The creativity, insight, and passion of the past 50 years of ICA’s community development work is overflowing in hundreds of filing cabinets at ICA GreenRise. This May, over 30 ICA colleagues in Chicago and globally spent two weeks wrestling with the question: “How can the wisdom of the past be harnessed and made accessible to new generations?” The archives room was alive with the sojourners reconnecting with each other and forging new connections with current ICA staff.
ICA’s GreenRise Uptown Learning Laboratory began its exploration into the world of urban agriculture during the 2011 Summer Youth Program, when students were tasked with building a hydroponic window garden. The garden now runs as an aquaponic system, using fish in collaboration with plants to create a complete, self-sustaining food production system.
Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) was launched in October 2013 by ICA as part of the accelerate77 project. CSLN has become a key strategy to bring community leaders together to work collaboratively on a wide variety of sustainability and justice issues. Network members are currently working towards defining the details of how to accomplish their goals to strengthen and expand community-based sustainability efforts and increase collective impact.
January 10th through January 13th, 2014, the ToP Network hosted its annual gathering in Minneapolis, MN. This year’s theme was Raising the Big ToP: Facilitating Leadership in the Midst of Diversity and Change. The conference drew over 150 participants - from over 58 different cities and 21 different U.S. states, as well as visitors from Canada and Kuala Lumpur! In addition to the wide reach of the conference, locally, over 50+ facilitators joined in on the exchange.
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.
The Living Archives Project at the ICA is currently being worked on by colleagues who participated in the work of the Order: Ecumenical, Ecumenical Institute, and Institute of Cultural Affairs throughout the past 50 years.
On July 24, 2013 ICA GreenRise hosted an open house to introduce the Bioshaft®and the new street scape project in the Uptown community. Friends, neighbors, and community members came out to learn more about the projects and how they will help GreenRise address storm water runoff and provide habitats for plant pollinators and migrators.
Even though the summer weather dwindles down in Chicago, the excitement and energy within the Learning Basket program continues to sizzle! Through the generous support of both the Seaburyand the Thorek Foundations, the program was able to implement two new pilots with families in the Uptown community.
Children participating in the Learning Basket Pilot Programs