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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 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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Fall 2011 TreeKeepers Classes begin September 10th

Forest trees can live for over 100 years, but urban trees, forced to contend with pollution and limited space for growth, usually survive for only about fifteen years unless they receive special attention—approximately 1,000 trees die in Chicago every year due to neglect. That’s why, since 1991, TreeKeepers have worked throughout the city to keep its trees healthy, administering proper care and promptly recognizing and reporting harmful pests, such as the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle from Asia that targets and kills ash trees.

Fall 2011 TreeKeepers classes begin September 10, at the American Indian Center, 1630 West Wilson Avenue, in Chicago. For complete information on the classes, and to view and download a copy of the Fall 2011 TreeKeepers brochure go to the Openlands website.

Participants in the seven-week program meet every Saturday morning for three hours of hands-on instruction in topics that include basic tree planting and care, species identification, and how to recognize diseases and pests. A low fee of $100 covers the cost of class materials. Financial assistance is available. Classes are taught by professionals from Bartlett Tree Experts, The Care of Trees, Chicago Bureau of Forestry, Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Environment, and the Morton Arboretum, as well as other expert arborists. After completing the coursework, TreeKeeper trainees must pass field tests and a final exam—some institutions grant college credit for the class.

TreeKeepers classes are sponsored by Openlands.  Founded in 1963, Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives.

In addition to conserving land and waterways, Openlands conducts thoughtful research, advocates for sound conservation policies, and helps individuals and communities care for their open spaces.

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