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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.

Getting Our Gardens Ready for Spring!

As I’m writing this, the birds are chirping, the snowdrops are up, and it’s going to be 60 today. The gardening bug is biting! (The bug bites me all year round, but that may be just me.)

Let’s start thinking of how to get our gardens ready for spring.

As hard as it is, it’s best to wait until our gardens are good and dry before working and walking in them. Especially in our clay soils, walking in wet gardens just compresses the soil and makes it harder to work with later. To see if the soil is dry enough, take a handful of soil from a few inches deep and squeeze it in your hand. If it doesn’t crumble but stays in a ball, the soil is probably still too wet.

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Congregations Gather for Interfaith Green Summit

As part of the ongoing process of developing a Sustainability Vision Plan for Oak Park and River Forest, 65 people from 17 congregations of Oak Park and River Forest gathered on the evening of February 17th at the Oak Park Library to discuss the draft plan and explore ideas for how congregations can work toward implementation.

Gary Cuneen of Seven Generations Ahead and Donna Ducharme of The Delta Institute gave a brief presentation on the draft PlanItGreen Sustainability Plan for Oak Park and River Forest.  PlanItGreen is a project of the Oak Park – River Forest Community Foundation’s CommunityWorks initiative.  The current draft plan grew out of a baseline study, survey input from almost 1,000 community members and a community wide input forum and 9 topic area meetings.

Participants in the Interfaith Green Summit met in cross-congregation groups focused on 7 of the 9 Topic Areas addressed in the sustainability plan.  Groups were asked to identify strategies that were most relevant to congregations and ways that congregations could make an impact.  Sample strategies discussed included:

  • Waste:  Work with village to regulate waste from businesses – plastic bags, Styrofoam
  • Open Space & Ecosystem Preservation:  Educate on how to have a great lawn without hazardous chemicals.
  • Energy:  Support for energy efficiency programs
  • Transportation:  Promote alternatives to “short trips”
  • Education:  Create one community/congregation education campaign focus every year that promotes a particular strategy or topic area (e.g., composting)
  • Food:  Education and skill-sharing through newsletters, web, classes, recipes
  • Water:  Reduce runoff by building permeable parking lots, rainwater collection and planting native plants

Finally, representatives from each congregation gathered and identified initiatives that they would move forward in the coming 3-6 months.  Samples initiatives that congregations plan to work on include:  sponsor a CSA pick-up site; publish “Green Tips” for families in the newsletter; conduct an energy audit of congregation buildings; plant raised bed garden on church grounds; conduct capital campaign to fund geothermal heating & cooling; develop Zero Waste Manual for congregation; work on sustainability curriculum for school; and reduce car traffic.

The group decided to meet again in 3 months to check in and share experiences and resources.  All Oak Park – River Forest area congregations are invited!  For more information, contact Sally Stovall at sallystovall@gmail.com or 773-315-1109.

Interfaith Green Summit Participating Congregations:

Ascension Catholic Church, Calvary Memorial, Euclid Avenue United Methodist, Fair Oaks Presbyterian, First United Church of Oak Park, First United Methodist, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Grace Lutheran, Oak Park Friends Meeting, Oak Park Temple, River Forest United Methodist, St Christopher Episcopal, St Edmunds Catholic, St Giles Catholic, Unity Church of Oak Park, Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, West Suburban Temple Har Zion

Top 10 Reasons to Raise Chickens

Why raise chickens? – by Jennifer Murtoff

Well, being a chicken fancier, I’d say the answer is obvious. But if you need some convincing—better yet, if your spouse/significant other/parents need some convincing!—here’s my list of answers to that question.

  1. Eggs.
  2. Education.
  3. Health.
  4. Self-Sufficiency.
  5. Animal Welfare.
  6. Composting.
  7. Poop.
  8. Personality.
  9. Simplicity.
  10. Fun.

For great descriptions of each reason and links to related links go to Home to Roost.

 

OPRF Environmental Club is Multitasking!

The OPRF Environmental Club has been more than busy this year. The precedent was set last year, when we organized a march on October 24, 2009 to coincide with thousands of others across the globe. The whole thing was the brainchild of 350.org. Last fall, 350.org followed up its marches by organizing thousands of global “work parties” for the climate. We held our own work party, where we transplanted plants to clear ground for our urban garden.

The garden is by far our biggest project this year. It started as a far-off dream and now is in full swing. First, we measured the space and had a professional architect, the dad of Co-President Isabelle Neylan, design plans for the garden. We collectively decided that raised beds with stone walls would be the most appealing and long-lasting. Of course, our garden was organic from the get-go.

The amount of bricks our garden will require is hefty, but we received a generous grant of 3-4 pallets of bricks out of the 10 that we need. Also, the seeds were paid for by the OPRF Food Service. We will be partnering with them to further healthy and environmental initiatives in the cafeteria.

The Environmental Club is also responsible for the vast majority of paper recycling in the school. Each Wednesday we walk around the school with bins and collect paper to be recycled. We dump in it a bin that gives the school a small amount of money for each ton of paper.

Other activities of the club include an annual lightbulb exchange, where we give out free CFLs for incandescent bulbs that people bring in.   Also, we are hosting the game “coin wars,” as a way to collect money to build a well in Africa. The game is designed as a war between high school classes, where coins add points to your class and dollars subtract points from the other classes.

The Environmental Club engages in activities of which the fruition is later. For example, last year, we testified at an EPA public comment hearing. Two of our club members gave short speeches while others held up signs behind them, encouraging the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which would give the organization greater power than it has ever had. This year, the EPA announced that it will regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which is something that we as a club can point to say, “We helped that.”

For groups or individuals seeking to contact us, our club sponsor’s email is cmcguckin@oprfhs.org.  She will relay any emails to the student club leadership. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any reason. We are looking forward to making more community connections in the coming years. Submitted by Owen Brady

Food: Six Things to Feel Good About

Excerpts from Mark Bittman’s NY Times Opinionator blog on “food and all things related”, March 22, 2011

The great American writer, thinker and farmer Wendell Berry recently said, “You can’t be a critic by simply being a griper . . . One has also to . . . search out the examples of good work.”

I’ve griped for weeks, and no doubt I’ll get back to it, but there are bright spots on our food landscape, hopeful trends, even movements, of which we can be proud. Here are six examples.

Not just awareness, but power | Everyone talks about food policy, but as advocates of change become more politically potent we’re finally seeing more done about it. . .

Moving beyond greenwashing | Michelle Obama’s recent alliance with Wal-Mart made even more headlines than the retailer’s plan to re-regionalize its food distribution network, which is if anything more significant. The world’s biggest retailer pledged to “double sales of locally sourced produce,” reduce in-store food waste, work with farmers on crop selection and sustainable practices, and encourage — or is that “force”? — suppliers to reconfigure processed foods into “healthier” forms. . .

Real food is spreading | There are now more than 6,000 farmers markets nationwide — about a 250 percent increase since 1994 (significant: there are half as many as there are domestic McDonald’s), and 900 of them are open during the winter. . . .

We’re not just buying, we’re growing | Urban agriculture is on the rise. If you’re smirking, let me remind you that in 1943, 20 million households (three-fifths of the population at that point) grew more than 40 percent of all the vegetables we ate. City governments are catching on, changing zoning codes and policies to make them more ag-friendly, . . .

Farming is becoming hip | The number of farms is at last increasing, although it’s no secret that farmers are an endangered species:  . . . But efforts by nonprofits like the eagerly awaited FoodCorps and The Greenhorns, both of which aim to introduce farming to a new generation of young people, are giving farming a new cachet of cool. . . .

The edible school lunch | The school lunch may have more potential positive influences than anything else, and we’re beginning to see it realized. . . . There are scores of other examples, and we’re finally seeing schools rethinking the model of how their food is sourced, cooked and served, while getting kids to eat vegetables. That’s good work. . . .

For the complete article click here.

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

    

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