Thursday, November 8, 2012

Save Energy this Winter: Take these Small Steps

$       Lower Your Thermostat.
$       Set Your Thermostat to 65 Degrees (or lower) at Night instead of 70 Degrees.
$       Switch to a Programmable Thermostat so Heat can be Turned Down Automatically at Night or While you are at Work.
$       Get Your Heating System Tuned Up by a Service Professional Annually.
A service professional will know how to keep your heating system running most efficiently, saving you money on your utility bills.
$        Change Your Furnace Filter Regularly or When Dirty. 
$       Keep Doors Leading Outside Closed As Much As Possible.
This will help maintain the warmth in your house by reducing cold air coming inside.
$       Use Window Treatments to Help Keep Your Home Stay Warm.
Curtains and blinds add an extra layer of insulation around your windows.  Closing them at night will help keep the warm air in; opening them during the day will allow the sun to warm your home.
$       Close Your Fireplace Flue when You're Not Using It.
            This will help eliminate drafts and keep the warm air inside your home.
$       Install and Use a Ceiling Fan.
Ceiling fans set at a low-speed in a clockwise direction circulate warm air away from the ceiling and move it around the room.
$       Lower the Temperature of Your Hot Water Heater. (110 degrees or lower)
$       Switch to Real Time Pricing for Your Electricity. 
See or call 1-877-WattSpot 
$       Monitor Your Energy Use.
Join Citizens Utility Board (CUB) Energy Saver to track your energy use and earn reward points for savings.  Points are redeemable at many national retailers.  See 
$       Get a Home Energy Audit.
        Have a BPI or RESNET certified expert identify your biggest opportunities for improvement before you start investing in expensive items around your home—this can save you thousands of dollars and years of frustration.
$       Seal Air Leaks Around Your Home, Particularly Your Windows, with Caulk or Weather Stripping. 
Install weather stripping to alleviate air leaks around windows and doors located between heated and unheated areas.
·      Air leaks around the window and door trim should be caulked, as well as around cove and baseboard molding on exterior walls.
·      Insulated covers should be installed on electrical outlets and switches located on exterior walls.
·      Plastic film insulation can also be applied on windows and sliding patio doors that won't be used in the winter.
·      If window unit air conditioners cannot be removed, they should be covered with plastic and air leaks sealed with foam rope and removable caulk.
$       Air Seal & Insulate Your Attic.
It's one of the most cost-effective savings measures you can take, and you may be able to do it yourself!  Crawl spaces and walls are other key areas for air sealing and insulation.
$       Upgrade to a High Efficiency Gas Furnace or Boiler.
Replacing your old furnace with a more energy efficiency one can save you hundreds annually. 
Get a rebate for $600 for boilers, $500 for furnaces and $100 for boiler reset controls through November 30, 2012—see  Federal tax credits may also be available on boilers and furnaces.
$        Insulate Your Exterior Walls. 
This will help to maintain a consistent temperature in your home, keeping it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
$       If you are Having Trouble Paying your Utility Bills, Contact The National Energy Assistance Referral Project.

The National Energy Assistance Referral Project is a free service for people who are interested in applying for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which may pay a portion of the energy bills of eligible low-income persons.  Call 1-866-674-6327 or email

Monday, Nov 26th, Sulzer Library - An Evening with Your Drafty House

Chicagoans vote yes on municipal aggregation, provoking cheers and skepticism

Chicago voters have approved a ballot referendum authorizing the city to move forward with municipal aggregation, wherein the city will buy electricity on behalf of close to one million residents.
City officials had promoted aggregation primarily as a way to save money for ratepayers, compared to the rates they would have been paying to get electricity through the utility ComEd. Meanwhile popular support for aggregation was driven largely by the hope that it will facilitate the purchase of more renewable energy and ideally the creation of new renewable generation.
Unofficial returns from the Chicago Board of Elections show the measure passing with 56 percent approval.
Voters in 221 Illinois municipalities also faced ballot referendums dealing with aggregation Tuesday.
Electricity aggregation referenda were also on the way to passing in a number of Chicago suburbs, including the south and west side working class suburbs of Hillside, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills and Calumet City; and well-off northern suburbs including Glenview and Inverness. The vote was close in other Chicago suburbs, including the south side towns of Blue Island and Dolton.
Since the state legislature passed a law allowing municipal aggregation in 2009, more than 250 communities have taken that route.

Read More For the Next steps!!!!

What Is Electrical Aggregation?

What Is Electrical Aggregation?

Simply put, electrical aggregation allows municipalities to negotiate lower electrical rates on behalf of residents and small businesses. The City of Chicago is asking voters to support a ballot initiative in favor of aggregation on November 6th.  If the measure passes, the City would be able to use the bargaining power of close to 1 million Chicagoans to get electricity supplied to us by one or more alternative suppliers (e.g.; First Energy, Constellation, or Integrys Energy Services). ComEd would still be responsible for the delivery of power and maintenance of the electrical grid, but the portion of your electricity bill that says “Supply” would likely go down and you would continue to receive just 1 monthly bill.

The Northcenter Neighborhood Association supports this ballot initiative for the following reasons:

1)   SAVINGS – According to the Chicago Tribune, more than 200 Illinois villages and cities approved aggregation since last March and have seen yearly savings for residential customers ranging from $200-$300.
2)   FLEXIBILITY – Homeowners who want to opt out of the program should be able to do so. This would likely be true whether you get your electricity supply through ComEd or if you already have a contract with an alternative electricity supplier.
3)   GUARANTEE – Many municipalities have negotiated clauses into their contracts with alternative suppliers that if their rates go higher than ComEd, residents and businesses will only have to pay the matching rate or lower.
4)   GOING GREEN - Municipalities have already taken advantage of aggregation and some villages like Oak Park are even getting 100% or their energy from renewable sources.

We support the possibility of getting 100% of North Center’s electricity from renewable sources and reducing the neighborhood’s greenhouse-gas footprint. We encourage you to support the ballot initiative on November 6th.

Here are some additional informative links about the Chicago electricity referendum:

City of Chicago Website for Electricity Aggregation
Sun-Times article from Tuesday, 10/23/12

Friday, October 12, 2012

20% Discount to Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago

Building a Future Guided by Nature 
November 2nd - 4th
UIC Student Center East
750 S. Halsted

Elizabeth Wenscott who is the head of NNA's Environmental Committee is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago conference has graciously set up a discount code for any Resident Members or Social Members of  Northcenter Neighborhood Association to receive a 20% discount on any portion of this event. Just note that you will only have until October 19th at midnight to use this coupon!

All you would need to do is go to and choose the type of ticket you want (Standard, NGO / 1-Day, 3-day etc.) then enter the promotional code NCNA. Feel free to share this news!

You can also Volunteer and Half Day and Get the Other Half Day Free!

ABOUT GLBC: On November 2-4, Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago will host its first annual conference at UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted.  For three exciting days, participants will have the opportunity to join international, national, and local visionaries in a program of presentations and interactive workshops interwoven with music, drama, dance, poetry and celebration. 

Our theme, Chicago the Living City, will bring together innovators from all walks of life to exchange ideas, build networks, and experience the power of visions guided by a philosophy that the responses to our city’s most significant environmental, social, and economic challenges must be in harmony with the wisdom and proven design of natural systems.  

• Keynotes and Flash Talks by leaders in the environmental and social justice movements.
• Empowering, interactive panels and workshops
• Inspiring art, music, poetry, drama, and dance
• Youth-related workshops and activities
• Exhibit Hall showcasing Chicago’s change makers
• Facilitated discussions designed to move the dialogue beyond the event

Learn how to turn today’s most pressing challenges into just solutions that restore and heal our planet.
Richard Heinberg - Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute
Dr. Vandana Shiva - Author, internationally renowned scientist and food justice activist
Nina Simons - Co-Founder, National Bioneers
John Edel - Eco-preneur and founder of The Plant, Chicago’s first vertical farm and food business incubator
Starhawk - Author/voice of earth-based spirituality, activist, and ecofeminist
Dr. Gerould Wilhelm - World-class botanist and Director of the Conservation Research Institute
Mark Lakeman - Urban placemaker, Communitecture

Monday, October 1, 2012

Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago, The Living City

Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago, The Living City November 2-4, 2012-Chicago, becomes the largest Bioneers city in the nation!

Bioneers (root: "biological pioneer") the term describes individuals and groups working in diverse disciplines who have crafted creative solutions to various environmental and socio-cultural problems rooted in shared core values, including whole systems, (anticipatory) thinking, a view of all life as interdependent, and sustainable mutual aid.

Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago invites you to join local and international visionaries to create nature-inspired solutions to society’s most important challenges. Programming for all ages, including speakers, workshops, visual and performing arts, and an exhibit hall. Keynotes by Vandana Shiva, Nina Simons, John Edel, Gerould Wilhelm, Mark Lakeman, Starhawk, and Richard Heinberg. 

GLBC will also have many amazing local people presenting or organizing this event! Jean Russell, Laurel Ross, Elizabeth Wenscott (volunteer coordinator), Michael Howard, Howard Alan, Working Bikes, The Dill Pickle Co-op, Kathleen Duffy, Home Birth in Chicago, Sarah Simmons, Intentional Housing and Co-housing, Sarah Kaplan, Terry Edlin, Ameya Pawar, Joe Moore, David Arfa, James Thindwa, Gerould Wilhelm, Sue Davenport, Nance Klehm, Pete Leki, Julie Peterson, LaManda Joy, Kenn Dunn, Eli Suzukovich, Milton Dixon, Vandana Shiva, Starhawk, Mark Lakeman, and so many more! 

If you are interested in attending this incredible event, please follow this link
Also note: Volunteer for One-Half Day you will  Get in the Other Half Free!

Parkway Corner Initiative Video

This short video (without music or sound) was created for Laurel Ross when presenting a ”TED style” talk with photos showing how people are making a difference in restoring health to natural areas in the Chicago region on three scales:  in the entire metro region (Chicago Wilderness); at a forest preserve site on the far southside (Beaubien Woods); and on parkway corners in a neighborhood (Northcenter Neighborhood Association). Restoration in our region has been led by small grassroots groups and people of all backgrounds. Large institutions have followed their lead.  

Her next presentation that will include the Parkway Corner Inititative, will take place at the Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago on Sunday November 4th, 4:00-4:30

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flower Power: Northcenter Garden Walk on Saturday

The Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s Garden Walk, set for June 16, is a great opportunity to see how the other half lives. And by “other half,” we mean the kind of people who know the difference between a dahlia and zinnia.

For the rest of the article written by Patty Wetli, go to

Sunday, June 10, 2012

6th Annual Northcenter Garden Walk

The 6th Annual Northcenter Neighborhood Assoc. Garden Walk, Saturday June 16.

47 gardens, a 137 plot community garden, 8 live bands, and several artists showing their work!!!

There are two starting points to pick up maps  1. Bell School 3730 N. Oakley  and 2. Epiphany Church  2008 w. Bradley (and Damen).  Suggested donation is $5 and proceeds go to the Common Pantry.
Believe me, this is a really amazing event if you are a will come away inspired and happy!

Please share!

Montrose Green Vegetable Garden

An organic pop-up garden in Ravenswood is giving restaurants a chance to grow their own food.
By David Tamarkin
TimeOut Chicago
June 7, 2012
Mercedes Prause, Elizabeth Wenscott, Lisa Hish, Karen Carter, and Julie Hobert 

The plot of land just west of the Montrose Brown Line stop had been empty for years. A sign on the lot had long promised a mixed-use building featuring apartments and office space. Never was there any mention of a community vegetable garden.
Yet that is exactly what the lot, known as Montrose Green, has become. Due to a collaboration of three entities—the Northcenter Neighborhood Association (specifically, the association’s Greening of Northcenter initiative), the Peterson Garden Project and Harrington Brown, the real-estate company that owns the land—the once-empty stretch of gravel is now 137 organic vegetable garden beds of various sizes.
Lisa Hish, a member of NNA and the coordinator of the project (which is 100 percent volunteer run), says she and her cohorts searched for a plot of land for 18 months before finding this one. “We surveyed 40-some properties,” she says. “Landlords wouldn’t talk to us.” It wasn’t until March that David Brown, founder of Harrington Brown, agreed to lend the land for two years. (Hish says NNA is already searching for land where it can transfer the garden, which is entirely on raised beds, in 2013.) Within three weeks, the garden was a reality.
Most of the plots were reserved for individuals and families; those went for $65 each and sold out within 24 hours of announcing the project (47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were given honorary plots). But 20 plots have been deemed “grow to give”—where volunteers will grow vegetables and donate them to a food bank—and 12 were reserved for neighborhood restaurants, also for $65. Among those who signed up:City ProvisionsBlue Sky BakeryBad AppleApart PizzaMrs. Murphy and Sonsthe FountainheadBrowntrout and Café 28.
“We jumped on it,” says Ricardo Miranda, who owns Café 28 with his mother, Berta Navarro. Miranda isn’t really a gardener—in fact, this will be the first time he tries growing vegetables—but “we wanted to learn a little bit more about farm-to-table and what we can do,” he says. In keeping with his restaurant’s focus, he planted what he calls “a Latin-based plot” of tomatoes, tomatillos, poblano and jalapeño peppers and herbs such as epazote. The 3-by-10-foot plots used by restaurants are not big enough to supply all, or even a majority of, an eatery’s produce. So Miranda has plans for his crops to be an “added value” to dishes: The tomatoes may turn into a salsa that will finish a dish; the herbs may go into salad dressing. “It will help lower costs, [because we won’t be] spending a lot on microgreens,” Miranda says. But saving money is not really the point. “The intangible part is that it’s inspiring us to do more.”
Chef Rick Miranda of Cafe 28.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Northcenter Community Yard Sale

Click on this map to make larger, then select print. Here is the official Northcenter Community Yard Sale map!

The Northcenter Neighborhood Association has organized a community garage sale for this coming weekend – June 2nd (June 3rd rain date). Sales will be taking place from 9am-3pm and are located all over Northcenter (Montrose to Addison and Ravenswood to the River).

There are more than 60 families participating and it looks like it will be great weekend to do some local shopping.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Urban Conservation and Biodiversity Is Right Around the Corner

Photo by: Sarah Tilotta

By Patty Wetli

To the untrained eye, the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s Parkway Corners Initiative appears to be little more than a beautification effort, swapping out turf for pretty plants and flowers. To Laurel Ross, Urban Conservation Director at the Field Museum, it looks like part of a biodiversity recovery plan.

“A lot of conservation focuses on the protected areas,” said Ross, who also works with the North Branch Restoration Project. “Those are all very much islands.” In linking NBRP with Parkway Corners, the goal is to connect those islands and create a corridor of friendly habitats for birds, butterflies, bumblebees and bats in between traditional preserves. In that vein, think of street corners like rest areas along the highway.

Follow this link for the rest of this article

Monday, May 7, 2012

NNA Annual Yard/Garage Sale

Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle
Saturday June 2, 2012
(rain date: Sunday June 3)

Pick up map at 2037 W. Bradley Place

Bird List - Chicago River, Berteau to Montrose

Below is a list of birds spotted during one day! 4/30/12 Clearly the river and the green space up and down the river is a great asset to all of us and one we should continue to take great care of.

Canada Goose  15
Mallard  8
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Green Heron  2
Ring-billed Gull  3
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  2
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  3
Barn Swallow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  12
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  3
Northern Waterthrush  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  20
White-crowned Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Common Grackle  6
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  10

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Special Event with Speakers Rinda West and Laurel Ross

Rinda West
Laurel Ross

Wed. May 2, Revere Park Field House, Special Event, 7 pm.  NNA's Environmental Committee will host speakers Rinda West (Rinda West Landscape Designs, and Laurel Ross (Urban Conservation Director, Environmental and Conservation Programs - Field Museum) who will talk about:
  • the advantages of gardening with native plants
  • where to plant native plants in your home garden or public parkways
  • how to identify native plants
  • and, conservation efforts taking place throughout the Chicago region
This is an event not to be missed!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Greening of Northcenter, One Plant at a Time

The Greening of Northcenter, One Plant at a Time
By Patty Wetli
Center Square Journal

With the announcement of Montrose Green–a community garden in collaboration with the Peterson Garden Project–and the Parkway Corners Initiative, Northcenter is fast becoming the little green neighborhood on the prairie.
“Our overall mission is to reduce climate change; one part is plant sources,” says Elizabeth Wenscott, a member of the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s (NNA) environmental committee. “Parkways, corners, homes, gardens—all things that are green, including green roofs–we’re looking at as an asset, an opportunity for education, a way of reducing carbon, adding beauty and providing food for birds, bees, bats and butterflies.”

For the rest of the article please go to and Facebook users be sure to "like" it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Community Garden Within 24 hours!

This week we are celebrating April and our brand new community garden at Montrose Green! The garden filled up within twenty-four hours. Thank you to all who signed up to support us. We are very proud of this endeavor.

For all those who were one of the lucky ones to get a plot don't miss out on the community gardens first informational event on Monday April 9th at 7pm with LaManda Joy who will help us learn how to grow our own food, while we get to meet our new fellow gardening neighbors! 

April 9, 2012
Northcenter Neigborhood Association
Environmental Committee Presents
Revere Park Fieldhouse
2509 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago IL 60618

For more information on this evenings event please follow this link.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 9, 2012 Special Event 7-9pm

April 9, 2012
Northcenter Neigborhood Association
Environmental Committee Presents
Revere Park Fieldhouse
2509 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago IL 60618

7:00 - 8:00pm
LaManda Joy Talks About The New Montrose Green Community Garden

LaManda Joy, Founder of The Peterson Garden Project, will be speaking and answering questions about the new the new garden, Montrose Green Community Garden (Montrose and the Brown line). If you're interested in learning how to grow your own food or you would like to meet your new gardening neighbors, join us to learn more!

For more information about Montrose Green Community Garden please visit:

8:00 - 9:00pm
North Center Neighborhood Climate Change & Sustainability Plan
By Michael Ashkenasi

Global climate change is one of the largest issues facing cities in the 21st-Century. A continued reliance on fossil fuels and urban energy consumption patterns are putting us on an unsustainable path. Glaciers, permafrost and sea ice are disappearing. Extreme weather events will continue to cause more flooding, more drought, more public health problems, more economic distress, and more destruction of ecosystems. No area will be immune to these effects and neighborhoods that develop strong environmental visions, plans and policies will be better equipped to deal with these long-term challenges.

In 2008, the “Chicago Climate Action Plan” was published. It was an ambitious outline of how to reduce the city’s carbon (CO2) footprint 25% below 1990-levels by the year 2020, and 80% below 1990-levels by 2050. This “North Center Neighborhood Climate Change & Sustainability Plan” acts as a public resource for North Center neighborhood residents and stakeholders on how we can face climate change at the neighborhood level. While focusing on North Center specifically, the Plan is also meant to illustrate the links this area has to its neighbors, and to the Chicago region as a whole.

We invite you to the Monday, April 9th meeting of our Environment Committee where the “North Center Neighborhood Climate Change & Sustainability Plan” will be presented by neighborhood resident and NNA Environmental Committee member Michael Ashkenasi."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Montrose Green Collaborates to Sponsor First Community Garden in Northcenter

Location of our future community garden!
Montrose Green Collaborates to Sponsor First Community Garden in Northcenter 
Thanks to the incredible efforts of Lisa Hish and Elizabeth Wenscott, the ladies behind Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s environmental group, “The Greening of Northcenter,” Northcenter is proud to announce the coming of it’s first organic, community garden this century thanks to true collaboration:

Funding is provided by an anonymous sponsor and the Northcenter Neighborhood Association 
The site is a fantastic location on Montrose Avenue, provided on a temporary basis by local community developer Harrington Brown, LLC, with additional support from Alderman Pawar.
Further expertise comes by way of the amazing Peterson Garden Project, which specializes in victory gardens for the community.

The Peterson Garden Project will use the currently vacant site at  Montrose Green – 1819 West Montrose Avenue, the future home of a proposed mixed-use commercial and residential building. Our plan is for this to be available for two growing seasons. This will be one of the five gardens hosted by the Peterson Garden Project in 2012.

One hundred and twenty-five plots are anticipated. Twenty will be used as "Grow2Give” beds, with the food donated to the Common Pantry, ten are available for local restaurant use, and the remaining plots are available for individual or family use at a cost of $65/plot per season.

Sign up is open to the public and begins online April 2. Please visit to sign up and learn more about the fascinating history of victory gardens in Chicago.

The Greening of Northcenter Neighborhood:
Parkways, Corners and Gardens Project
"Investing in Our Community, one plant at a time."


The Anthropocene is a recent and informal geologic chronological term that serves to mark the evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth's ecosystems. The term was coined by ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer but has been widely popularized by the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, who regards the influence of human behavior on the Earth's atmosphere in recent centuries as so significant as to constitute a new geological era for its lithosphere.

Welcome to the Anthropocene from WelcomeAnthropocene on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pete Leki - People You Should Know

Berteau and the River
Within an urban environment it is possible for neighbors, schools and businesses to create a more integrated wholistic experience of living. Experiences where we the participant get to enacted either our "big ideas or little acts" in order to add depth an meaning to our lives while deepening our relationship with our environment.

This past weekend Pete Leki, teacher, ecologist, environmentalist, land steward, and awesome neighbor invited us to learn, participate or just watch two controlled, perscribed burns.

On Thursday, March 16, Pete gave a  workshop on prescribed, controlled burns of natural areas in preparation for two upcoming burnings in our ward. On Saturday the weather was oddly perfect (85 degrees in March!) dry, low winds which allow Pete and the graduates of the workshop to apply the perscription prairie burn to both the Bill McBride Prairie at the intersection of Berteau and the river, then on Sunday the garden of Waters Elementary School.

Waters Elementary School
It was an incredible weekend and based on the success of the burns we can bet that both green spaces will flourish this spring, summer and fall. Thank you Pete!

If you would like to participate in other exciting events like this, please contact the Riverbank Neighbors at, they can always use YOUR HELP!