Saturday, February 16th

Last updateMon, 10 Dec 2018 2pm

 About the Project

In 2011, the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) launched a citywide project called accelerate77, aimed at accelerating grassroots sustainability initiatives throughout Chicago’s 77 community areas. The project did this by identifying the initiatives and connecting them to one another, resource providers, and policy makers in a city-wide Sharing Approaches that Work Conference. The accelerate77 project has led to the formation of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN). As the organizing sponsor of the network, ICA is currently engaging members of the CSLN, a network of local activists and community organizations/organizers throughout Chicago, in collaborative change making efforts.

 Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network
Fifth Year Anniversary Recap

Within hours of breaking down and packing up the party lights, leftover food and drink, Polaroid pictures, flyers and banners, the praise began on social media. One member wrote on Facebook that the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) was “the best time I have had all year.” Another posted a photo captioned “What a terrific evening!! Loved the vibe, food, drinks and especially the people.” Additional praise came through word of mouth, with a newcomer remarking that the event “made my life” and a long-time member calling it “a dream come true.”

On November 30th, 2018, over 70 people gathered at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to celebrate five years of community collaboration. Seven large glass windows along the wall were filled with hanging displays of milestones from those five years—reports, photos, flyers, and more from key projects, partnerships, and events. See the timeline in digital form here.

Members who had their photo taken by Polaroid camera chose to sign and hang the picture on the spot on the wall where they first came to CSLN.

Four businesses sponsored the event with beverage donations. Lagunitas, which donated to a previous CSLN event at the Nature Museum, donated the beer. A network member whose family owns Wide River Winery generously shared their wine. Another member connected with Chicago-based Apologue and brought their responsibly-sourced celery root liqueur. Finally, newcomer The Tandem Way Cafe supplied homemade cold brew. Thank you to all our sponsors:


It took three sheets to tabloid-size paper to print out the banner of logos from all of CSLN’s partners who have hosted or organized CSLN activities over the past five years:

Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network
Meeting Recap

Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network at Literacenter
Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network met on Thursday, November 1st at the Literacenter. Thank you to Erin McCann of Chicago Literacy Alliance for hosting us and offering a tour of the innovative space. Over 135 member organizations make their homes, attend programs, form partnerships, serve students, create collaborations, and accelerate their work at the Literacenter.
After the tour and introductions, members spent some time planning for the Fifth Year Anniversary Celebration before giving feedback on the work of the Policy Team.


Working Group Updates


CSLN gathers as a full group every other month with collaborative working groups meeting in the interim. No need to wait until May—you're invited to connect with a working group on current initiatives! See detail below:


Nourish (comm)Unity

Collaborative Projects Group

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Goal: Engage residents in holistic sustainability and grow peer-to-peer relationships through collaboration.

Discussion: The group finalized details of the upcoming Uptown coastal event, set the intergenerational connectivity event for May, and began planning outreach for the upcoming biking event. Also in the works is a civic tech event in October with Windsor Park Lutheran Church.

Next Steps: Update the outreach email for partners, share facilitator guides, and reach out to contacts on the West Side and bike-related organizations.

Get Involved: If you are interested in partnering on the upcoming events, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">Samantha.



CSLN Storytelling

Collaborative Publications Group

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Goal: Showcase member sustainability work and resources and articulate the impact of CSLN as a network.

Discussion: The group agreed to focus on member-to-member connections with an asset-based lens, seeking what members need and have to share. The goal is to create a nimble database and timely connections.

Next Steps: The group will test current format and begin collecting stories, assets, needs, and more.

Get Involved: If you are interested in telling the story of your individual passion, organization, or CSLN collaboration, please submit your story today via our online form or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



In-Between Space

Policy Group

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Goal: Nurture the "in-between space" of collaborative governance where community initiatives intersect with municipal efforts for change.

Discussion: The group reviewed the agenda for the March 22nd Roundtable with City of Chicago representatives and discussed themes emerging from CSLN initiatives as models for community engagement.

Next Steps: The group will set the next quarterly Roundtable and explore areas of alignment between the City's plans and CSLN priority policy areas.

Get Involved: If you are interested in the policy group and would like to know more, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



CSLN Business Cards are Here!
Members at the meeting suggested that it would be beneficial to outreach on behalf of CSLN at community events. We created CSLN business cards to help with this exact situation! If you are hosting an event, networking, or talking to members of your community, we encourage you to use these printable business cards to invite others to learn more about and join the CSLN.