A clean energy future for Illinois would be based around jobs and economic opportunity, 100% renewable energy, reduction of fossil-fuel-burning vehicles, and a carbon-free power sector under a proposed legislation known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). Those four pillars, and the policies and programs contained within them, were crowded-sourced from residents across the state who participated in over 70 community conversations on clean energy as part of the Listen. Lead. Share. (LLS) campaign organized by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition.
On the evening of July 30th, ICA hosted its first of three LLS events. The series debut took place at ICA GreenRise, where a group consisting of mostly Uptown residents gathered to learn about CEJA and discuss ways to make clean, affordable energy accessible to the neighborhood and beyond.
ICA Program Manager Caitlin Sarro, who facilitated the event, began by inviting each person in the room to introduce themselves by name, organizational affiliation, and what brought them into the room. Participants expressed care for the environment and the community, and a desire to learn more and get involved.
After a short video introducing LLS, Caitlin led participants through the core of the meeting, a discussion organized around the four pillars of CEJA. Each pillar became the subject of a focused conversation, one of the foundational methods of our Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitation method. Starting with the pillar title, description, and underlying programs, the group was able to dig into complex concepts of the bill. For example, the first pillar, known as Jobs and Economic Development, works to “ensure high-quality jobs and economic opportunity are at the heart of our vision for a clean, equitable energy future for all” by creating Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs and a Contractor Incubator Program.
After a moment to define relevant terms and answer any questions of clarity about the information presented, she turned the discussion over to the group through questions such as “What aspects of this are you most excited about?” to prompt personal reflection and “What are they key values being emphasized in this pillar?” to invite interpretation on the significance of the proposal. This trajectory of discussion, from data to reflection to interpretation, prepared the group to answer key survey questions pillar-by-pillar in real time, rather than all at once after the meeting, when energy and memory has subsided.
Following four rounds of discussion, participants were informed and involved, ready to answer the final question on the survey that asked them to identify themselves as a “community cosponsor” of CEJA. Those who checked the box join the nearly 10,000 Illinoisans and more than 80 state legislators who have already sponsored the bill.
ICA is organizing two more LLS events in other parts of the city, both hosted by close partners. On August 28th, Windsor Park Lutheran Church in South Shore will host our second event. In October, Bronzeville Alliance will host us for a conversation in their community.