When we had a difficult time finding an eco friendly kids summer program this year, we were amazed. There are your standard programs: arts, sports, dance, music and even How to be a Pirate or How to be a Princess camp. My husband and I would look at each other mystified- where is the How to be a Good Person camp? Dead end after dead end, I felt exhausted trying to find a program and started to wonder if I was the only one looking for more.
One night at dinner, I vented my frustration and elaborated on what had been brewing in my head. There had to be a way for families to connect face to face with one another to attend green events together, host environmentally friendly play dates, share information, learn and support one another. Inspired by our conversation, I created Chicago Smart Green Families.
Our goal is to connect parents and children who are at any stage of a green lifestyle (from just thinking about how to start, to the uber-green) because we believe the journey is the focus, not the destination. Since the Green City Market is an outstanding way to shop and support local farmers and businesses, we meet there every Saturday to enjoy chef demonstrations, live music and phenomenal organic food and flowers. If parents can’t make a play date during the week this gives them the chance to still be involved and meet new people. (If you haven’t been yet, go and enjoy the made to order crepes and the fresh pastries too!)
During the week, the group meets every Wednesday at the Edible Gardens in the Farm in the Zoo section of Lincoln Park Zoo. Is it crazy to say that I am thrilled each time the kids get nice and dirty running down the rows of corn and herbs in that garden? They love it so much. The look of accomplishment on their faces as they eat fresh green beans and strawberries they planted and cared for all season long. And I have to say I look forward to it myself. One of our moms was still coming when her son was at day camp. It is a little relaxing getaway to chat, weed and learn.
Sure, it took a little while to buy the websites, do a little designing and organize a meetup group (great calendar, polls, message boards), but the reward is in the new members and their responses. Fulfilled would be an understatement when I reflect on what the group brings me. An immeasurable sense of gratitude, enjoyment and peace saturates me when I encounter the good energy of the parents and the kids.
Most recently our group’s Reuse Tuesday Play Date was featured on ABC News Live Green series. After it aired last Friday, our membership requests have been steadily coming in. I guess I am not alone after all.