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May Meeting Recap with Jason Michnick

Updated: Jun 15

This past week at our monthly meeting, Greener Grove and PDHA had the honor of hosting Jason Michnick, Village of Downers Grove’s first ever Environmental Sustainability Coordinator. Michnick was hired for this role in January 2024, as a result of Greener Grove’s petitioning and support for the Village to reinstate and engage with the Environmental Concerns Commission to prepare and implement an impactful sustainability plan. We urged the Village to adhere to the most aggressive plan they had outlined, which included hiring a Sustainability Coordinator to facilitate the growth of sustainability in our village. 

Greener Grove's May 28 Meeting was held at the Downers Grove Public Library; 36 people were in attendance.

In the past few months, the Village of Downers Grove has begun planning for four separate plans: the comprehensive plan, mobility plan, sustainability plan, and streetscape plan. This planning is called “Guiding DG”, and these plans are the 20-year aspirational vision that will be able to guide more actionable short term goals to go into the village’s future two-year plans. Check out the Guiding DG website to find more information on this process. 

In that capacity, Michnick attended our meeting to present on the importance of regional and local sustainability policy. As members of the Greenest Region Compact, an important charter for the Chicagoland region with 284 municipalities, each local municipality has the opportunity to develop a successful model for environmental stewardship in a suburban context with the framework of the compact as a guide. Michnick posited that Downers Grove has the ability to learn from, innovate and become a leader within this region, and that together, with our neighboring villages,  we can make a measurable difference. Michnick also pointed out that partnerships within the village with groups like Greener Grove and Pierce Downers Heritage Alliance, are essential to achieving our environmental goals. 

With that, Michnick asked our group what environmental practices we would like to see the village prioritize. A lively discussion ensued, and group participants listed and discussed 19 issues: preparing for the impacts of climate change, tree preservation, single-use plastics, banning harmful lawn chemicals, light pollution, and food waste, to name a few. In general, it was difficult for participants to put the issues in priority order because all of it matters. After much discussion, it became clear that the group’s top priority was creating public awareness and a culture of environmental stewardship in Downers Grove. 

Michnick facilitates discussion while keeping track of environmental priorities for Downers Grove residents.

More data and discussion is needed to determine which actions will have the most impact on sustainability metrics in Downers Grove. 

Michnick’s visit to our May Greener Grove meeting was one of several stops. In order to get an understanding of what the residents of DG want in this plan, Michnick has visited middle and high schools, senior residence homes, and has held an open house. Through these information-gathering initiatives, the whole community has had the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on which environmental issues are most pressing. The plan will then be put together using this community input combined with studies that are underway about the current climate conditions in DG. These studies include a partnership with Argonne National Laboratory to collect data in order to better predict the climate conditions in 50 years. Studies, along with the guidance from the Greenest Region Compact objectives, let us know where we are now and what we can do to make progress. 

What can I do to help?

  • Provide your input. Fill out the surveys on the Guiding DG website.

  • Volunteer to be a data collector for Argonne’s study. Find out more at Guiding DG Sustainability here

  • Talk to your neighbors, friends, and families about environmental concerns! One conversation can spark change.

  • Join us at our next monthly meeting, Thursday, June 27th, at 6:30 pm, for a Tree Walk with Urban Forester/Educator Steve Ruffolo.

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