some parking, topped with multiple floors of high-end or luxury residential space.

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