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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.

Green Home Experts – good for your family, good for the earth

Interview conducted by Sally Simmel with Maria Onesta Moran, owner of Green Home Experts

The blackboard in front of 823 South Oak Park Avenue screams “We Love Worms.” That’s enough to make you want to go in and see what is happening at Green Home Experts.

It wasn’t my first visit to the store, but the first time I actually had an appointment to talk with the owner, Maria Onesta Moran. As usual, Maria was buzzing around the store, talking with a contractor and then helping a customer find what she needed.

Seven-month-old Oscar, Maria’s son, was happily napping in his comfy carrier. It gave me a chance to walk around a little. There have been some changes in the store in the recent months, making it easy to view materials at a convenient counter and to check out products.

Even as we spoke Maria was unpacking some new supplies for the coming school year. There are all sorts of clever green lunch boxes, food containers and water bottles ready to go for children heading back to school this fall.

Oscar woke and we took turns holding him as we talked about Maria’s big adventure into the green retail world. She had been working in marketing and communications for a non-profit housing facility which provided supportive care in two certified LEED building. She and her husband were living in the W. Loop, setting up house, but not finding a variety of green home products in stores. That led her to see a niche that she might fill in terms of service to homeowners and builders committed to the environment.

So, in February of 2008 Green Home Experts appeared on Oak Park Avenue with a big selection of home, garden, and building supplies, baby and pet care products. If what you need isn’t in the store, Maria knows exactly where to look for it and will help with your choices.

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Green Connections Tour — discovering sustainable Oak Park & River Forest!

On Saturday, September 24, 1:00-4:00pm, Green Community Connections, along with other organizations will sponsor a self-guided tour of selected green sites in Oak Park and River Forest. The event is scheduled in conjunction with 350.org’s Moving Planet day,and is designed with cyclists and pedestrians in mind.   Public, commercial and residential destinations will showcase green buildings, sustainable landscaping, community gardening, urban chicken farming, biodiverse open space, and other features of sustainable, low-carbon community life. Each site will feature a tour or demonstration to introduce visitors to the story behind the initiative and how it contributes to sustainability in our community.

This is a great opportunity to showcase the great things that real people and organizations are doing already and exchange ideas for what we might want to try in the future.

Information on how to register for the event and get your map, site descriptions, and all the details will be coming soon.

If you have suggestions for sites to be included in the tour (including your own home, business, school, etc.), please contact us and let us know.

OP Congregation Breaks Ground on Geothermal HVAC System

Over 75 turned out Thursday (July 28, 4 PM)  for the groundbreaking at Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church to launch it’s installation of geothermal heating and cooling system for it’s facility located at Euclid & Washington Avenues in Oak Park.   The eco-friendly geothermal system will replace its aging boiler heating system and expand cooling to the entire building.  The loop field for the geothermal system will be installed under the church’s parking lot.  The current asphalt surface of the parking lot will then be replaced with permeable pavers.

Over the last year research and planning for this project proceeded with the help and support of Faith in Place, Interfaith Power & Light’s Cool Calculator Program, the congregation’s Green Action Task Force.   In opening remarks at the groundbreaking, Pastor Marti Scott said God smiles on those working to save the planet and surely God is smiling on this place today.   David Pope indicated that this church serves as an example for all the community.

The Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church congregation, currently numbering approximately 275 with many more friends in the community, will be 114 years old this November.  The current sanctuary dates to 1922; the present education wing to 1967.

Follow the progress of the geothermal and permeable brick projects on the Euclid Geothermal Blogspot

Related posts & articles:

Groundbreaking Idea at An Oak Park Church

VIDEO:  Church Breaks Ground on Geothermal System

Methodist Church will Break Ground on New Geothermal System



Climate Change May Threaten Survival of Some OP-RF Trees within 50 Years

Submitted by Lacey S. Brown, Urban Forester, Openlands

What if the weather in Oak Park became so hot and humid that you could not survive outside?  This could be an imminent reality for 18,000 residents of Oak Park: the public trees of our urban forest.  Trees that are given proper care can live one hundred years or more.  But trees that are suited to Oak Park’s climate in 2011 may not be able to survive in the Oak Park of even 50 years from now.

When the USDA issued its hardiness zone map in 2006, updated from its previous 1990 map, many states had shifted one hardiness zone warmer in just 15 years. Hardiness zones refer to the geographic area in which a given species of plant can survive the area’s lowest temperatures.   As illustrated in the May New York Times article A City Prepares for a Warm Long-Term Forecast by Leslie Kaufman, the City of Chicago is already preparing for a climate similar to that of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The City has removed six tree species from its planting list, including the white oak, and has added several species more common to Southern planting zones.

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Marion Street Cheese Market Chef Shares his Vision & Challenges

Article written by Ellen Lipo, OPRF HS Environmental Club based on an Interview with Marion Street Cheese Market Executive Chef, Leonard Hollander

In March, the Marion Street Cheese Market, located at 100 S. Marion Street in Oak Park, became a green-certified restaurant, receiving three out of four stars from the Green Restaurant Association. It is the only green-certified restaurant in Oak Park, and one of only a handful in the Chicago area. The rating is based on 60-70 categories, ranging from floor tile to composting. The rating given then translates to a number of stars.

One of the people responsible for achieving the level of sustainability that led to the certification is Leonard Hollander, the Cheese Market’s Executive Chef.   Mr. Hollander has worked at Marion Street Cheese Market for two years, and together with the owners, Eric Larson and Mary Jo Schuler, has helped create and maintain a green vision for the business. He said that the vision of having a restaurant that operates in as sustainable a manner as possible is something he shares with the owners, and they have since entrusted him to handle many of the food sourcing decisions and day-to-day supply issues of the restaurant.

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