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News & Press: ICA News

Accelerate 77 Facilitates a Common Voice Towards Collaborative Action

Tuesday, January 21, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Caitlin Sarro
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ICA’s Accelerate 77 project continues to flourish as the implementation of Phase III gains momentum. At the beginning of 2013, the Accelerate 77 team hosted several sustainability vision workshops across the city, organized the first local Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) gathering, created a pilot sustainability roadmap effort with Chicago’s Austin community, and held a forum on Building Community Energy Strategies for the City of Chicago.

In addition to doing work in and around Chicago, Accelerate 77 was also invited to present at the Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) Conference in Minneapolis, the Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind, and Behavior Symposium in New York, and the City of Chicago’s Earth Day Data series.

The year began with regional gatherings on the north, west, south and south west sides of Chicago to cultivate a better understanding of the trajectory Phase III might take. One of the ideas that emerged from the community meetings and internal discussions among the Accelerate 77 team was the creation of a citywide network, the CSLN. The network aims to connect local leaders and organizations, develop a common voice, and inspire new ideas through increased peer-to-peer learning and collaboration.

On Tuesday, October 1, ICA GreenRise hosted the first meeting of the network. Nearly 50 community leaders attended, representing over 40 organizations throughout the city. Participants discussed common values, what shape and form the network could take, and goals they hoped would be accomplished as a result of organizing together. Key ideas that emerged included a needs and asset pairing between organizations within the network, capacity building through interorganizational knowledge, and skill sharing. A resounding message heard throughout the gathering was how the diversity of knowledge within the room expanded thinking and innovation via a multidisciplinary lens of sustainability.

Another part of Phase III that gained momentum this year was the participatory community sustainability roadmaps. The initial pilot program took place in partnership with Alderman Deborah Graham of Chicago’s Austin community. The project launched on September 4th at the Columbus Park Refectory with close to 100 Austin residents participating in a vision workshop and dialogue that expressed what a sustainable Austin would look like by 2015. The second session was held at Shriner Children’s Hospital October 2nd with over 75 attendees taking the vision, breaking off into teams to create focused ‘working group roadmaps’ for each vision category of particular interest to the community. You can read more about the project here.

To add to the growth, this November AC77 held its very first community centered forum. Titled "The Future of Chicago’s Energy: Building Community Energy Strategies”, the forum looked to bridge the gap in dialogue between grassroots community based organizations, resource providers, and policy makers. The day began with an imaginal exercise around energy. Participants then broke up into three different tracks: reduce, reinvent, and transform. Each track engaged participants through panels, ignite sessions, and facilitated dialogue around those three key themes. The event ended with a remarkable speech from keynote listener Jamie Ponce of the City of Chicago and C40 initiative, capturing what transpired throughout the day, followed by a conversation reflecting on what participants felt were the key emerging energy strategies in Chicago. You can read the report here.

This project has succeeded so wonderfully through public support, and a grant given by The Boeing Foundation for $90,000 for 2013 and 2014. The Accelerate 77 project continues to look for opportunities to share its approach of encouraging and cultivating a city-wide learning community.