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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.

Oak Park Bag Share Project

Vasiliy Ptitsyn/Shutterstock

With Oak Park’s single-use bag tax taking effect on January 1, 2018, now is a great time to make carrying reusable bags a habit.

Over the next few months, Green Community Connections will be launching a bag share project. If you have extra reusable bags, you will be able to leave them at one of the bag locations. If you need a bag, or you’re out and about and realize you’ve forgotten yours, you can swing by a bag location and grab a one.

Green Community Connections is currently accepting bag donations from individuals and organizations, and bags can be picked up or delivered. Contact Carolyn [carolyn@greencommunityconnections.org] to schedule a pick up or drop off.

We are also seeking local partners to host bag sites. If you’re affiliated with an Oak Park organization that might be interested in hosting a bag tree or bag bin, contact Carolyn [carolyn@greencommunityconnections.org].

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Alternative Gifts (Ho, Ho, Ho)

Photo by JTimelapse/Storyblocks

It’s easy to get pulled into the consumer frenzy during the upcoming holidays. Rethink your approach by making or purchasing hand-crafted products. Or donate to important causes in honor of friends and family. These are a few of our favorite things:

Green Gifting Workshop
Sip on some cider or cocoa, as you make one of a kind gifts that are friendly to the environment from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Austin Gardens Environmental Center, 167 Forest, in Oak Park. Each participant will make 4 gifts to take home. Cost is $50 for residents and $75 for non-residents. Register here.

SoKind Registry
SoKind is a registry service that encourages the giving of homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand goods, experiences, time, day-of-event help, and more. Less stuff, more fun!

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Happy News! Together We are Making a Difference for Monarchs!

Monarch by William Warby/Wikimedia Commons.

Oak Park resident, Gina Orlando, recently shared the happy news that she saw at least 10 monarchs at the same time on a patch of the swamp/rose milkweed at Mills Park.

“Their playfulness and beauty are a joy,” Orlando said. “It was wonderful to see!  And it’s hopeful. They are coming back.”

After the monarch population decreased by 90 percent in the last 20 years, due to climate change, pesticides, and habitat loss, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service set a goal that 225 million monarchs will be back by 2020.

Within the past year, the mayors of Oak Park and River Forest both signed the Mayors for Monarchs pledge through the National Wildlife Federation, which is a commitment to provide a healthy habitat for monarch butterflies and to encourage citizens to do the same. The Village of Oak Park planted 260 milkweed and nectar plants in the spring at Village Hall, Public Works, the Central Fire Station, and various traffic diverters and cul-de-sacs, said Rob Sproule, superintendent of forestry. Monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed, and nectar plants are needed so that monarchs have the energy to migrate to Mexico and the weight to get through hibernation.

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Montel the Sea Turtle Survives Hurricane Irma

A black cloud seemed to hover over Montel until Hurricane Irma blew away his hard luck.

You may remember a story we told you in May, about a 170-pound green sea turtle named Montel. He was the victim of a series of accidents involving a fishing line, a shark, and boat before he was rescued by The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. Missing his front left flipper, part of his front right flipper, and his right eye, Montel soldiered on after treatment but was never released because his chance of survival in the ocean was minimal.

Our interest in Montel started when Jaxon and Miles Toppen of Roosevelt Middle School in River Forest won the elementary/middle school prize in our 2017 Young Filmmakers Contest. Their film, “Shells in Need of Saving,” detailed The Turtle Hospital’s rescue and rehabilitation of two different turtles, Thurston and Agape, with whom they became acquainted while on vacation in the Florida Keys last winter.

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Youth Learn Leadership via Gardening

“I Can Fly” summer youth cohort with mentors in the Harambee Garden.

This summer a new youth leadership program gave a cohort of Chicago teens a safe and nurturing environment to learn lessons that enriched their lives, as well as the neighborhood where they live. During July, teens in the “I Can Fly” Youth Leadership Program focused on the richness of the soil, not the economic poverty around them; the sweet fruits of labor, not the bitterness of systematic discrimination. They learned art — culinary and fine – as well as the art of negotiation, compromise and hard work. They learned to trust in their own leadership power as well as a higher power. The program was punctuated by a rich Speaker Series and four engaging field trips, but mainly the teens learned about these issues while building butterfly habitat, staking tomato plants, and pulling herbs and greens for alfresco lunches in the garden.

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