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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.

Meet Mindy Agnew: Oak Park’s New Sustainability Coordinator


In mid-November, Mindy Agnew took on the role as Oak Park’s new sustainability coordinator, stepping into a post that had been vacant for more than three and a half years.

Mindy’s sustainability pedigree is already well established in Oak Park. She was a member of the team that guided District 97 to incorporate zero waste programs in the schools, beginning in 2008. Since that time, composting, recycling, and zero waste lunches have become commonplace throughout the Oak Park educational system.

She recalls: “It involved the green committees and the PTOs and the school administration, the principals. We are blessed with local community support on zero waste schools from Seven Generations Ahead. That’s why I like to say there are a lot of ‘Mindies’ running around Oak Park! It’s not just me doing this kind of work.”

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Young Filmmakers Workshops Expand

Stop-Motion Animation Workshop at Namaste Charter School in Chicago.

This year, the One Earth Film Festival expanded its Young Filmmakers Workshops, reaching out to new communities and groups, collaborating with a variety of teachers and organizations. Students learned about live-action as well as animation from filmmaking professionals and technical experts.

One parent emailed us after our December 10 workshop saying, “My son really enjoyed the Young Filmmakers Workshop today. He’s been making movies on his iPad since he returned. He’s interested in taking another class. Will you be offering another one soon?”

Stop-Motion Animation Workshop for Grade 6 (outreach)
Date: Oct. 20
Location: Namaste Charter School in Chicago
Teacher: Jonathan Moeller
Number of participants: 16
Collaborator: Steve & Kate’s Camp provided iPads and software

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12 Months of Sustainability


Consider these gifts to Planet Earth for each month of 2018.

January – Take your reusable bags to the market (donate extra reusable bags to the Give a Bag / Take a Bag program).

February – Plan your native and/or edible garden.

March – Attend the One Earth Film Festival.

April – Celebrate Earth Month. Celebrate Earth Day on 4/22 by doing a beach clean up or natural area clean up. Plant a tree on Arbor Day 4/27.

May – Plant your native and/or edible garden.

June – If you live in OP/RF, sign up for the village’s CompostAbles program. If not, investigate compost pick up programs that will pick up your food scraps and return with valuable compost.

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Community Solar Rises and Shines


Solar energy deployment is getting super charged on Chicago’s near west side, thanks to a community-based program called PlanItGreen: Solar in Your Community. The program is developing a pipeline of community solar projects to meet the renewable energy goal in Oak Park and River Forest’s PlanItGreen sustainability plan: achieve 25% renewable energy procurement by 2020.

“The PlanItGreen: Solar in Your Community initiative will lay the groundwork for a future utility-scale project toward meeting our renewable energy goal targets,” says Gary Cuneen, Executive Director of Seven Generations Ahead which provides leadership for this project. PlanItGreen is the Environmental Sustainability initiative of Communityworks, an Endowment Fund of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 50% of Americans are not candidates for rooftop solar electricity. The reasons range from financial to logistical.  “Oak Park and River Forest is a very built-up area,” says Mark Burger, Renewable Energy Consultant with Seven Generations Ahead. “We won’t be able to get a significant percentage of our electricity from within our boundaries. Many households don’t own their roofs, as in the case of renters or even condo owners. Or they live in places with a lot of shading from trees or other buildings. That’s where community solar is an important component.”

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Cities, Universities, Businesses and Communities aren’t Waiting


As world leaders gather in Bonn, Germany, for the first UN Climate Change Conference since the Trump Administration pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, it is clear from the surge of climate change conferences and events in the Chicago region that cities and local government entities, universities, community organizations and businesses are moving forward to take action on climate change and to activate their constituencies to do the same.

Looking for ways for you, your family or your business can get involved in local climate change fighting efforts? Here are some recent and upcoming events. Attend one and let us know what you learned, or tag us on social media:

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