In 1995, Alvyn Walker was sitting in a Giordano’s restaurant on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, engaged with friends in a conversation that would influence the rest of his life. “We started to brainstorm about what type of a goal would you set for yourself and how do you think that particular goal would be achieved,” he says.
“I had a vision that we needed to stop responding with force. We need to build coalitions of people and be able to converge on problems using a more thoughtful approach to solving problems.”
That conversation at Giordano’s took place just before Alvyn was deployed to Bosnia as part of a military career that took him around the world and gave him a robust training in infrastructure and logistics.
It was back home in Chicago where his vision really began to take root. Today, Alvyn is the Property Team Lead at Windsor Park Lutheran Church in South Shore, where he organizes a community garden, food pantry, youth programs, Tai Chi classes, and more. Working with Leave No Veteran Behind, he helped install a router in the church steeple that beams internet to the surrounding blocks. He also participates in Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, Faith in Place’s Green Team, and the One Earth Film Festival. When an ICA staffer remarked that he always seems to have a new project in the works, Alvyn grinned and said “speaking of new projects...”
For five years Alvyn has been deeply engaged in our Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN). He hosted the first network meeting of the year and helped organize the Nourish (comm)Unity events series, which debuted a resource-sharing cooperative he’s been planning with another CSLN member. After helping ICA organize a Listen. Lead. Share. clean energy forum in South Shore, Alvyn began working with another member to make clean energy more accessible. He connected with One Earth Film Festival through ICA colleague Dick Alton, who he met at a CSLN meeting. That partnership has also introduced Alvyn to our ToP methods, which he says have greatly improved his facilitation skills.
His level of engagement is not just impressive, it’s radical, and it’s all made possible through collaboration. Alvyn is unequivocal about how ICA has supported his work, saying that “CSLN has allowed me to put to use some of the skills that I have been given through military schooling and through civilian education to be able to have a conduit for using those skills to make a difference."
Our work depends on a groundswell of individual supporters. If you, like the many people featured in this issue, have been inspired by our work, we ask that you make a contribution.