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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.

Power Shift 2011 – 10,000 Gather in DC for Youth Conference on Clean Energy & Climate Change

Post Submitted by Dan Nicklebein, OPRF HS Class of 2010

As I get off the bus at the corner of 7th and M Street, I feel the excitement beginning to build in the air around me. I see dozens of other young people hurrying in and out of the crowded building, all wearing green lanyards. The rest of my fellow Macalester students pick up their belongings, and the 31 of us quickly get in line inside the Washington D.C. Convention Center. The mood inside the Convention Center is electric, as thousands of other passionate young people prepare to listen to Al Gore, Van Jones, and other dynamic environmental leaders. As I wait in line to register, I can’t help but feel energized as I see countless other students ready to learn, listen, and engage in ways to help fight climate change. This is Power Shift, the world’s largest youth conference on clean energy and climate change, where I am just one of 10,000 other young people interested in helping shape our future. We are the generation that will be most affected by climate change, and I am thrilled to see some many people my age interested in the development of clean energy.

As excited as I was for Power Shift to begin, I couldn’t help but feel relief as well. At Macalester, I was one of the campus coordinators that helped organize for and promote Power Shift on our campus. Getting 31 students to drop everything and take a 22 hour bus ride to Washington DC was somewhat of a difficult sell, but our campus is generally active in dealing with climate and energy issues. My fellow campus coordinators and I ended up raising $6,000 to cover the bus and food costs for us while we would be in DC.

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What Is Fracking — and Why It Matters


Recently, there has been a good deal of news about “fracking”, a method of producing natural gas.  Fracking – short for hydraulic fracturing – is a major reason why natural gas prices and heating bills have been relatively low in recent years.  And it seems likely to grow hugely in the near future.


There are some big, obvious advantages to fracking – and on the other hand, some major problems, not all of them so easy to see.




Fracking is a method of getting natural gas out of underground formations where it is trapped in layers of rock, frequently shale.  Water with a mix of various chemicals, some of them toxic, and many of them secret, is injected under high pressure to fracture the rocks and release the natural gas.  Then the drillers capture the released gas – as much as they can – and ship it out to burn for electricity or to heat our homes.


There is a lot of gas in shale in our country.  In particular, the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations under New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia has trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.  The US Energy Information Administration has raised its estimate of shale gas available in the US to 347 trillion cubic feet.  Pennsylvania had 71,000 wells in 2009, double the number in 2000 and still growing rapidly.


Fracking has moved ahead fastest in the United States, but wells have been drilled in Poland, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.  Major potential shale gas resources have been identified in Africa, Australia, China, India, Europe, and South America.  Shale gas looks like it will be a big part of the world’s energy picture.

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It Takes a Village to Support a Community Garden!

Remarks by Charlotte Goldman, OPRF High School class of 2011 – at the Grand Opening Of the OPRF “Herban Garden”

Hi my name is Charlotte Goldman and I am one of the many leaders of the Environmental Club. Thank you again everyone for coming to share this important day with us. We have been waiting for this day for almost a year now. From the moment we started work on this project, we have had the help, support, and aid from the community. As some of you know, we first had the idea to build a roof garden, but because of legal reasons, this idea was passed by and we too passed the idea off for other dreams. But by chance, Donna Schuler from the OPRF Garden Club heard of our aspirations to build a community garden. We then received wonderful news over the summer of the gracious gift presented to us by the Garden Club, and we were back in business. This simple gift got us back on our feet, and rejuvenated our passions towards building an urban garden.

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Grand Opening of the OPRF High School’s “Herban” Garden

Remarks by Russell Trenary, OPRF High School class of 2011 – shared at the Grand Opening Ceremony:

This garden despite its small area, has a great potential benefit for the school.  First and foremost, this garden provides our cafeteria a readily available and free source of fresh, organic produce. While we must credit OPRF’s food service in their efforts to purchase produce from nearby farms, this garden takes local food to whole new level.  The industrialized food production system, from fertilization to transportation, is one of the most environmentally damaging industries. This garden is a step in the right direction — away from such a system.

In the coming years we hope to see the current garden be just one section of an expanding urban food production system at OPRF and in the community.  Moreover, the educational impacts of this garden should be fully recognized. The disassociating effects of the industrial food system can be greatly alleviated by the reminder that this garden provides — the reminder that food should come from soil, sun and not too much else.  And while the garden may be small now, it is at the forefront of a rapidly expanding movement in this country principled in the reclaiming of food, whole and simple.

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Composting Inside and Out: 14 Methods to Fit Your Lifestyle

June 20th, at 7pm, Chicago author Stephanie Davies will present a program based on her book, Composting Inside and Out: 14 Methods to Fit Your Lifestyle at the Oak Park Public Library.   The book includes in-depth instruction on the best composting methods for home, garden, and urban living. Plus special features on soil health, composting equipment, and stories from the worm world.

Since graduating from the University of Illinois in Chicago in 2008, Stephanie Davies has helped install hundreds of residential worm bins throughout the country. According to the Urban Worm Girl web site, they provide worm composting solutions for everything from household bins for a family, to classroom bins and education for students, and commercial bins for offices and cafeterias.  More recently, she has been installing the first wave of commercial worm bins throughout the Chicago area to help manage commercial restaurant and office waste on a grand scale.

This program is co-sponsored by Ethical Eating, an Oak Park community organization. 7 pm Veterans Room, Second Floor, Main Library.

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