Engaging Chicago Communities in Climate Action

ECCo is working with our partners to implement two powerful and inspiring plans: the Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP) focusing on the City and people, and the Climate Action Plan for Nature (CAPN) focusing on the natural environment and actions that will help important species in the 9-county region adapt to anticipated changes. Our work engaging communities in these plans is described here.

Rapid Ethnographic Inventories

In 2008, ECCo was commissioned by the City of Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) to help engage diverse communities in the implementation of the Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP). The plan aims to reduce carbon emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Since then, we conducted 9 rapid ethnographic inventories in communities throughout Chicago to identify community concerns and assets that can serve as springboards for climate action--to involve people in the CCAP and the Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature. Inventories were conducted in South Chicago, North Kenwood-Oakland/Bronzeville, Pilsen, West Ridge, Roseland, Forest Glen, Austin, on the Southwest Side, and with the Polish community primarily along the Milwaukee Corridor. Reports are downloadable by clicking on the links below.

Participatory Action Research and Storytelling

All of our research is participatory action research (PAR): it is conducted in collaboration with community partners, who facilitate community connections and in many cases help design, conduct, and analyze the research and write the final report. In 2010, we made our model even more participatory by working with a professional storytelling team to develop tools for community partners to use to collect and document stories about their residents’ environmentally-friendly practices, values, and traditions. Learn more…

From Inventories to Action

Since the release of our first study, we have been working with the DOE, Chicago Wilderness, the Chicago Cultural Alliance, and other partners to translate our inventory findings into community engagement programs for climate action. Our efforts have resulted in three major programs:

Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit (CCCAT)

The CCCAT builds on the assets identified in four inventories conducted by ECCo--in Forest Glen, Pilsen, Bronzeville, and South Chicago--to help community organizations from these neighborhoods develop climate action programs that address climate change and local concerns at the same time. The project is funded by Boeing and led by ECCo anthropologists. It will result in a Web-based toolkit to be shared with partners across the region. Tools will help community organizations understand how climate change relates to Chicago, identify their local springboards for climate action, and design and implement locally-relevant climate action programs. 

Energy Action Network-Chicago (EAN)

Launched by the City of Chicago Department of Environment, the EAN directly engages 27 trusted community organizations in scaling up retrofits in their communities, increasing residents’ awareness of climate change, and integrating environmental sustainability into their core agendas for improving quality of life.

South Chicago Retrofit Project

The South Chicago Retrofit Project is a two-year, community-intensive version of the EAN in the South Chicago neighborhood. Also launched by the Department of Environment, it aims to significantly increase residential retrofits by targeting particular blocks, working through community networks, and linking the issue of energy efficiency to neighborhood concerns. The project builds on ECCo's first inventory conducted in South Chicago. It is led by two local community organizations, Claretian Associates and Spanish Coalition for Housing. ECCo serves as a project adviser.

ECCo was also part of the Communications Strategy Team for Energy Impact Illinois, a $25M, three-year program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy that aims to build a regional market for commercial and residential retrofits. CRIBB is led by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the City of Chicago.

Learn more about ECCo's work on Climate Action for Nature.

Credit: Hannah Porst

Inventory Reports


Read short summaries of our research findings:

Forest Glen Summary

Pilsen's Mexican Community Summary (English) (Spanish)

Polish Community Summary

Roseland Summary

South Chicago Summary (English) (Spanish)

West Ridge's South Asian Community Summary

North Kenwood-Oakland/Bronzeville Summary


Community #1: South Chicago

Full Report (pdf)

Executive Summary (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)

Community #2: North Kenwood-Oakland/Bronzeville

Full Report (pdf)

Executive Summary (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)

Community #3: The Polish Community

Full Report (pdf)

At a Glance (pdf)

Polish Language Executive Summary (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Community #4: Pilsen's Mexican Community

Full Report (pdf)

At a Glance (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)

Community #5: West Ridge's South Asian Community

Full Report (pdf)

At a Glance (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)

Community #6: Roseland's African-American Community

Full Report (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)

Community #7: Forest Glen

Full Report (pdf)

At a Glance (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)

Community #8: Austin

Full Report (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)

Community #9: Southwest Side

Full Report (pdf)

Community Asset Map (pdf)

Regional Asset Map (pdf)



Additional Publications:

Download a comparative report analyzing the findings from all the research conducted to date.

Learn more about our Research to Action process.



ECCo's inventories have been supported in part by funding from: