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The Mission Continues…

Devotion to the Human Factor in Development in All Aspects of Society

ICA GreenRise.  In recent decades, the Kemper Building, the home of the ICA, has itself been a beacon of sorts of modern issues and concerns. From the past few years into the present, ICA staff have worked to make the building, now known as the “ICA GreenRise and Uptown Learning Laboratory,” totally environmentally sustainable by implementing an urban farm and installing 450 solar panels, the second largest array of roof-mounted solar panels in the city. 

Accelerate 77.  ne of the Institute’s ongoing initiatives has been Accelerate 77, an initiative to identify and work with local leaders in the seventy-seven communities of Chicago to make the city more environmentally sustainable while strengthening community and social bonds. This initiative began in the fall of 2011, when over 200 students from Chicago-area universities worked with the project to “deep-dive” into unfamiliar communities to identify leaders and systems at play while learning community organizing methodology, asset mapping, and other skills as part of their curriculum. This research helped the ICA prepare events to tap into these social networks with “connection events”, such as the Faith and Sustainability Forum, in 2012-2013 to allow participants to evaluate what efforts their communities have made toward sustainability and to learn what others have been doing. 

One spinoff of Accelerate77 was the creation of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) in September 2013 with the ICA the organizing sponsor until 2019.The CSLN connected grassroots leaders, activists, and organizers across the city’s many communities to share resources and strategies, collaborate, and to build partnership with policymakers. The CSLN secured support from citywide initiatives such as the Smart Grid education project that brought together educators, industry leaders, and other professionals concerned with environmental sustainability.



To say that the Institute of Cultural Affairs has radically changed in size and purpose since its creation in 1973 would be an understatement. More stories and details concerning the work of the ICA in Chicago and around the world undoubtedly remains to be written. The period of the ICA’s gradual de-centralization since the 1980s remains an under-explored and potentially rich period of examination for archivists and scholars within and beyond the organization. What cannot be denied, however, is the constancy of the Institute’s devotion to the human factor in development in all aspects of society.