GCC's May eNews:  Green Block Parties; Justin Vrany of zero-waste Sandwich Me In; GreenTown Chicago May 21-22Upcoming Events.

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Host a Green Block Party
With Spring finally "sprung," and the last day of school soon approaching, neighbors' minds and hearts turn to that annual homage to communal grilling, sidewalk chalk, water fights, and big-and-little-people tricycle races. The Block Party is a sacred thing in many places across the country -- not least in Oak Park and River Forest. Here, block party fun is serious business. And to some local citizens, greening their block parties is seriously cool and important business.  The great news is that the villages of Oak Park and River Forest are both supporting Green Block Parties this year! 

Read more for details so you can start planning your own green block party.


Justin Vrany, owner of Sandwich Me In 
Justin Vrany knows about the power of publicity, and the strength of the “green” movement. He opened his Chicago restaurant, Sandwich Me In, two years ago with a commitment to zero waste and to sourcing local, organic food. Despite a loyal customer base and favorable reaction to his delicious offerings, business was so slow that he found himself unable to pay employees and running the restaurant single-handedly for nearly six months last year.

Then NationSwell produced a short documentary about the restaurant  recently (click the article link below to see video). The documentary shows how Sandwich Me In is truly a zero waste restaurant. It has been widely viewed—over 130,000 views within the first several weeks—and has also sparked a series of articles in prestigious on-line and print publications (CBS News, the Huffington Post, Chicago Tonight and others).

We visited Sandwich Me In at 3037 N Clark St in Chicago, and talked to Vrany recently. Read our article about this progressive restaurant and its owner.

Attend Green Town Chicago, May 21-22

Twenty-four break-out sessions on topics from biking to fighting childhood obesity to Illinois' home-grown renewable energy industry. Eighty-three brilliant, sustainability speakers and panelists. One Swedish ambassador. Oh, and a tasty, post-event, micro-brew reception. Add them up and what do you get? The GreenTown Chicago conference, held May 21-22, where today's best and brightest ideas will inspire tomorrow's sustainable solutions to fight climate change, improve people's health and spur regional resilience.

Green Community Connections members and other sustainability activists will find much to discover and learn at the conference, held at UIC Student Center East at 750 S. Halsted in Chicago. The location is easily accessible by bike, blue line, Metra or carpool.

Read on for 5 things you can learn by attending GreenTown Chicago.

Upcoming Community and Regional Events

Smart City USA Sign-ups:  Oak Park residential property owners should act now to be considered for a pilot project which includes installation of solar panels at no cost to the homeowner.  Link to the online Participant Interest form.

Green Town Chicago:  Wed - Thu, May 21-22. 2014, GreenTown Chicago: UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted, Chicago.

Keynote speaker on  Fracking, Frack-cidents & Frackonomics:  Thu, May 22, 7:30pm,  presented by William C. Rau, Professor Emeritus, Illinois State University, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Oak Park Main Library.

Oak Park Farmers' Market offers high quality, locally grown produce, every Saturday from May 24 through Nov. 1, 2014,  7 a.m. - 1 p.m.. The market is held in the Pilgrim Church Parking lot at 460 Lake St.

Chicken Farming Class:  Sat., May 24, 9am-11am, with Home to Roost founder, Jennifer Murtoff. Oak Park Conservatory, 615 Garfield St, Oak Park. 

Afterschool Outdoor Adventures:  Wed., May 28, Calling outdoor adventurers ages 7-12! Meet up for wilderness skill building, hiking, exploring, nature-based art making and more. Space is limited, so please call 708-771-1010 to reserve your spot. Thatcher Pavilion, 8030 Chicago Avenue, River Forest.

Sustainability Then and Now, Presented by the Frederick Law Olmstead Society, Sunday, June 1, 2014, noon to 5pm.  Visit 9 unique Riverside homes from Victorian to contemporary green build.



Are Low Level Pesticides and Other Common Chemicals Safe? Monday, June 16th, 2014, at 7:00pm, Oak Park Main Library, 834 Lake St, Dr Warren Porter, professor of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will speak on the biological effects of low level pesticide mixtures and other common chemical exposures.
Illinois Solar Energy Policy Action Alert!!
We all know how important clean energy is for our state. Since 2007, renewable energy has brought Illinois 20,000 jobs, saved our residents $177 million in wholesale electric prices, and removed 5 million tons of air pollution.
Due to a glitch in the RPS law (Renewable Portfolio Standard), last year zero new wind farms were built in our state, and minimal solar projects were installed.  But we can get Illinois back on track by updating this clean energy law to function in today's utility market.

The Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard Needs to be Fixed by The End Of May to Get Wind and Solar Power Up and Running Again!  Unfortunately, some of our leaders in Springfield have been stalling, and they won't take action unless they hear from their constituents that clean energy is a big priority for us.It is now crunch time to call Illinois representatives and senators to Fix the RPS.

Tell your Representatives to vote yes to pass HB 2864, your Senator to pass SB 0103 during this spring General Assembly which ends May 31. For more insight fact sheets and talking points are on the ISEA website.  Not sure who your legislators are or how to contact?  Here is the search tool.

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