Growing a Brighter Future in Austin

Growing a Brighter Future in Austin

August brought an end to another successful completion of Green Community Connection’s youth sustainability leadership program, formerly known as “I Can Fly.” This summer’s program, “Austin Grown,” was a collaboration between GCC and BUILD Chicago, an organization serving Chicago’s at-risk youth since 1969 through gang intervention, violence prevention, and youth development programs.

The 8-week “Austin Grown” program involved 10 students, hailing primarily from the Austin, Garfield Park, and North Lawndale communities of Chicago, including two who returned from GCC’s 2017 pilot cohort.

Native Tree & Shrub Sale is For the Birds, Not Cats

Native Tree & Shrub Sale is For the Birds, Not Cats

We are blessed with an abundance of mature trees on the Greater West Side of Chicago. And that means birds are flying above us all the time.  What makes them want to stop and linger in a particular garden? Jim Gill and Elaine Petkovsek are making that discovery. For the past year, they have been working on creating a “bird garden” in their backyard. They are putting the finishing touches on a project that’s taken some muscle, a little research… and becoming a bit of a bird-brain.

Young Filmmakers Workshops Head Downstate and Back Again

Young Filmmakers Workshops Head Downstate and Back Again

Pembroke Township, in the southeast corner of Kankakee County, is full of treasures of both place and people. From its black oak savanna to its black rodeo, topography and culture meet to create a one-of-a kind, rural community.

This summer, six area high school students participating in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) documented some of what makes Pembroke so unique via three Young Filmmakers Workshops with Matt Wechsler of Hourglass Films.

Wild Ones Presents Native Garden Tour

Wild Ones Presents Native Garden Tour

People who are curious about easy, affordable ways to add beauty to their home landscapes or who want to attract more beneficial wildlife to their yards can attend the “Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour” from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, August 10, in Oak Park and River Forest.

Appropriate for beginning to advanced home gardeners, the tour will feature eight enchanting Oak Park and River Forest native gardens featuring Illinois native plants, including shade, sun and rain gardens, according to Pamela Todd, director of West Cook Wild Ones, the tour’s organizer.

Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass

Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass

Join a book discussion of "Braiding Sweetgrass" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave., in River Forest. Sponsored by the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Nature Book Club.

This collection of essays was a favorite of GCC’s co-founder, Sally Stovall, who passed away a little more than a month ago. “It opened up a whole new way of looking at things,” she said about the book a few years ago, when she organized a five-week reading group around it. Later, in writing a brief review, Sally wrote, “The stories in each chapter have delighted and nurtured me in a way that I find hard to describe. From the first essay on, I have been sharing my enthusiasm for this book like an evangelist!”

Parts of Monarch Migration 'A Great Mystery'

Parts of Monarch Migration 'A Great Mystery'


When monarch butterflies migrate over 2,000 miles to Mexico during the winter, they head to the same places within the fir forests each year. This fact may not sound impressive, but the monarchs who fly to Mexico may be fourth generation butterflies who have never seen the mountain forests and do not have any living ancestors to lead the way from experience.
 
Doug Taron, chief curator at Chicago Academy of Sciences’ Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, will speak about the life cycle and migration of monarch butterflies at a West Cook Wild Ones monthly meeting from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, at the Oak Park Public Library Maze Branch, 845 Gunderson Ave.

A Dirty Deal for McKinley Park?

A Dirty Deal for McKinley Park?

It happened suddenly, almost overnight. Just 700 feet from young children playing, MAT Asphalt, LLC appeared on the southern border of McKinley Park, at 2055 W. Pershing Rd., in Chicago, in early 2018. The plant produces up to 890,000 tons of asphalt per year.

Almost as quickly, Neighbors for Environmental Justice (N4EJ) formed in response; they are a group of local citizens who claim the plant brings dust and fumes, which could damage children’s lungs, increase rates of asthma, and possibly worse.

Book Review: 'How to Be a Good Creature'

Book Review: 'How to Be a Good Creature'

Not many people would let a tarantula crawl across their hand and consider it a “magical” experience. Nor allow an octopus to grasp their arm with its suckers, but author Sy Montgomery did both, telling stories about the animals in “How to be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals.”

The Nature Book Club of the Trailside Museum of Natural History will hold a free discussion of “How to Be a Good Creature” at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2. The museum is located at 738 Thatcher Ave. in River Forest. For details, contact 708-366-6530 or trailside.museum@cookcountyil.gov. “How to Be a Good Creature” is a New York Times bestseller, and Montgomery is a National Book Award finalist.

Book Review: A Sand County Almanac

Book Review: A Sand County Almanac

If you curl up with A Sand County Almanac by a window, you may soon be looking outside and seeing a passing dog as a “professor” of scents. You may imagine how if a nearby chickadee worked, it would have a “Keep calm” sign above its desk. Aldo Leopold’s classic book combines such memorable and humorous observations of flora and fauna on his Wisconsin sand farm, as well as his thoughts and philosophy on conservation.

Add a Green-Themed Activity to Your Block Party

Add a Green-Themed Activity to Your Block Party

Planning a block party in Oak Park for July, Aug or Sept? Check out these green-themed “show & tell” activities offered by Green Community Connections and partners.