For many, words like sustainability and environmental justice conjure familiar images: solar panels glimmering on rooftops, recyclables tucked neatly in bins, fish freed from plastic soda rings. Nourish (comm)Unity, a series curated by Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network, aims to bring less familiar images into focus.
For a building like ICA GreenRise, which hosts social service providers that reach over a thousand people weekly, every day seems like an open house. However, during Chicago Architecture Foundation’s annual Open House Chicago tour, architecture buffs, curiosity seekers, and passersby alike are drawn from across Chicago to marvel at buildings which might otherwise remain a mystery.
“I never paid any attention to this space until I was asked to get involved,” says Ian Whiting of the humble garden plot in Uptown’s Sunnyside Mall, adopted in 2016 by students at Courtenay Elementary’s Budding Gardeners program. Ian was one of several enthusiastic Uptown residents representing their neighborhood gardens during ICA’s Third Annual Uptown Garden Walk earlier this month.
I am most looking forward to learning from my fellow board members and the incredibly talented staff at ICA. I am most looking forward to learning from my fellow board members and the incredibly talented staff at ICA. The wealth of knowledge and lived experience present in the room at any given time is astounding.
ICA completed Out and About Uptown’s Coast, a year-long coastal education series focusing on our home community of Uptown, earlier this year. The series focused on increasing awareness, access, and stewardship of the coastal zone. The project team used ICA’s Imaginal Education theory and tools to design an transformative education series tailored to residents, workers, and visitors in the Uptown community.
ICA’s current community programs work at the intersection of environmental and social justice. Our programs also aim to support and showcase other organizations and individuals who are working on transforming our current inequitable systems. ICA launched a new event series called Conversations of Social Justice, which highlights local resource organizations so that Uptown residents and workers have the opportunity to further connect regarding services, partnerships, and volunteer opportunities.
ICA Global Archives Team works to recover, organize, digitize, and reimagine more than 50 years of work by the Institute of Cultural Affairs and Ecumenical Institute. This vital work is made possible by the incredible volunteer commitment of ICA colleagues across the world.
ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) training program continues to thrive in 2018. With more than 100 trainers in 26 states offering over 250 public courses each year, ToP’s impact continues to grow throughout the United States. Several improvements to the ToP program are currently underway through the work of ICA staff and trainer teams throughout the US.
Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) connects grassroots leaders from communities across the city to collaborate, share resources, support each other’s work, build a stronger collective voice, and nurture equitable and impactful relationships with policy makers. CSLN meetings take place bi-monthly at different locations throughout the city to highlight different member neighborhoods and buildings.
ICA’s mission of building “a just and equitable society in harmony with planet Earth” begins here at home with the ICA GreenRise, our national landmark building. In May 2018 the Chicago Community Loan Fund extended to ICA a $3.5 million loan for the purposes of anchoring the total funding needed to begin work on the historic restoration of the building.