We’re excited to release Plant Chicago’s 2020 Annual Report. Read about the work we accomplished with your support in the past year including our work in youth education, small business, local food systems, shared growing spaces, waste diversion, and more! Take a sneak peek at our plans moving forward in 2021.
Executive Director's Statement
For many of us, “I can’t wait until we can go back to normal” has been a mantra of the past year. But just what “normal” are we wishing for?
Amidst the grief of the last year, many of us rediscovered joy in the simple things. Joy in getting to know our neighbors and taking walks in our neighborhood, supporting our favorite local small businesses, buying food from a farmer or growing our own food. If we had the privilege of being at home, we were able to slow down enough and take pride in cooking more homemade meals, repairing appliances, or monitor how much we are throwing away. 2020 was the year to stop being willfully blind, to take time to find what is important in our lives and how the decisions we make have an effect on the world.
The science is quite clear: if we continue to extract resources at the expense of habitats, global pandemics will become more likely. As we continue to burn non renewable resources for energy, we will increasingly warm our climate. Our economic and justice systems collectively devalue black and brown lives, and if we do nothing we are in effect supporting these systems. This is not a normal we can return to.
I hope that we can remember both the lessons and the joys of the past year to create a new normal. To continue to stay present in our communities and check in with our neighbors, support local businesses, and get outside. Taking action where we can against injustice. Buying locally and sustainably grown food, or growing it ourselves. To slow down and be intentional about reducing our overall consumption and purge the very concept of single use.
In 2020, we began to build this new “normal” in collaboration with volunteers, small businesses and our neighbors. Over $28,000 of incentives for locally and sustainably produced food was distributed to low income households. We began accepting food scraps for composting from our neighbors, regardless of their ability to pay. We piloted the “Indoor Victory Garden” to provide space and equipment for Chicago residents to grow their own food year round. We launched the first Circular Economy Toolkit for Small Businesses and Local Economic Impact Report. And in 2021, our Circular Economy Leaders network has grown to over 30 business leaders in a wide range of industries, including farmers, restaurants, textiles, body products and more. Close to half of these businesses are BIPOC owned and two thirds women-owned.
If you have supported Plant Chicago in the past year, we thank you. The accomplishments of the past year were only possible with the support and collaborations of foundations, businesses, and individuals like you. I hope you will join us in the years to come to create a new normal.
Report design and photography by Narcisse Robles