Symphony of the Soil

Chicago Premiere of Symphony of the Soil at Facets Cinémathèque

Symphony of the Soil opens Friday, October 4 and runs through Thursday, October 10 at Facets Cinémathèque

Director Deborah Koons Garcia will be present for a QandA post screening on Friday (10/4), Saturday (10/5) and Sunday (10/6) evening programs.

Symphony of the Soil is a new feature-length documentary from Deborah Koons Garcia (The Future of Food) that explores the complexity and mystery of soil. Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world’s most highly esteemed soil scientists, farmers, and activists, the film portrays soil as a protagonist of our planetary story. In a skillful mix of art and science, soil is revealed to be a living organism, the foundation of life on earth. Most people are soil-blind and “treat soil like dirt.” With the knowledge and wisdom revealed in this film, we can come to respect, even revere, this miraculous substance. The film inspires the understanding that treating the soil right can help solve some of our most pressing environmental problems, from climate change, to dead zones, to feeding an ever increasing world population.

Advance tickets available from the Facets Cinémathèque here.

For more information about Symphony of the Soil or to follow on Facebook and Twiiter:


Green Apple Day of Service – Sign Up Today!

Green Apple BannerThe 2013 Green Apple Day of Service is quickly approaching!  What are your plans?  This fall, the US Green Building Council-Illinois Chapter is inviting schools and volunteers to join this international initiative.  Participants will support a local campus sustainability project in September-October, build new connections, and earn community service or credential maintenance hours.  Check out our Project Suggestions and Sign Up Today!

Use participatory design to transform Chicago communities

Archeworks 2013-14 Certificate Program_Postcard

Join Archeworks 2013-14 Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Urban Design program and collaborate on public interest design partnerships with NeighborSpace and the Regional Transportation Authority.

We are seeking emerging and mid-career participants with experience in urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, user experience, industrial design, communications/graphic design, wayfinding and related areas of expertise to join an Archeworks design team on one of these projects.

Community Garden Design Innovation: Preserving Urban Growing Space
Partner: NeighborSpace
Develop design strategies to assist this Chicago network of 85 volunteer-led community gardens. Strengthen community engagement, improve garden productivity, and promote stewardship of neighborhood space.

Enhancing the Public Transit Experience through Integrated Design
Partner: Regional Transportation Authority
Bring integrated design thinking to a busy multi-modal transportation center in Chicago.  Enhance customer experience, improve communication and wayfinding systems, and promote the station as an accessible hub for commuters, tourists and neighborhood residents.

Interested candidates are encouraged to submit an application ASAP. We will continue to accept applications on a space-available basis until the program starts on September 24, 2013. Visit for more information and to download application materials.

Archeworks is a multidisciplinary design educator that advances design in the public interest and inspires collaborative action to shape healthy, sustainable and equitable communities.

Greencorps Chicago is greening the city & changing lives

Greencorps Chicago is a green industry job-training program for Chicago residents with barriers to employment. Their mission is to train local residents for work in a variety of fields related to the environment and sustainability. In addition to hands-on training for jobs from horticulture to carpentry, Greencorps Chicago trainees can pursue professional certifications to build their qualifications for advanced positions.

Transit Connect GreencorpsOperation Better World, a community engagement initiative between Ford Motor Company Fund and area Ford dealers, has just donated a 2013 Transit Connect to Greencorps to help Greencorps Chicago realize its goals and transport trainees and supplies to community gardening, landscaping, ecological restoration and other program-related projects in the Chicagoland area.

“We are extremely grateful for Ford’s commitment to the environment and their generous investment in our neighborhoods,” says Geoff Deigan, president, WRD Environmental. “Their partnership with the Greencorps program is improving both the quality of life and land in our communities across Chicago.”

But Greencorps is doing more than changing our city; it’s changing lives.

Meet Wendell Sanford, a Greencorps Chicago trainee whose life has been altered by and through the opportunities afforded through his training. Wendell and his colleagues been given an opportunity to learn important, transferable job skills that empower them to help make the city a better, greener, more beautiful place to live and work and, more importantly, inspire hope for their futures.  Wendell Sanford on the job

Wendell told us what it was like working at Greencorps, and why he’s excited about his future.

  1. Describe a typical day for you training at Greencorps? What job skills have you learned?

Our team does all sorts of projects around Chicagoland including ecological restoration of our forest preserves, landscaping along the expressways, carpentry, and planting trees for schools around the area to name a few. I’m so grateful for all the skills I’ve picked up. In just five months, I’ve been licensed in pesticides, handling and disposing of hazardous materials, chain saw and chipper training, flagging, OSHA, defensive driving. I’ve received every certification and license that Greencorps offers.

  1. What is your proudest achievement at Greencorps?

I’m most proud of a project we’re working on right now with the Chicago Department of Transportation. We’re beautifying the landscapes in the medians from State Street over to Lake Michigan and picking up waste. It’s really making a difference and making the city look so much better! Being a part of this project has made me realize that I have a talent for landscaping and I’m really interested in this field.

  1. How has the job changed from when you first started training with Greencorps?

Since I’ve earned all the certifications, I’ve gained so much knowledge that I am able to help a lot more when our team is out in the field. I’m more of a leader to the crew – they ask me questions and I’m able to help them. I might still be a trainee, but now I can handle anything they put in front of me.

Another big change is that when I first started, we only had large industrial vehicles to transport our team and our equipment to job sites. It was difficult because we couldn’t get into certain lanes on the expressways or drive our trucks on Lake Shore Drive. But Ford Motor Co. just donated a 2013 Ford Transit Connect vehicle to Greencorps, so we’ve been able to get all our people and equipment loaded in one vehicle, and we can get to the job sites faster. It’s been amazing to have a dependable vehicle so that we can continue doing our work as efficiently as possible. I know all the other trainees are really grateful, too.

  1. What do you plan to do after graduation?

After I graduate from Greencorps in January, I’ve realized I love this work so much I plan to start my own landscaping company. I’m so passionate about beautification and green practices, and I feel that I can use what I’ve learned at Greencorps to have my own business. I would like to take some college classes and continue training and furthering my skills in green, sustainable practices, too, but opening my own business is my first priority, and I can’t wait!

  1. How has training at Greencorps changed your life or your outlook on the green movement?

Before I worked at Greencorps, I didn’t know much about the green movement. Now I’ve learned how certain things can save energy and make the environment healthier and more sustainable. It’s all about learning how things work, and how harmful the things we constantly use can be to the environment. Usually, there’s a better choice we can make that will help the environment. Learning at Greencorps was a breath of fresh air. It helped me, day by day, do my part to make the air and the environment better.


Wheels, Energy and Trash Hackathon – 8/24

Wheels, Energy and Trash Hackathon

The City of Chicago, Worldwide Wildlife Fund and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum seek innovative civic coders, environmental policymakers, and business professionals interested in addressing Chicago’s important sustainability issues through technological advancement and big data analysis!

The Hackathon will take place at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Free parking is available at the museum and on the street, however, it can fill up quickly on a Saturday. Multiple-bus lines drop-off and pick-up right in front of the museum and there is a Divvy station located in front of the museum.


Sustainability Topics: This Hackathon will address three areas of sustainability:

  • Energy efficiency, supporting Mayor Emanuel’s  Sustainable Chicago 2015 goal 3 to “Improve citywide energy efficiency by 5%.”
  • Public transportation ridership, supporting Mayor Emanuel’s  Sustainable Chicago 2015 goal 6 to “Increase average daily transit ridership.”
  • Waste diversion, supporting Mayor Emanuel’s  Sustainable Chicago 2015 goal 20, to “Increase access to recycling and improve policies to promote waste reduction and re-use.”

Prizes & Judging:

  • Prizes of over $2,000!
  • Judges will include leaders in the fields of technology and sustainability


8:30 – 9:00 am: Sign-In & Breakfast

9:00 – 9:30 am:  Keynote Address & Event Overview

9:30 – 10:30 am: Opportunity Briefings: Facilitated discussion, dataset review, and team creation on waste, transit, and energy tracks

10:30 – 3:30 pm: Team Working Time (Lunch Provided)

3:30 – 5:00 pm: Team Presentations, Judging, & Awards

5:00 – 7:00+ pm: Off-Site Reception & Networking

Optional policy & technical skills workshops will be offered throughout the day!

Climate Cycle’s Dunes to Downtown Ride

Choose a route: 62 miles or 125 miles

Location: 62 mile riders will begin at the Dunes National Park and conclude in Chicago. 125 mile riders will begin in Chicago, ride to the Dunes, camp out under the stars, and bike back to Chicago the next day.

Dates: Saturday, August 17 & Sunday, August 18, 2013

The ride is fully supported, including snacks and beverages at rest stops, all meals (late lunch, dinner, and breakfast at the Dunes, and late lunch upon arrival in Chicago), a SAG wagon, and ride marshals.

Riders also receive a t-shirt and goody bag!

Register today!

Once you’ve registered, customize your personal fundraising page and begin your fundraising campaign! Riders are required to meet fundraising minimums (see below) that go towards funding solar panel arrays and environmental projects in Chicagoland schools.

Rider Type Route Fundraising Minimum
Adult 62 miles $500
Adult 125 miles $1000
College student 62 miles $200
College student 125 miles $400
High school student 62 miles $200
High school student 125 miles $400

The registration fee for ALL riders is $30.

Announcing the Sustainable Backyards Ambassadors Program!

Do you want to learn about composting, rain gardens, and other green infrastructure solutions on a more technical level?

Do you want to give back and be involved in bettering Chicago’s environment by educating your community?

Join us in creating a more sustainable Chicago by becoming a Sustainable Backyards Ambassador!
As an Ambassador, you will:

– Receive in-depth training on urban flooding issues, green infrastructure solutions, rain garden installation, rainwater harvesting, and composting

– Meet and connect with experts in flooding control, green infrastructure, and sustainability in Chicago

– Lead efforts to help Chicago residents reduce flooding, control stormwater runoff, and keep food waste out of landfills

– Have fun meeting new people and connecting with your community
Sustainable Backyards Ambassadors must attend one mandatory training session, which will be held from 5:30pm – 9:30pm on Tuesday, August 20 at the Center for Neighborhood Technology (2125 W. North Ave). Experts on the topics of urban flooding, green infrastructure, rain garden installation, urban forestry, and composting will give in-depth presentations on their technical area of expertise, including detailed instructions on installing rain gardens, planting trees, and composting science. You will leave with a resource book and a more thorough understanding of the Sustainable Backyards program itself. After the training, you will have the knowledge to educate your community on why and how to bolster its use of green infrastructure.

A $40 deposit is required to participate in the program, and will be refunded in full upon completion of 40 hours of volunteering with the program. Activities that count toward these hours will include attending official Sustainable Backyards events, giving presentations about the program and green infrastructure at community events, organizing your own related events in your community or organization, writing blog posts, and more! We will provide educational materials and organizational support throughout your time with the program.

Please RSVP for the training session here. Email with any questions or for more information.