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 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