The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) recently announced its 2023 Regional Excellence Awards and the Climate Ready Oak Park plan was recognized with the organization’s Regional Resilience honor.
As part of CMAP’s State of the Region program, the agency celebrates individuals and organizations such as the Village of Oak Park that are successfully working to improve northeastern Illinois, its communities, and its people, while bringing attention to public sentiment on key quality-of-life issues.
“The 2023 State of the Region is an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the necessary, challenging, and meaningful work that comes with building a more inclusive and thriving northeastern Illinois,” said CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman. “The firsthand feedback from our residents reminds us that a strong quality of life requires an everlasting commitment, and our award winners remind us why we should always uphold that commitment.”
In describing its reasons for bestowing the Regional Resilience award, CMAP indicated that, “the Village of Oak Park provided the region with a blueprint to address a changing climate when it approved Climate Ready Oak Park, a comprehensive sustainability and resilience plan for its own community. Climate Ready Oak Park lays out ambitious goals with concrete commitments and actions to improve air quality locally and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% relative to 2019 levels by 2030. In addition, the plan strives to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The village’s Office of Sustainability led the development of the local plan, which was informed by input from the public,” the statement read. “The village also prioritized equitable engagement — setting up avenues for two-way conversations with underrepresented groups and community members most impacted by a changing climate.”
“We really spent a lot of time connecting with community members who are not the usual suspects in the environmental community,” said the Village of Oak Park’s Chief Sustainability Officer Marcella Bondie Keenan. “This included disabled, older adults, youth, people of color and English-language learners. We also did some design workshops with social service providers and their clients focusing on housing, mutual aid and food security.
"Climate action has to be relevant to people’s everyday lives,” said Bondie Keenan. “The programs and policies that support that are really what’s going to make it possible for communities to achieve our net zero goals.”
More information about Climate Ready Oak Park is available at www.oak-park.us/climateplan.
Other 2023 Regional Excellence award winners in addition to Climate Ready Oak Park include Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub and the Bloomhaven development (Equity with Impact); Transit is the Answer (Partners for Progress); Project Zero (Regional Resilience) Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen and Engineering Enterprises, Inc. Chairman Peter Wallers (Visionary Leader).
CMAP will officially present the award in front of the Village of Oak Park Board of Trustees at its scheduled meeting on Monday, May 15. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held inside Council Chambers, room 201, at Village Hall (123 Madison St.). The time of the meeting will be announced closer to the date.
To learn more about the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the 2023 Regional Excellence awards, please visit www.cmap.illinois.gov/.