In 1995, Alvyn Walker was sitting in a Giordano’s restaurant on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, engaged with friends in a conversation that would influence the rest of his life. “We started to brainstorm about what type of a goal would you set for yourself and how do you think that particular goal would be achieved,” he says.
“I had a vision that we needed to stop responding with force. We need to build coalitions of people and be able to converge on problems using a more thoughtful approach to solving problems.”
In 1979, Maxine Florell, Jeanette Hupp, and Janet Sullivan began operating a women’s center in Uptown with an aim that differed from many social service agencies of the time—to accept each woman as she was. To embody this value, they implemented a few rules as needed to create a safe, peaceful, and respectful space. In the beginning, that space was a second-story apartment with a handful of regular clients. It would later be named Sarah’s Circle for the cat that spent time with women in the center.
“What brought you here tonight?” asked ICA Program Manager Caitlin Sarro of the group that gathered near the dusk of September 26th at the Gold Dome Fieldhouse in Garfield Park. This simple question carries the powerful assumption that each person has their own reason for coming to a Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) meeting. Beyond those reasons are deeper values and motivations, the interaction of which has helped CSLN remain a dynamic, emergent network for nearly six years.
“Bronzeville is an extraordinary community filled with precious cultural artifacts and historic locations where many of our community’s best and brightest have walked, talked, laughed, and cried,” read the program guide created by Bronzeville Alliance for the second event in this year’s Nourish (comm)Unity series. On the afternoon of September 21st, participants on the FRESH Bronzeville environmental tour not only walked, talked, and laughed: they also biked.
The Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action (ANCA) program in Denver is based on an assumption that each household and family can, by changing lifestyle behaviors, lower their own carbon footprint as well as that of their neighborhood, thus creating a healthier future for all residents. Since 2016, ANCA has been using inclusive strategies, including our Technology of Participation (ToP) methods to host Climate Action Forums that cultivate climate action block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood throughout the city.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) aims to dramatically increase investment in clean energy across Illinois, driving equitable economic development, fossil fuel divestment, and energy efficiency. CEJA is not the only energy legislation proposed in the Illinois General Assembly this fall, but it is unique in building upon a “grassroots movement of ideas from everyday people across Illinois."
Each year, the Uptown Garden Walk grows. In 2016, a garden hub day at ICA planted the seed that would blossom into the first Garden Walk. The next year, the second Garden Walk aligned with the Out and About Uptown’s Coast series to explore connections between present day gardens and the history of Uptown’s coast. During the third Garden Walk, stewards from local gardens greeted participants who opted to guide themselves. On September 7th of this year, the Fourth Annual Uptown Garden Walk featured yoga, a garden workday, educational tours, and a social gathering.
“Our intent is to share success stories of participatory methods that evidence profound respect and inclusive participation,” said Jane Stallman in her opening remarks to a webinar on community development co-hosted by ICA and the Center for Strategic Facilitation (CSF). On hand to share these case stories were ICA Program Director Seva Gandhi and Jennifer Vanica, co-lead of VanicaCummings and Senior Fellow with PolicyLink.
This past August in Omaha, NE, five new Certified ToP Facilitators (CTFs) formally joined a national cohort. Congratulations to John Beranek of Sioux Falls, SD, Marcia Hodges of Oakland, CA, Greta Leach and Colleen Svoboda of Lincoln, NE, and Kayla Schnuelle of Diller, NE! In October, five additional candidates passed their assessments in Minneapolis, MN. Congratulations to Minnesotans Levitie Danielle Dryke, Meg Knodl, Jake Melson, Al Onkka, and Karie Terhark! There are now 115 CTFs in the United States.