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Posts from — June 2012

The First Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River Symphony

In a bold move to unite the people who live and work within the watershed basin of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, the International Secretariat for Water convened the Symphony to form a collective vision for protecting the precious shared resource. The Symphony was scheduled as a distinct but concurrent discussion alongside the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative’s Annual Meeting and Conference, which convened nearly 90 Mayor’s and municipal officials in Quebec City on July 26, 2012.

The Symphony – a two-day “think tank” of regional environmental groups, research scientists, artists, urban planners, and American Indian and First Nation tribes — required participants to present their vision for the basin in 2035 and beyond. These vision statements will be melded together as one and presented to political leaders from across the basin.

SOM’s own Philip Enquist attended the Symphony and found it a passionate and productive conversation about the issues and visionary solutions to sustain our shared resource. Enquist presented the Great Lakes Century vision and received a standing ovation for capturing the spirit of the Symphony’s mission.

To continue the fruitful conversation on our collective vision for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin, we would love ot hear your thoughts on the following:

What unites all of us who live in the basin?
What is important and what worries us about our waters?
What do we want to promote?
What is our vision for the basin in 2035?
How can we make our vision come true?

Raise your own to this symphony of voices!


June 28, 2012   Comments Off

What Our Water’s Worth

What Our Water’s Worth is a campaign led by the Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands to raise awareness about the value of water in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. Here is information from the WOWW site:

Programs in Chicago and the suburbs help property owners save water, energy, money and the environment

Dan Swick demonstrates proper use of a rain barrel at a Chicago Sustainable Backyards workshop at the Chicago Center for Green Technology. Photo Credit: Chicago Center for Green Technology


By Abby Crisostomo and Erin McMillan

Too often, heavy rains conjure flooded basements, murky pools of water mucking up neighborhood streets, damaged property – and hefty price tags for residents, business owners, and municipalities that have to clean up the mess. It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of rain being a nuisance, we can turn it into the free resource it should be by changing our built environment in large and small ways. Property owners in Chicago and its suburbs have support to help them do just that, thanks to a couple of unique, local organizations on a mission to help people not only weather the storms in their own backyards, but then do something productive with all that water.

In the City of Chicago, Sarah Abu-Absi manages the Sustainable Backyards Program, part of the city’s Dept. of Transportation and established by Chicago’s 2003 Water Agenda, which called attention to our need for water conservation and preservation. Chicago’s Sustainable Backyards Program provides residents with knowledge and incentives to help them create more environmentally friendly landscapes in their own yards. Signature initiatives include free educational workshops and a rebate program that offers up to 50 percent off local purchases of specific trees, native plants, rain barrels, and compost bins (helpful for providing nutrients for your new trees and native plants.)

In the suburbs, another Sarah – this time Sarah Surroz – runs the Conservation@Home program, managed in Lake County by Conserve Lake County and in Kane, Kendall, DuPage and Will counties by The Conservation Foundation. Conservation@Home is a public outreach program focused on both commercial and residential properties that promotes sustainable landscapes, water conservation, clean soil, and rich ecosystems.

Read on to learn how these local programs can help city and suburban residents and business owners save money, water, energy and the environment.

June 13, 2012   Comments Off