“Visitors loved seeing the goldfinches on the anise hyssop and cup plants, the monarchs landing on the swamp milkweed and bumblebees everywhere. There were literally ‘oohs and ahs,’” says garden host Adrian Fisher. With Mother Nature’s cooperation, the Interfaith Green Network, Green Community Connections and West Cook Wild Ones hosted a successful “Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour” in Oak Park and River Forest on August 6.
The Village of Oak Park has unanimously passed an ordinance requiring stores over 5000 square feet to charge 10¢ a single-use bag. The new rule goes into effect on January 1, 2018, and will apply to both paper and plastic bags. The new 10¢ fee will be evenly split between the retailer and the Village, with the Village’s share earmarked for “environmental sustainability initiatives” which have yet to be named.
Area congregations have demonstrated that they can make significant contributions to community sustainability through their facilities and operations including installation of geothermal and solar systems, energy efficiency retrofits, native and edible gardens, and zero waste programs, as well as advocacy for sustainable policies.
Green Teams associated with 20+ congregations in the Oak Park and River Forest areas are making a difference in their faith communities, in their facilities, in their community and
in state policies that promote sustainability. If you are looking for a place to get involved and make a difference locally, often your own congregation is a great place to start!
If your congregation has a green team, consider joining it; if not, consider starting one. You will find start-up ideas and resources in the GreenFaith Start-up Kit and GreenFaith Sustainability Resources.
Continue reading to find out how Oak Park and River Forest congregations are taking action to care for the earth.Green Teams are:
- Conducting zero waste events and reduced waste sent to the landfill to near zero!
- Planting congregation vegetable gardens and donating the food to the food pantry.
- Landscaping with native plants that reduce flooding and support the natural water cycle.
- Installing renewable energy sources including geothermal and solar in their facilities. (Note that grants have been received to help congregations afford these capital expenses.)
- Making their facilities more energy efficient: using energy audits to guide the work and working to “seal the envelope,” and install energy efficient appliances.
- Traveling to Springfield to advocate for environmental legislation at the state level.
The Interfaith Green Network is a network of area congregations who through sharing sustainability practices, projects and dialogue is working to build a vibrant vision and role for congregations in caring for Planet Earth. Twenty-two congregations have participated in the Network to date.
James Babcock of First United Church of Oak Park, Mac Robinet of St.Edmund Parish, and Dick Alton of Euclid Ave United Methodist Church make up the leadership team for the Interfaith Green Network. A high priority of the network is helping congregations to form and strengthen green teams. For help getting a green team started at your congregation or getting your congregation engaged in the Interfaith Green Network, please contact Dick Alton, Richard.Alton@gmail.com or 773-344-7172.
See also related article about upcoming Interfaith Green Network Forum on Priorities for 2014.
Start the New Year off right and learn how faith-based institutions in Oak Park and River Forest can achieve PlanItGreen goals and save energy and thousands of dollars every year!
This complimentary workshop, co-sponsored by PlanItGreen, the Interfaith Green Network, and the Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF), provides actionable steps and timelines for how Interfaith Green Network and PlanItGreen-affiliated religious organizations can significantly lower utility bills, provide a healthy environment for their congregations, and support congregational and PlanItGreen sustainability goals for 2013.
WHEN: Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7:00pm – 8:00pm
WHERE: Oak Park Public Library (Veteran’s Room, 2nd Floor), 834 Lake Street
WHO: This workshop is ideal for Oak Park and River Forest faith-based organizations operating in older facilities. Pastors, green team leaders, building operations managers, and congregation decision-makers are strongly encouraged to attend.
Participants will learn how IFF can:
- Assess your facility's energy use and evaluate your best options for energy savings
- Explain which grants and incentives are available to your organization to help cover costs
- Provide affordable, flexible loans for upfront costs—and use the savings from your lower energy costs to pay the loan back
- Oversee all energy upgrades and train your staff to help maximize savings
IFF's Energy Performance Program (E2P) has identified hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy savings for nonprofits and institutions of faith—join us on the 14th to learn how IFF can help your organization!