At the risk of sounding like a doomsday prepper, the Climate Crisis is upon us; whether it be over the dinner table or the democratic debates, climate change is dominating our conversations. Climate advocates like Greta Thunberg are galvanizing people around the world to act in response to our changing environment, but you don’t have to look far for opportunities to start participating. Here are seven Chicago-based organizations focused on enacting social and environmental change that you can get involved in.
1. One Earth Film Festival
The One Earth Film Festival is the top Midwest environmental film festival, where sustainability-minded films are shown in order to provoke discussion, raise awareness for climate change, and inspire community involvement. Perfect for film majors and film lovers alike, the One Earth Film Festival is a great opportunity to create art and get involved in the climate crisis solution. The finished films are shown at a variety of locations throughout Chicagoland. Festival submission details and film screening locations can be found on their website, linked below.
Here’s where to get involved: https://www.oneearthfilmfest.org/our-story
2. Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter
Founded by John Muir in 1892, The Sierra Club is an environmental organization dedicated to conservation campaigns, protecting the biodiversity of ecological systems, preserving natural resources, and more. With community programs that educate about solar energy, viewings of Sandhill crane migrations, sponsored cleanups and environmental town hall meetings, the Sierra Club is a great organization to join if you want to get outside and do some good.
Here’s where to get involved: https://www.sierraclub.org/illinois/chicago
3. Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF)
Based in the Chicago southeast area, SETF aims to educate Chicagoland community members and inspire change for the improvement of southeast Chicago neighborhood environments. You don’t have to wait to enact change — SETF is currently involved in a campaign to ban Petcoke, a fine dust byproduct of oil refining, of which there are massive stockpiles stored inside southeast Chicago neighborhoods.
Here’s where to get involved: http://setaskforce.org/
4. Friends of the Chicago River
Established in 1979, Friends of the Chicago River is the only organization whose sole focus is on improving the health of the Chicago River system. Friends of the Chicago River champion awareness, research initiatives and on-the-ground projects to educate and inspire stewardship of the earth. Whether you want to get involved in public policy or work on projects such as river clean-ups and habitat preservation to physically benefit at-risk Chicago River species, Friends of the Chicago River has an opportunity to get involved.
Here’s where to get involved: https://www.chicagoriver.org/
GreenFaith is an organization of like-minded individuals from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds dedicated to educating and mobilizing people of faith for global environmental action. GreenFaith is a cofounder of SHINE, which is a global campaign “dedicated to ensuring access to clean, affordable and reliable energy by 2030 to the 1.1 billion people who lack modern forms of energy.” From fellowships to multi-faith sustainable living initiatives, GreenFaith has a variety of opportunities for people of faith who are interested in making a lasting difference in the world.
Here’s where to get involved: https://greenfaith.org/?gclid=CJDiiNmQkdUCFQusaQodIJYNeQ
6. Chicago Youth Alliance for Climate Action (CYACA)
The Chicago Youth Alliance for Climate Action is a Chicago-based organization dedicated to educating and empowering young people to address climate change issues. From school sustainability boards to political action, CYACA engages and connects Chicago youth to create change.
Here’s where to get involved: https://www.cyaca.org/
7. Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA)
The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global network of organizations of social justice advocates, citizen activists, civic leaders, and students, with whom the ICA develop and sustain programs for social and ecological change. The ICA and its sister organizations participate in programs all over the world, but you don’t have to go far to get involved. Accelerate77 is a network that supports grassroots sustainability movements and connects like-minded organizations for future collaboration, all in Chicago.
Here’s where to get involved: https://www.ica-usa.org/