Join us on September 28th for a day of discovering the thriving, resilient, sustainable community we have in Oak Park and River Forest!!  The 2013 Green Living and Learning Tour will consist of 18 sites including nine one-hour tours and nine drop-in opportunities, all scheduled between noon and 5:00pm.  Learn more about each of the nine drop-in opportunities below. See information about one-hour tours and get a printable PDF of the tour schedule here.  A tour map will be posted soon.


A - Repair Cafe1Repair Cafe

Lifelong Learning Center at the Oak Park Arms 414 S Oak Park Ave, Oak Park Site A on map Drop-in:  noon to 2pm (opens at 10am for repairs)

What do you do with a broken toaster? Or a lamp that no longer lights? Or with a sweater that has  holes? Throw it away? Certainly not!  At the Lifelong Learning Center at the Oak Park Arms, 414 S. Oak Park Avenue, every 3rd Saturday of the month, 10am-2pm you will find volunteer experts including electricians, seamstresses and general handy people to help make all possible repairs free of charge. People visiting the Repair Café can bring along their broken items from home. Toasters, lamps, hair dryers, clothes, toys, crockery… anything that is broken is welcome.

By promoting repairs, the Lifelong Learning Center wants to help reduce mountains of waste. “We throw away piles of stuff…even things which practically have nothing wrong with them, and which could easily be used again after a simple repair,” said Nancy Bauer, one of the organizers. The Repair Café is also meant to put neighbors in touch with each other in a new way, by showing that a lot of know-how and practical skills can be found close to home.


B - Cheny Mansion Native GardensCheney Mansion Native Gardens

220 N Euclid Ave, Oak Park Site B on map Drop-in:  noon-3:00pm (tour led by head gardener, Charlie Ruedebusch at 1PM)

See the gardens on your own or join a tour at 1pm led by Cheney Mansion head gardener, Charlie Ruedebusch.  “When a big horse chestnut tree split in two and had to be removed ten years ago, the Park District of Oak Park’s Cheney Mansion finally had a sunny space for a garden full of plants native to the Illinois prairie.”   Charlie will describe how the garden has evolved over the past ten years, and will share the joys and benefits -- and dispell a few myths -- of incorporating native plantings in the home landscape.


C-Greenline-WheelsBiking Safely in an Urban Area & Biking Supports

105 S. Marion, Oak Park Greenline Wheels Site C on map Drop-in:  1:00-3:00pm


Get tips on how to stay safe while biking in an urban area.  Greenline Wheels' safety experts are teaching safety and adventure as part of the Green Living & Learning Tour.  Instruction focuses on covering  the basics such as checking and fitting gears, signaling, braking, and more. Greenline Wheels representatives will also familiarize participants with other biking supports that they offer.  Did you know that you can stop by GLW any time and refill your tires with air and refill your water bottle for Free?  Also learn about the Oak Park Cycle Club and it’s activities.


D - Green CondoGoing Green in a Condo

166 N Humphrey Ave, Oak Park Site D on map Drop-in:  2:00-4:30pm

Check out our raised bed gardens, composting and rain barrel in our tiny back yard, and then head upstairs where we will be discussing various methods of home food preservation, mainly involving canning and fermentation.  Under the umbrella of canning, we will talk about making fruit jams and pickling vegetables.  As for the far more ancient method of lacto-fermentation, we will discuss how to make milk kefir, yogurt, and fermented vegetables, such as pickles and sauerkraut.  There are many nutritional as well as environmental benefits to both of these methods of home food preservation.  Also see related article from last year’s tour on “50-Ways of Greening Your Life Living in an Apartment or Condo.”


Native Landscapes Mini Tour with Wild Ones!

SAMSUNGVarious locations (see map for details) Mini tour sites marked on map with native grass icon See the gardens on your own or join a group bike ride, 2:30-4:00pm *Group bike ride leaves from Cheney Mansion at 2:30pm

Attract butterflies and bees, support the natural water cycle, help prevent flooding, and get ideas for incorporating beautiful native plants into your yard.  Join Wild Ones tour leaders and bike around OP to see examples of native landscaping.  From big to small, parkway to front yard, all natives to mixed plantings - you’ll see a variety that will inspire you to add some diversity to your garden.  The bike tour starts from the Cheney Mansion at 2:30pm.  The tour route will be published so that those that prefer to see the gardens on their own may stop by these locations as well.


Raising Tilapia & Making Wine

1009 W Madison St, Oak ParkF - Tilapia Site F on map Drop-in:  2:00-4:30

Frank DiFebo is a an explorer and early adaptor.  He enjoys experimenting  with all sorts of things in the back room of his real estate office at 1009 Madison St.  Frank, broker/owner of Classic Properties, is operating a hydroponic vegetable garden and a tilapia fish farm that sustainably support one another.  Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants by placing  the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil, soilless growth of plants.  Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish) in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.  In one tank Frank has tilapia and in a separate tank, fed by water from the fish tank, are large tomato plants and basil.   In his spare time Frank also makes wine.


G - Mini SolarMini Solar Demonstration House

Northeast Corner of Forest & Lake, Oak Park Site G on map Drop-in:  noon-4:00pm

The Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) proudly presents the Solar House, a tiny house on a trailer which provides a miniature example of a life sized solar powered residence.  The house is for exterior viewing only, and has both photovoltaics  and solar thermal installed.   The idea of solar powered energy is new to most of us, so Green Community Connections is excited to make the Solar House available to local residents.  Representatives that are knowledgable about solar, including Joe Gordon, who worked with the Village of Oak Park to put solar on the Oak Park Avenue parking garage, will be onsite to provide information and answer questions you have on the house and solar energy.  The Solar House exhibit is FREE and open to the public.


714 N GroveSave $$ on Water

714 Grove Ave, Oak Park Site H on map Drop-in:  2:00-4:30

This home illustrates a creative use of traditional and newer water retention and distribution methods.  The client's existing rain barrels were supplemented with two Rainwater Hogs and filter/diverters, and then interconnected to make sure that water was evenly available around the house for garden irrigation. Overflow was directed into two French drains beneath the beds.  River Forest contractor, Michael Ruehle of GREENheart Buildings, Inc., will be on hand to explain the system and show visitors the components.  (See also #3 in the One-hour Guided Tours for another water management site hosted by Michael.


BeesKids Explore Bees, Butterflies & Worms

River Forest Library, 735 Lathrop Ave, River Forest Site I on map Drop-in:  3:00-4:30pm

Children and moms & dads will have opportunities to visit 3 stations at their own pace to learn about bees, butterflies and worms and how we can help to give them a home so we can help them to help us

  • Explore pollinators  like butterflies and the habitats that attract them.  Miss Stephanie will bring real butterfly specimens that the kids can touch and they will learn about what kind of a home butterflies need, and why they and other pollinators are important to us.  The children will have an opportunity to create a model habitat for butterflies.
  • Worms are some of nature's most efficient composters:  At this station, kids will learn how to set up a worm bin, what worms eat, and the benefits of worm castings.  Children will have opportunities to build a worm habitat and touch and hold the worms if desired.
  • Miss Ellen will read a story and lead the children in an activity related to these creatures in nature, their habitats and how they help us.