Solar and verbal energy in Chicago

October 3 , 2010

The fastest talking woman in horticulture returns!

I can be talking about only one person, the irrepressible Jennifer Brennan of The Chalet in Wilmette. Of course, the real reason I invite her to a guest on my show is because she brings the breakfast sandwiches. It’s a win-win situation: she’s a brilliant and enthusiastic horticulturist who can answer any gardening question thrown at her by my listeners or me, and I get to eat more than the usual banana and coffee for my Sunday morning meal.

If you’re tuning in or if you listen to the podcast of The Mike Nowak Show, which will be posted later in the day, she’s in studio for the entire two hours, though we are covering a wide range of subjects–some of them not even about gardening.

Did you go solar on Saturday?

Last week I talked about the Illinois Solar Energy Tour on October 2, part of a national tour hosted by the American Solar Energy Associationand the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA). One of the stops on yesterday’s tour was Earth Wind And Solar Energy, LLC. You might remember that they were one of the sponsors of the Ultimate Backyard Makeover contest earlier this summer.

As it turns out, I made only one stop on the tour–the EWSE offices on West Grand Avenue in Chicago. However, I learned a lot from company founders Riana and John Caravette about the kinds of choices that average homeowners have in regard to the kinds of systems that will fit their particular situations. Earth Wind And Solar also has a sister company–Windy City Wind Turbines–which means that you have alternative energy options beyond solar solutions. While I couldn’t go up on the roof to see their own solar display (pictured left), they assured me that it is reducing energy costs in their store front. I was also amazed by the way that they can monitor solar energy generation at their various installations by the click of a mouse on laptops in their office. This is truly the future of 21st Century clean energy businesses worldwide.

EWSE just completed installing the first home solar system in Joliet and is about to to install the first verticle axis wind turbine in Naperville. In addition, John has been assisting in writing up an ordinance to allow small wind in Naperville, and they’ve been working with schools to go green. You can find out more about the future of home energy at Earth Wind and Solar Energy’s Grand Opening on October 15.

Green Town Chicago is back

GreenTown Chicago returns on October 13-14 at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema at 1104 S. Wabash in downtown Chicago. John Harris, co-founder of a5, a brand consultancy firm, also. co-founded GreenTown with Seven Generations Ahead, an Oak Park-based non-profit that focuses on building sustainable communities with such programs as Farm to School and Zero Waste Schools.

The City of Chicago Department of Environment and Columbia College Chicago are also partners in this event that features speakers like Philippe Cousteau, Activist and Chief Ocean Correspondent for Animal Planet and Planet Green; Richard M. Daley (it’s possible you’ve heard of him before); and my buddy Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Environment.

In addition to various seminars that focus on ways to make communities greener, healthier and more prosperous, there will be a screening of the film Carbon Nation on October 13th at 7pm. I haven’t seen Carbon Nation yet, but I like its description as a documentary that is even for people who don’t believe that that climate change could potentially be catastrophic for our planet.

Carbon Nation’s co-producer, Karen Weigart, will be present to provide an introduction to the film. Tickets for this screening are $5 – available online and at the door.

Safer Pest Control Project’s Lady Bug Bash is October 8

I posted this last week, but I don’t mind giving Safer Pest Control Project another plug for their event this Friday. Over the years, they’ve appeared on my show to discuss things like organic lawn care. Lately, they’ve been in the news as bedbugs have made an unfortunate resurgence in America.

The important thing about SPCP is that their whole goal is reducing the health risks and environmental impacts of pesticides by promoting safer alternatives in Illinois. I could go on and on about how dangerous pesiticides in our lawns and gardens are, but they do it even better. Anyway, if you’re interested in music, auction items and great food, all in the cause of making our environment a little healthier, head out to the annual Lady Bug Bash at Space, 1245 Chicago Avenue in Evanston from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Friday, October 8. You can get your tickets here.