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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Rooted in Nature: Four Tools to Cultivate Personal Empowerment

Oct 27, 2014 06:05PM ● By Andrea Dennis and Tieg Alexander

The polls have spoken, and studies show that most people think the global environmental crisis can be resolved through individual actions; but how can we take this shared belief and create tools to help bring about such a transformation? Here are four personal empowerment tools to do just that:

Seek environmental knowledge: Through lifelong inquiry, we can connect with visionaries and innovators in our communities to inspire our daily actions. Knowledge is power, and there are rising insights and ideas addressing our environmental crisis every day. Ongoing education helps inform the seeker of communities, opportunities and resources that inspire and educate individuals to make a change. Take, for example, the many “playshops” offered by the local Chicago group Edible Alchemy (—it’s not just the elite foodies that can ferment veggies, brew kombucha or compost indoors.

Embrace an affinity for nature: The more intimate we are with our true selves, the more deeply we are able to listen to our own hearts and develop an intuition to love and nurture that which we most desire. A still moment in natural surroundings can work wonders to reconnect us with our childlike affinity for nature. While it might seem challenging to do this in the third-largest city in the country, even Chicago has natural destinations that can inspire wonder and awe. Visit the Cosmic Spiral on the grounds southeast of the Adler Planetarium or the willow trees in Lincoln Park South Lagoon for a daily Zen moment in nature. In winter, the Garfield Park Conservatory and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum will do the trick. Nature is our teacher—listen to what it has to tell us.

Act in service to the Earth: In order to live well, we have to make sure the world around us also lives well. One easy to way to begin focusing on the health of the Earth is through participating in environmental volunteer projects. There are many organizations in Chicago with unique environmental initiatives, such as the Cooperation Operation (, on the Southside of Chicago. They are remediating soil at a former toxic waste site and concurrently operating an organic urban farm. They host open volunteer hours every Saturday. To maximize volunteer time, join the Greenheart Club ( to log volunteer hours and earn grants for important projects.

Integrate through a daily practice: Our “Aha!” moments can be washed away in an instant if we are unable to root them in our lives. Let’s integrate seeking knowledge, an affinity for nature and volunteer service into a daily practice. Making these improvements a priority is empowering on a personal level, and will most definitely result in a windfall of community, connection and inspiration.

Dennis is the outreach director for Greenheart International and board member of Chicago Fair Trade and Social Enterprise Alliance: Chicago chapter. Alexander is the events and program coordinator at Greenheart Transforms, a branch of Greenheart International. For more information, call 312-264-1696 or visit

Learn to lead an eco-friendly urban or suburban lifestyle while envisioning a world transformed. Presentations, demonstrations and interactive exhibits designed to help people gain a well-rounded understanding of the many ways we can carry out an eco-friendly lifestyle in Chicago will be featured from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., November 16, at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Optional networking will be available from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Greenheart Transforms, presenters will include Jamie Hayes, owner and designer of Production Mode; Emmanuel Pratt, director of the Aquaponics Center at Chicago State University; Ken Dunn, founder of The Resource Center and City Farm; and Emanuel Kuntzelman, founder and president of Greenheart International. Locally made organic vegan and vegetarian lunch options from Edible Alchemy are included.

Get tickets at Location: 2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago. For more information, call 312-264-1696 or visit