Internally, network members worked together to develop a formal membership structure. The intent of the structure is to provide support and clarity for current members and allow new interested parties to plug into the work of the network more easily. Starting in the spring, CSLN organizers conducted outreach to seasoned and new members, as well as community leaders who have experience in organizing networks, for input and suggestions on the most effective structure to serve the diverse network.
The formalized structure has three levels of membership: Core, Ally, and Grasstops. Each level of membership is equal to the amount of time and energy invested; the benefits received directly correlate to the investment made. Members self-select the amount of time and energy they see themselves contributing to the network and choose a corresponding membership level. Network organizers intend to use this membership structure as they continue outreach to new members and improve it as more feedback is received.
Externally, the network’s policy working group organized and delivered on their first tangible project in the ‘in-between space,’ aiming to reflect the voice of local residents and grassroots organizations in City policy. The CSLN policy team and the City of Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Wheat, laid the groundwork for and clarified the project through several round table discussions.
CSLN was invited and contracted to host four public meetings across Chicago to get community ideas on ways to improve Chicago’s recycling, more specifically on how to reduce recycling contamination rates. The meetings educated attendees on the current reality of recycling and prompted them to share creative solutions to mitigate barriers they face to recycling. Meeting attendees produced many innovative ideas that are being processed to share with the City. The meetings also prompted some press coverage including articles in a few local newspapers, a radio segment on WGN, and a video segment on Chicago Tonight, WTTW.
City staff intend to review the ideas with members of the CSLN’s policy team and begin implementing applicable ones to help improve Chicago’s Recycling Program. Network members consider this project a positive one and are looking forward to exploring new opportunities through this partnership.
To read more about the work and members of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network or the recycling initiative please visit www.accelerate77.net/csln