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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.

Your Bucket List: Birding with Henry

Henry helps two young birders find a Bobolink perched in the meadow.

Some teens post on Instagram or tweet on Twitter. Henry Griffin also tweets…to real, actual birds. The Oak Park 17-year-old has become locally famous for leading bird walks during spring and fall migration seasons. He has been birding since a Cooper’s Hawk flew into his backyard in 2012, when he was 11 years old.

“Birding is a hobby for me,” says Henry, a high school junior and singer who hopes to study classic voice in college. “There’s a connection between my singing and birding. I consider myself one of the more advanced birders I know as far as identifying birds by sound. I have relative pitch. If I am given a note, I can sing you any note in relation to that note.”

On May 21, I attended Henry’s bird walk – my first ever – with 18 other adults and kids in Miller Meadow Forest Preserve across from Loyola Hospital in Maywood. We took a 1.2 mile hike through a variety of habitat, including forest, meadow and savanna. Throughout the walk, occasionally Henry would chirp at the woods if he felt like he was on the trail of an interesting bird. Less frequently, he would play a bird song from his iPad to entice a bird to sing back.

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Tag Your Trees This Summer


As the lemony leaves of local trees blossom into a robust, dark green, we enjoy the aesthetic and spiritual benefits of ambling under this canopy.

But there are also scientific advantages to this glorious arbor. Morton Arboretum encourages Tree Tagging in order to understand the quantifiable benefits for each and every tree, both environmentally and monetarily.

Enhance your summer block parties by Tree Tagging, a fun and educational group/family activity.

  • First, track down your block’s tree inventory, if available. Look for Oak Park’s at http://www.oak-park.us. Search for “tree inventory.”
  • Make a list of all the trees on your block with species and diameter. If an inventory is not available already, then search online to identify each tree, or get “Fandex Family Field Guides: Trees.” Diameter should be measured 4.5 feet above the ground.

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Add Green to Your Block Party


Green Events for your block party help build stronger relationships between the people and nature on your block!

Host a presentation with Q&A and Show&Tell:

  • Composting & Vermicomposting
  • Butterfly Gardening
  • Edible Gardening
  • Organic Lawn Care

Steps to Schedule a Green Event for your Block Party:

  • Complete the village block party application.
  • After your date is confirmed, select one of the Green Block Party activities listed above. Complete the village’s Green Block Party Request Form.

If you are planning a DIY green-themed activity for your block party please let us know so we can give you credit and share your ideas.

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Free Sustainable Food Class for High School Students

A free sustainable food class for high school students will run throughout the summer from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays from June 8 to July 27, at Triton College in River Grove. Faculty and community gardeners from Triton’s Horticulture/Sustainable Agriculture department will teach the class by utilizing a new greenhouse and garden on the east side of 5th Avenue.

This free series of workshops runs under a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and will help students better understand where our food comes from and why we need to protect the source of our food supplies.

Registration is limited. To enroll, please contact the School of Continuing Education at 708-456-0300, Ext. 3500. For all other questions about the program, please contact 708-456-3500, Ext. 3395.

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.


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


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