We’re 20 in 2020!
Elevate is 20 in 2020! Join us at Elevate Together, a free virtual event open to all on Tuesday, December 8 from 12 to 1 p.m. CST. Tune in at 11:45 a.m. for our lobby; the show will start at noon.
We will look back on our past 20 years of impact and share exciting new announcements for Elevate’s future. Steve Bynum of WBEZ will lead us through an exploration of Elevate then, now, and next, and we'll give a special thank you to Elevate's founding CEO Kathy Tholin. The event will honor our Climate Changemakers, eight phenomenal community leaders who bring their visions for environmental justice, equity, and climate solutions to life.
Sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Sylvia Ewing at for more information.
Olga Bautista leads the Chicago Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke. In response to decades of pollution and environmental destruction by industry in her home neighborhood on the Southeast side of the city, Olga banded together with other community members to fight for environmental protections from and cleanup of Petcoke, a toxic byproduct of oil refinement that was poisoning the air she and her family were breathing. The coalition successfully fought the Koch brothers, who were forced to dispose of the petcoke in a less destructive manner. She talks about the devastation of industrial pollution, learning to collect the necessary data herself, the unique challenges of having a set at the redevelopment table during a pandemic, and much more.
Tonika Lewis Johnson is an artist, community builder, and lifelong Englewood resident. Tonika co-founded the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E), as well as the Englewood Arts Collective. Her Folded Map Project, which brings together "map twins" from opposite sides of the city, has been widely acclaimed as both an artistic project and a flashpoint in the fight against structural racism. She talks about the ways that the project has evolved, what she's learned from it about our collective relationships to land, what she imagines in the demolished spaces across her neighborhood, and much more.
Radius is the cofounder of the Love Fridge Chicago, a mutual aid network that sets up community-run, free-food fridges across the city of Chicago. In this episode, Radius talks about how Love Fridge Chicago emerged, his relationship with food, and how we can build a more embodied and sustainable relationship to our food system.
Lissette Castañeda is the Interim Executive Director of LUCHA, an organization working to advance housing as a human right by empowering communities – particularly the Latino and Spanish-speaking populations – through advocacy, affordable housing development, and community building. She talks about the ways in which her work is connected to the Puerto Rican diaspora, how COVID is impacting the fight for housing as a human right, and much more.
Pat Abrams is the Executive Director of The Renaissance Collaborative, a social impact organization that has provided affordable housing, workforce development, employment, and educational services and solutions to over 1,000 individuals annually in Bronzeville and its adjacent communities for the past 27 years. She talks about how environmental sustainability became an important piece of her work, the transformation of the historic Wabash YMCA that houses the organization's office and housing, and how we can move forward in a more human direction.
Anton Seals, Jr. is the Lead Steward of Grow Greater Englewood, a social enterprise focusing on building a equitable and resilient local food system that fosters protections of vacant land in divested communities and focuses on connecting those residents with community wealth building opportunities. Anton talks about the connections and unique challenges of reshaping Black Chicagoans' relationship to food, as well as how the structures and pathologies of power limit this transformative work.
Juliana Pino is the policy director at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in Chicago. At LVEJO, Juliana analyzes, researches, and advocates for environmental justice, climate justice, and economic justice in local, state, and federal environmental policy. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Environmental Council, a statewide organization that promotes sound environmental policy and protections for land, air, water, wildlife, and human health.
Elevate Energy: 20 in 2020
Elevate Energy focuses on building equity through climate action. In 2020, we’re celebrating 20 years of improving quality of life for underserved communities by helping them save money, improve their environment, and access opportunities in the workforce that will be part of tackling climate change. As we reflect on two decades of impact, we look optimistically to the future. We are helping communities access better technologies that dramatically reduce carbon emissions, conducting research that places equity at the core of climate solutions, and working in partnership to advance policy that will get us to a carbon-free economy by 2030. Climate change is an issue that impacts everyone; the time is now to accelerate our action and broaden our collaboration.
We’ll be advancing net-zero solutions that work in the communities that need them most, addressing multiple seemingly intractable problems at once. By dramatically reducing energy and water expenses, capital is freed up for other needs and families become more financially secure. These measures also improve the environmental quality of these families’ homes and thereby improve their health. We’ll be diversifying the clean energy and water workforce, improving incomes while ensuring everyone has access to this rapidly expanding industry.
Our twenty years of experience has taught us that we must move beyond talk to action. We’re innovating solutions that work for communities by engaging people directly to hear what their needs are and what our shared goals are and developing practical ways to achieve them together. We’re present in people’s homes and communities, improving the efficiency and comfort of their homes and preserving affordable housing. We’re helping people access training and jobs in the clean energy economy.
We’re hopeful because many of the solutions we need exist today, we now need to move them to scale, amplify local environmental justice leaders, and generate the political will to get us to a more equitable future that puts people and planet first. Join us over the next year and beyond as we work towards achieving these goals together.
This page is where we’ll be reflecting on our history, highlighting inspiring environmental leaders, and discussing exciting new projects, so check back often. Cheers to turning 20 in 2020!