When most people retire, they kick back, take cruises, and visit the grandchildren. Sally Stovall was not most people. She did, indeed, relish visiting her grandchildren, but after she retired from a career in organizational development, Sally embarked on a new, vibrant career as climate activist and community organizer.
In September 2010, Sally and her partner, Dick Alton, were worried about global warming and decided to hold a community meeting to see if others felt the same way. Out of the woodwork poured a cohort of people with the same concerns --no real surprise in progressive Oak 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.
Six One Earth Young Filmmakers Workshops started in the heat of summer, on August 11, and finished up amid a winter chill on December 9. Recent art school graduates and accomplished, award-winning film directors taught content, which ranged from stop-motion to live action.
Each day’s news seems to pitch us deeper into the pits of despair: climate change action feels stalled, or worse, rolled back.
According to the latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a body of the world’s most respected scientists from 195 countries), climate change is here, and it’s accelerating faster than many models predicted. What’s more, climate change will usher in catastrophic food shortages and natural disasters by 2040 unless we change course.
For seven months now, a group of 20 people, give or take a few, have been practicing Sacred Wandering at Thatcher Woods, the third Saturday of each month. We start with some community-building conversation, a standing meditation, and then we walk slowly to our first meditation spot where we sit for about 15 minutes, focusing on the nature surrounding us.
At the closing celebration for the One Earth Film Festival, Isaiah Mākar presented his Spoken Word piece, “Earth’s Breakup Letter: Please Don’t Leave Me for Mars,” on March 11, at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Recently, he answered a few questions about his journey from a shy kid to a Spoken Word entrepreneur. This interview is followed by his Spoken Word poem from the closing celebration.
Practicing self-care is essential in 2018. It’s been a year of soul-crushing news about the climate, the state of our democracy, and #metoo. If you enjoy walking, you might try forest therapy. Called forest bathing (shinrin yoku) by the Japanese, this beautiful practice combines mindfulness and a slow stroll in nature, under the direction of a certified guide, often in the company of others.
Green Mountain Energy (GME) Sun Club is partnering with the Park District of Oak Park to provide $100,000 for solar panels, rain harvesting, tea composting and bees at the Oak Park Conservatory.
To secure these funds, the Park District needs your help. Click on the link below to identify actions you and your family will take to help make our community more sustainable and contribute to the overall health of Mother Earth.
The Pivot Arts Festival and Chicago Community Climate Partners will present an evening of Art and Activism from 5:30 to 8:40 p.m. Saturday, June 9, at Loyola University’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability at 6349 N. Kenmore Ave., in Chicago.
The evening begins with a reception and tours of the LEED-certified, sustainable building at 5:30 p.m. A pre-performance panel will convene at 6:30 p.m., before "Not Every Mountain," to discuss the impact of climate change locally, legislative victories, and arts activism.
Local students took top prizes in the One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest at the elementary and middle school levels in both 2018 and 2017. Winning films premiered at the One Earth Film Festival in March at Columbia College along with top films from across the country at high school and college levels. At that time, students were fêted with monetary prizes, certificates, T-shirts, and a reception.
Meet architect, planner and author Douglas Farr from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., in Oak Park. Discuss ideas from his new book, "Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future." His first book, "Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature" helped shift the focus of urban sustainability from the stand-alone building to the high-performance neighborhood.
Spring has sprung, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming.
Host a green show & tell event at your block party to explore ways we can do our part to support Mother Nature. You can choose from one of the following topics offered by Green Community Connections and friends or design your own event.
Students at Morton High School worked to solve the real-world problem of the declining monarch population by building a 5,000-square-foot monarch habitat and native garden at the Freshman Center in late April.
Join the workday for the Student Citizen Science Monarch Ecological Engineering Project beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 28, and continuing throughout the day at the Morton Freshman Center, 1801 South 55th Ave., in Cicero. Stay for just the morning, the afternoon, or all day.
Fun for the whole family awaits at the 2018 Earth Fest, including a wide range of activities for kids from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at the Village of Oak Park Public Works Center, 201 South Blvd. Engage with more than 50 vendors and organizations who will provide hands-on activities, environmental services information, free samples and green goods for sale. Take a tour of the LEED Gold-certified Public Works facility, and check out the beehives on the building’s green roof.
In celebration of Earth Day Weekend on April 21-22, Interfaith Green Network Congregations are encouraging residents to leave the cars home and to bike or walk from place to place. The goal is to get 1,000 people to participate in biking and walking around town to raise awareness of efforts we can all take to improve the environment in our community. Residents can indicate their intent to walk or ride here: tinyurl.com/y7ytr8tz
The Resilient Communities Forum on Jan. 31 at the Nineteenth Century Club drew 175 residents from Oak Park and River Forest. They heard from municipal and environmental leaders on ways nations and communities are addressing the challenges of climate change.
On Wednesday, Jan. 31, the Oak Park and River Forest area residents are invited to participate in the Resilient Communities Forum. We will hear first-hand how nations and communities are addressing the challenges of climate change, and explore practical ways in which we can make a real impact locally. The event takes place from 6:30-8:30 pm, at the 19th Century Club, 178 Forest Ave in Oak Park, IL.
Dallas Goldtooth, an activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network who helped stop the Keystone XL pipeline, is still advocating for sustained demonstrations and non-violent actions.
“We need a story of change…of resistance,” he told a gathering of close to 1500 civic leaders, community members, and representatives from 70 civic and environmental organizations that attended the Chicago Community Climate Forum, held Dec. 3 at The Field Museum.
In mid-November, Mindy Agnew took on the role as Oak Park’s new sustainability coordinator, stepping into a post that had been vacant for more than three and a half years.
Mindy’s sustainability pedigree is already well established in Oak Park. She was a member of the team that guided District 97 to incorporate zero waste programs in the schools, beginning in 2008. Since that time, composting, recycling, and zero waste lunches have become commonplace throughout the Oak Park educational system.
This year, the One Earth Film Festival expanded its Young Filmmakers Workshops, reaching out to new communities and groups, collaborating with a variety of teachers and organizations. Students learned about live-action as well as animation from filmmaking professionals and technical experts.
Solar energy deployment is getting super charged on Chicago’s near west side, thanks to a community-based program called PlanItGreen: Solar in Your Community. The program is developing a pipeline of community solar projects to meet the renewable energy goal in Oak Park and River Forest’s PlanItGreen sustainability plan: achieve 25% renewable energy procurement by 2020.
As world leaders gather in Bonn, Germany, for the first UN Climate Change Conference since the Trump Administration pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, it is clear from the surge of climate change conferences and events in the Chicago region that cities and local government entities, universities, community organizations and businesses are moving forward to take action on climate change and to activate their constituencies to do the same.
Two Young Filmmakers Workshop teachers will guide the workshops again this year, but as husband and wife rather than an engaged couple. David Arthur Wall and Lauren Travers Wall tied the knot in June, followed by a whirlwind honeymoon in London, Liverpool (The Beatles, duh), Paris, Venice, and Rome.