Category: Blog


Published: May 2, 2011

Making Climate Change Local

Mario Longoni, Lead Environmental Social Scientist, Keller Science Action Center



Artist: Lisa See Kim

What does climate change look like in Chicago? On March 1, 2011, nineteen leaders from four diverse Chicago communities were asked just that when they met with Field Museum scientists at a “Climate Clinic” workshop. At the event, participants explored what climate change is, how it is impacting the Chicago region, and what we can do to lessen its impact (“mitigation”) and prepare to deal with changes that are already underway (“adaptation”).

The workshop is part of the Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit project, led by the Museum’s Science Action Center. The project provides community organizations from the Bronzeville, Pilsen, South Chicago, and Forest Glen neighborhoods with financial and technical support to create tools for engaging their residents in programs that address both climate change and neighborhood concerns.

During the clinic, Field Museum ecologists and anthropologists presented the basics of climate science and highlighted how climate change is impacting our region. After the presentations, the leaders took turns sharing their own community climate action project plans. Each project is designed to link community-wide concerns – like the desire for more green space and healthy, local food options – with climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. The anticipated result: the concern (garden, food, etc.) will act as a springboard for engaging residents in climate action.

Specific projects include energy and water conservation in Forest Glen; transforming a vacant lot into a climate-friendly community garden where children can play in Pilsen; healthy cooking demonstrations that take place in community gardens, and neighborhood green tours and field trips in Bronzeville; and creating a community-wide museum featuring green practices, stories, and artifacts in South Chicago.

Each community project is designed to build upon local opportunities, resources, and needs that were identified through rapid research conducted by anthropologists. Projects align with climate action strategies presented in the region’s two climate action plans: the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the Climate Action Plan for Nature.

Learn more about climate action projects happening in Chicago communities:


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Watch a video about Climate Change in the Chicago Region

Mario Longoni
Lead Environmental Social Scientist, Keller Science Action Center

Mario is the Urban Anthropology Manager in the Keller Science Action Center. Whether conducting social research in and around Chicago, collaborating to create culturally based programming, or helping community organizations increase their capacity, Mario works from a central tenant of cultural anthropology that communities possess the knowledge and capacity they need to address most challenges. His work focus on drawing out these cultural assets to improve regional quality-of-life.