Our Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network meeting on December 3rd, 2019 at the Field Museum began with the question: “What passions are you bringing into 2020?” Instead of going around and answering verbally, they were asked to submit up to three words on Mentimeter, an app that collects and displays responses in real time. As people filtered in, their passions were added to a growing word cloud at the front of the room.
One of our hosts, Mario Longoni, who serves as Urban Anthropology Manager at the Field Museum, invited participants to tour the N.W. Harris Learning Collection, which is housed within the Museum. The collection “gives educators and parents a chance to take the Museum's collection to their classroom or home.” Members can rent anything from a mink skull to a tyrannosaurus tooth, including theme boxes such as “Wild in Chicago,” which includes activity guides and other resources for educators alongside stuffed bats, squirrels, rats, antlers, and raccoon pelts. As participants asked questions and admired the many rows of display cases, two Chicago Public Schools teachers who were checking out items vouched for the program, saying “it’s a great way to bring the Museum to my students!”
Lorena Lopez, Community Engagement Specialist at the Field Museum and our other event host, welcomed participants to the Museum and described her current work in the Calumet region.
As the last meeting of the year, the goal was to revisit the work of 2019 as a way to spark ideas for 2020. ICA Program Manager Caitlin Sarro led a brief overview of the digital timeline, calling on the members in the room to add details about each of the four previous meetings, three collaborative events, and the network’s Memo to the Mayor.
Participants were excited by the focus on neighborhoods demonstrated by the Nourish (comm)Unity II events series and the recent policy work exploring sustainability at the ward-level.
To deepen the conversation beyond presentation and reflection, ICA Program Manager Samantha Sainsbury introduced World Cafe, an exercise in which participants answer a series of questions through silent drawing on a communal canvas before discussing what they drew. Between rounds, everyone gets up and moves to a new table, except for one host at each table who is tasked with keeping and re-telling what was shared in the previous round with the newly assembled group.
Throughout three rounds, the participants answered:
At the end of the third round, Samantha asked participants to write answers to the third question on cards, which were collected and arranged on the adhesive Sticky Wall at the front of the room. She asked the group if they saw any similarities between the answers and responded by physically moving the cards into clusters.
By the end of the exercise, the network had identified the following focus areas for 2020:
We’ll revisit these six focus areas at our first meeting of 2020. In the meantime, you can help us prepare for 2020 in any of the following ways: