This year, we’ve been shining a light on the ways communities can make sustainable change happen and inviting readers to tell us about the people and programs that are doing good work. That’s how we found Amy Bartucci of Park Ridge, Ill., the subject of our first Community Changemaker profile.
Bartucci has been a staunch environmental advocate for 10 years. Inspired by a group in a neighboring suburb, she founded Go Green Park Ridge in 2012. The group works to raise environmental awareness and inspire residents to take individual actions. “We are trying to make a commitment together to live more sustainably in a variety of ways. The concept is that every step taken by each person in our community is a step closer to making Park Ridge a cleaner, healthier place to live,” reads their mission statement.
Projects Bartucci’s group is working on this season include a plastic straw reduction campaign called SLURP, a natural lawn care initiative, and a partnership with local high school students. One school has a dedicated student intern working with two Go Green Park Ridge member liaisons to reduce environmental impacts at school. She’s also proud that her town is also a site for Chicago’s annual One Earth Film Festival.
“Though I was raised with high environmental values, I didn't see myself as someone who could create much needed change until I saw how sorely our planet, and my town in particular, needed my voice,” says Bartucci. “It has been my pleasure and passion to try to bring initiatives and structure to our schools, businesses, parks, and residents as much as humanly possible.”
She says some people think the community’s energy to take on these issues "could have happened organically," but the force of one determined individual like Bartucci shouldn’t be underestimated. “I unearthed like minds, joined forces with people and places that matter, and stayed the course,” she says. “I hope my example inspires others to take action.”
Her inspiration to start organizing her community came from Wilmette, a neighboring town, and she also gets support from Go Green Illinois, a growing coalition of citizen's environmental groups in the Chicago suburbs. “I wouldn't be where I am today as a leader without their amazing leadership,” she says.
Are you a community changemaker, or do you know someone who is? We’d like to feature them! Visit sustainableamerica.org/contact to submit a story about sustainable change in your community.