Accelerating sustainability in 77 of Chicago's neighborhoods
In the fall of 2011, ICA USA launched a citywide program called Accelerate77, aimed at accelerating grassroots sustainability initiatives throughout Chicago’s 77 communities. Its underlying strategy was to identify current sustainabilty initiatives in each of the 77 communities; connect them with one another to inspire new ideas, practices, and motivation; and engage residents in systematic learning, planning and collective action.
ICA anticipated that by identifying sustainaiblity initiatives, the program would accelerate environmental sustainability in a bottom-up fashion. The program succeeded in identifying more than 900 initiatives that were connected to one another, resource providers, and policy makers in a city-wide Share Fair. Supported by a two-year grant from Boeing, the program was comprised of three phases: Identify, Connect and Collaborate.
Phase I Identify: With the assistance of ten Chicago university professors, 500 students did research in Chicago’s 77 communities, resulting in identifying 900 sustainability projects in Chicago. In July 50 students spent six weeks in a Leadership Development Course (for printing) and did the final documentation of community sustainability initiatives. This work verified that sustainability work was being done in every one of Chicago communities. The first three weeks of this course trained the youth leaders for the last three weeks of the course.
With Phase II Connect a Share Fair was held with each community highlighting their sustainability initiatives. the event drew more than 400 people and 140 community initiatives to Uptown’s Truman College. Each organization showed their current activities, future plans and connected with others during the day-long conference.
This led to Phase III Collaborate with the formation of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) a network of Chicago local activists and community organizations/organizers working in various communities.