We’re excited to announce that ICA will be working with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition on the Listen. Lead. Share. (LLS) campaign! Last year, we joined a cohort of organizations working to educate the public about clean energy and hear feedback from residents about recommendations for the upcoming energy bill for Illinois.
The campaign focused on the four pillars of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), a proposed legislation that aims to equitably create clean energy jobs, transition the state to renewable energy, electrify the transportation sector, and decarbonize the power sector. The bill is touted as the only grassroots option, as many of the ideas came from residents who participated in LLS events and signed on as community cosponsors.
In 2019, we hosted three LLS events in three different Chicago communities, including at ICA GreenRise in Uptown, Windsor Park Lutheran Church in South Shore, and the Bronzeville Neighborhood Farm in Bronzeville. Through these events, we saw that residents were eager to learn about clean energy and quick to connect the information to their own lives and neighborhoods.
The first pillar on jobs and economic development played a major role in every conversation, but participants also saw the connections between the pillars and how they are mutually influential. For example, South Shore residents discussed how energy efficiency practices can help them save on energy bills, echoing the economic concern for bringing jobs to the community.
As we reflected upon the work from last year, we recognized that our events were strongest when we leveraged existing partnerships with local organizations that are known and trusted in the community. Many participants at our Bronzeville event were residents who regularly buy produce from the Bronzeville Alliance garden and were drawn in by the conversation on clean energy.
We saw that powerful combination of our Technology of Participation (ToP) methods and deeply connected local organizations as our most impactful contribution to the LLS campaign. This year, we will be supporting the full statewide cohort of LLS organizations through facilitation, training, and consultation in our participatory methods.
The LLS campaign is moving forward in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed both challenges and opportunities for Illinois’ clean energy future. The community forums that have been the basis of the campaign have not been possible for several months, challenging organizers to engage residents through different channels. Meanwhile, the policy aims of CEJA—particularly economic investment and reducing pollution—are more urgently needed than ever. A robust clean energy economy in Illinois would provide jobs and infrastructure investment as part of the COVID-19 recovery across the state.