Photo courtesy of Bronzeville Alliance Green Team

By Maureen Wilkey, Akrete Communications

Information provided by The Field Museum, an EcoMyths Alliance partner.

Living in the city, it’s easy to feel like high rises outnumber trees and people are more numerous than plants—but that doesn’t mean we can’t create sustainable communities to reduce our impact on the environment. Four Chicago neighborhoods are trying to prove that with the help of the Field Museum’s Making Climate Change Local initiative.

Representatives from Bronzeville, Forest Glen, Pilsen, and South Chicago are working with The Field Museum on implementing recommended changes in their communities, from growing their own food in community gardens to helping residents rehab their homes in a sustainable way. The plans use guidelines set out by the Chicago Climate Action Plan and Chicago Wilderness’s Climate Action Plan for Nature.

We were excited to see young people leading the way in Forest Glen, where Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts posted pictures of their straw bale gardens to Flickr to show the grown-ups how it’s done. They’re also helping residents set up bat boxes (because as we reported last year, bats are our friends) and rain retention barrels.

In South Chicago, the Claretian’s South Chicago Retrofit Program is providing a backdrop for green redevelopment. The program helps home and building owners green their buildings and add art to make the community greener and safer. The climate change program provides tours of the community to show local residents what they can do themselves to lend a hand.

The Pilsen community brought its heritage to the community, developing a Mexican-themed mural garden that will attract Monarch butterflies, and hopefully children looking for a healthy lifestyle. The garden will host structured activities for children to learn about environmentally friendly habits, as well as bike tours to promote activity and green transportation for adults.

The Bronzeville Alliance Green Team is solving two problems at once with its community garden. In addition to helping green the community, the garden is providing fresh produce for what might otherwise be considered a food desert. And local chefs are lending a hand, too, by providing cooking demonstrations for the healthy food available in the garden.

So you don’t have to go all the way out to the boonies to do something for the environment: change is happening now in our own backyards.