Environmental Industry Night fosters transparency in Chicago

Environmental Industry Night

By Alaina Boukedes

A group of Chicago environmentalist met Monday for an Environmental Industry Night for an update on Chicago’s latest green initiatives.

Hosted by Environmental Chicago, the group meets the last Monday of every month at Pint Chicago in downtown Chicago. That establishment provides a casual atmosphere for environmental professionals to network and learn about what’s new on the Chicago environmental scene.

“There are so many people doing things around us that we don’t know about,” said Beth Kosson, who organizes these monthly meetings, called Industry Nights. The meeting attracts environmentalists from varying protection agencies to non-profits.

Kosson started her work helping the environment when she was in high school and for the past six years has worked across several platforms within the environmental community.

“There was nobody talking across sectors,” said Kosson, meaning environmental professionals from water to energy to waste, were not communicating.

To alleviate that problem, Kosson started hosting Industry Nights, where she invited environmental professionals she’d met while working in various jobs within the industry. At these meetings, they were encouraged to discuss what they were focusing on. Her colleagues, Monica Grace Giermek and David Jakubiak, who both work in the industry, helped facilitate these meetings with people they knew as well. Now the meetings are used help people find resources and contacts across industry branches.

“It’s a gathering of like-minded environmental people,” said Marguerite K. Huber, an environmental advocate communicator at Conserve Lake County. Huber has attended the meetings since they started after she met Kosson at a conference.

At each meeting speakers from different businesses and organizations around Chicago update the group on the work their organization is doing. Topics in January included the Asian carp invasion in the Illinois River and how environmentalists are reacting to it. The Asian carp is an invasive fish species that has changed the ecosystem in Chicago’s waterways.

Speakers at the meeting included Michael Cody from BareItAll Petfoods, which is processing the Asian carp as pet food; Rebecca Gordon with Friends of the Chicago River and David McEllis of the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Photo at top: Micahel Cody speaks to the group about his business. (Alaina Boukedes/MEDILL)