Accelerating Green Initiatives in Chicago’s 77 Communities
Community-based sustainability initiatives are taking place across the metropolitan area of Chicago. These, however, are often relatively isolated activities with limited interaction between them. Though many organizations, foundations, companies, and government agencies have programs and resources to assist local sustainability efforts, many communities are unaware of these opportunities or unfamiliar with ways to access them.
The Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) is the organizing sponsor of "Accelerate 77.” This is a three-year program to increase the role and positive impact of local communities in realizing objectives of the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Its underlying strategy is to IDENTIFY current sustainability initiatives in all of Chicago’s 77 community areas; CONNECT them with one another to inspire new ideas, practices, self-consciousness and motivation through peer interchange; and ENGAGE residents in systematic learning, planning, and collective action. It is anticipated that the project will thereby ACCELERATE environmental sustainability in a bottom-up fashion driven by practical action, expanded imagination, and greater organizational capacities among local groups.
City Wide Conference
Identification and documentation is currently taking place with the involvement of students from six major universities in the Chicago area. This work will culminate with a one-day "Sharing Approaches That Work” conference on September 15, 2012 to highlights neighborhood innovations in clean energy, waste reduction, green jobs, recycling, local food production, etc. It will involve community groups, businesses, and agencies of city, state, and national government. The day will serve as a "share fair” for community representatives to learn from one another while attending a series of "connection seminars” where support organizations will present opportunities for accelerating green initiatives through various resources available to neighborhoods. The event will be punctuated by a keynote address from a prominent leader in the environmental movement.
Sharing Approaches That Work
community interaction to learn from each other’s experiences
presentations by resource organizations on grant and program opportunities
A report on the 77 neighborhood sustainable initiatives will document successful local undertakings and key lessons learned in their implementation. These will be shared electronically with neighborhoods and nonprofit organizations across Chicago.
The "Sharing Approaches that Work” conference will help encourage and accelerate local efforts while catalyzing follow-up work in Chicago’s 77 community areas during the next two years through training workshops, local share fairs, and new collaboration efforts between neighborhood groups to build a common vision. The anticipated result will be multiple local initiatives that will significantly contribute to the success of the Chicago Climate Action Plan by 2020. The ICA is the organizing sponsor of "Accelerate 77” with other organizations, several of which are identified below, playing a crucial role in the effort. Alliances and partnerships will continue to grow as groups, organizations, and individuals connect through their shared concern for building sustainable and resilient Chicago communities.