We are so excited to release Plant Chicago’s 2021 Annual Report! Alongside some favorite photos you'll find accounts of our programmatic impacts in education, waste diversion, food access, small business support, and more. We are proud of the work Plant Chicago accomplished with your support - take a look at all that's possible when we come together to cultivate local circular economies!
Executive Director's Statement:
It’s fitting that Plant Chicago ended up in a former firehouse. This building, originally built for emergencies, now serves a very different organization responding to very different emergencies: unchecked consumption and the climate crisis. Our global economy operates off of the false notion that there are infinite resources to consume, treating materials, and often people, as if they are "disposable." Plant Chicago is working to transition away from an extractive economy based on disposability.
In the months following the close of 2021, we secured a loan and purchased the iconic firehouse that we have come to call home. This purchase is transformational for our organization. We are planting literal roots in the Back of the Yards and tying our success with that of this truly special neighborhood. The purchase of our building makes economic sense. In the long term, it will enable us to channel funds towards people and programs that were previously needed for rent. Finally, we have full agency over renovations and operations. Since our founding in 2011, we have been helping others to renovate buildings. Now, as we renovate our own, we have the opportunity to center equity and economic opportunity for all residents.
While major renovations are forthcoming, the transformation of the firehouse into a hub for cultivating circular economies truly began in 2021; we launched a marketplace for local, sustainable foods and goods as well as free food scrap drop-off, hosted exciting hands-on programming, piloted our Indoor Victory Garden, and installed the first publicly available electric vehicle charging station on the Southwest Side. In the next year, we’ve set goals to decarbonize the building, ending our reliance on natural gas and increasing production of renewable energy.
On their own, buildings do not benefit communities. Our operations, amplified by these ambitious renovations, will ensure that our neighbors have access to locally and sustainably grown food, opportunities to divert materials from the landfill, and access to unique educational opportunities regardless of their ability to pay. Local businesses play a critical role in cultivating circular economies, so Plant Chicago will also ensure that small businesses have opportunities to generate additional revenue while implementing circular practices.
As I look back on the things our organization was able to accomplish amidst the tumult of 2021, I am filled with optimism. Plant Chicago serves to remind every visitor that even in times of crisis, there is plenty of reason to be hopeful. Your support ensures that we will be able to carry on this work for years to come - thank you for investing in a hopeful future.