May eNews: More Artificial Turf?; The Year of Soils ; New Edible Gardening Group; ProAction Cafe #2 Success

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In this issue...
Connect to Action: Edible Gardening Cooperative
ProAction Cafe #2: Creativity Germinates Solutions
Keeping it REEL: No More Microbeads!


Natural Grass or Artificial Turf?

Many towns across the country are converting their natural grass fields to artificial turf. Following this trend, Oak Park has four artificial turf fields. Two new artificial fields are being added to the middle schools this summer and an additional proposed artificial surface is up for consideration at Barrie Park. That could be seven fields total by the end of 2016. This doesn't include the many new artificial playground areas that have been added to Scoville Park and the elementary schools.

But is this the wisest choice? The Park District is holding a meeting this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Barrie Center to get community input about the Barrie Park renovation. Please consider attending.

Continue reading for more details.

Staying Grounded with The Year of Soils

Whether it's black loam or brown humus, you can dig into the soil this spring to celebrate the International Year of Soils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is implementing, "Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life" to raise awareness about sustainable soil management in order to support food security and diverse ecosystems worldwide.

Not only is the quantity of viable soil diminishing, but its quality is in decline as well. Deforestation, overgrazing, urbanization, climate change, and raw materials extraction all reduce the amount of productive soil. To make things worse, erosion, salinization, compaction, sealing, over-fertilization and improper crop rotation 

Read more details from this story.

Join Edible Gardening Cooperative

An effort to encourage Oak Park area residents to plant more edible gardens got off to a promising start this spring. The idea gained traction through word-of-mouth promotion and flier distribution. Within a few days, more than 30 people had joined the email list of the Oak Park Area Edible Gardening Cooperative, and its new Twitter account had attracted 50-plus followers.

The gardening cooperative grew out of ongoing discussions among three Oak Park gardeners and environmental activists — Estelle Carol, Julie Samuels and Cassandra West. They believe that experienced gardeners and gardeners-in-training can combine their collective power to improve health in four vital areas: land, people, food and community.

Learn more about this effort here.


Creativity Germinates New Solutions

Seventy-five community residents gathered on May 4, in eight small groups at the Oak Park Main Library to develop ideas for action projects that promote a healthy, resilient community. Just a few examples of the creative ideas that came out of that lively dialogue are:

  • Create an open air festival with the Oak Park Art League in which artists would pant/draw/sculpt work that celebrates trees.
  • Develop "kick-ass" marketing to promote pesticide-free lawn care.

Read more details from this story.

As creator of the One Earth Film Festival, Green Community Connections believes in the power of film to inform, inspire and transform. Our Keeping It Reel feature curates short videos and feature-length film trailers that focus on a variety of sustainability and environmental issues that affect us all.  

Here is this month's selection:
Tiny plastic microbeads go from beauty products into our waterways. Toxins the beads absorb wind up in fish, which then wind up in us!  It's a vicious circle we can stop right now:



Upcoming Community and Regional Events

Wednesday, May 13, 7 p.m. Meeting to Discuss Artificial Turf vs. Natural Grass with the Park District of Oak Park, at Barrie Center, 1011 S. Lombard, in Oak Park.

Sunday, May 17, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.Living Landscapes: A Native Gardening Conference and Native Plant Sale, sponsored by West Cook Wild Ones, held at Dominican University, 7900 W. Division St., River Forest. Author Doug Tallamy will speak, and seven workshops with native plant experts will be on offer. Register here. Volunteering at the conference will grant you free admission. If this interests you, sign up for specific tasks and times here.

Sunday, May 17, 2 to 4 p.m., Know Your Cuts: Pruning Basics, at the Oak Park Conservatory, 615 Garfield St., in Oak Park. Mark Omi, Oak Park Conservatory Technician and Certified Arborist will show you the basics of pruning for shape, size, and character. Cost is $15 for Oak Park residents and $20 for non-residents.  Register here.

Saturday, May 23, 9 to 11 a.m.,
Spring Container Gardening, at Oak Park Conservatory, 615 Garfield St., in Oak Park. Learn about plant designs and choices for outdoor containers, creating one to take home.  Cost is $50 for residents and $75 for non-residents. Register here.

Wednesday, May 27, noon and 5 p.m., Free 40-minute version of
Shakespeare's Twelfth Night performed by Waldorf Theater Company, at the historic outdoor stone stage in Cummings Square, 536 N. Harlem, in River Forest. For more information, e-mail or call 708-386-4042, ext. 23. Details here.

Saturday, June 13, 9 to 11 a.m., Summer Containers, at the Oak Park Conservatory, 615 Garfield St., in Oak Park. Create unique and offbeat summer container design to take home.  Cost is $50 for residents and $83 for non-residents. Register here.

Thursday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
"Little Shop of Horrors," a family film, will be shown for Films in the Forest., at Thatcher Woods Pavilion, 8030 W. Chicago Ave., in River Forest. There will be family-friendly activities based on the film before it begins showing a dusk. Register here.

Friday, June 26, 6 to 8 p.m., The Oak Park Conservatory Uncorked, at the Oak Park Conservatory, 615 Garfield, in Oak Park. See local artists, listen to musicians, and take a tour of the Fern, Tropical and Desert rooms. Admission includes two drinks and food for $15. Adults only, register here.

Sunday, June 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Garden Club Garden Walk 2015 meets at Cheney Mansion, 220 N. Euclid Ave., in Oak Park. Cost is $15 in advance or $20 on the day of the event. Bring your PayPal receipt to exchange for garden guides to take the self-guided tour through nine private and three public gardens. Register at the Garden Club of Oak Park and River Forest. Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory also has more information, or call 708-725-2400.

Sunday, June 28, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
The Power of Observation: Making and Keeping a Nature Journal/Sketchbook with children's book author Sallie Wolf at The Priory, Room 259, Dominican University, 7200 W. Division, in River Forest. Adults and school-age children welcome (with an adult). Sponsored by West Cook Wild Ones.

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