2011’s Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium presenters were:

Tim Smith (Cleveland) is Executive Director of Community Greenhouse Partners. He recently submitted the application for 501 (c) (3) nonprofit status and is leading an initial fundraising effort. He’s already received a $5,000gift. Smith and his team are in negotiations with the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to obtain the property of a closed inner city church. Once it’s up and running, the greenhouse will employ about 15 residents of the neighborhood with living-wage, benefit-paying jobs, while providing fresh fish and vegetables for the community throughout the year.Smith projects the CGP will generate $1 million in taxable wages and $2.5 million in sales revenue annually. Sustainable practices such as composting and on-site, renewable energy generation should take the facility off the power grid. Middle and high school students will earn science credits from studying sustainable, commercial greenhouse practices.

Maurice Small (Cleveland) was the Cuyahoga County co-director and youth program advisor for The City Fresh Project, which is a national model supported by the USDA, for five years and served as the garden manager at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. He is currently working with Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative (MVOC) to establish gardens and to create farmers markets in that area He travels across Northeast Ohio helping inner-city residents grow healthy, organic food. Small’s business tagline reads, “Imagine . . . what if everyone had access to good soil, healthy food options, and positive opportunities for their youth.” He is passionate about gardening and has helped create successful gardening cooperatives from Toledo to Youngstown. He created a garden at Huron Road Hospital last year and spearheaded efforts to create a second garden this year. He has lobbied for local food and gardens before the U. S. Senate and his love for gardening and sustainability is evident in his ready smile and his enthusiasm for anyone interesting in planting a garden.

Gibson Caldwell (Milwaukee) is a board member for the Riverwest Co-op and the Riverwest Public House Cooperative, two revolutionary efforts to build community in Milwaukee, WI. The Riverwest Co-­op and Café is a natural foods grocery store and café that has been open to the public since November 3rd, 2001. Located in the heart of the beautiful and diverse Riverwest community of Milwaukee, the co-­op is community-based, member-owned, volunteer-run, and it offers a truly unique shopping experience. We know where our food comes from and how that food is grown, and we keep our profit margins to cover our overhead. In a true co-operative spirit, everyone participates and everyone voices their ideas. The Co-op has led outreach programs to runaway youth and ex-convicts as well. Caldwell also helped found the Riverwest Public House Cooperative, the Midwest’s second cooperative pub. The mission of the Riverwest Public House Cooperative is three-fold: to provide a welcoming social meeting place, to provide patrons with a variety of affordable local, organic and/or delicious beers, ciders and spirits, and to raise funds to propagate other cooperatives through the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance.

Adolfo Hernandez (Chicago) is the Director of Advocacy for Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance. The mission of Active Transportation Alliance is to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. They advocate for transportation that encourages and promotes safety, physical activity, health, recreation, social interaction, equity, environmental stewardship and resource conservation. They envision the region with half as many crashes and where half of all trips are made by walking, biking and transit.  Mr. Hernandez manages Active Trans’ community, city and county level campaigns.  He also serves on the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council, the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and on the Emanuel administration’s Transportation and Infrastructure Transition Committee.

Orrin Williams (Chicago) is founder and president of the Center for Urban Transformation and Case Manager & Director of New Project Development for Growing Home. In 2002, Growing Home harvested its first crop of vegetables from a ten-acre organic farm in LaSalle County. Seven years later, Growing Home had graduated about 130 trainees; about 80 percent of them have been homeless at one time or another and about 90 percent have been incarcerated. In addition to the certified organic farm in LaSalle County, the nonprofit now operates an organic garden in Back of the Yards and, as of 2008, a year-round urban organic farm on Wood Street. The fruit of all this labor is available at Green City Market in Lincoln Park, at a seasonal Wood Street farm stand, through a booming home delivery program, and at the Englewood Farmers Market, which Williams launched in 2008 with the help of students from Lindblom Math & Science Academy, his alma mater. (Bio courtesy

James Godsil (Milwaukee) works with Sweet Water Organics, an aquaponic farm in an old warehouse on Milwaukee’s South Side, and with the Sweet Water Foundation, the 501c3 non profit arm of Sweet Water Organics Inc. The Sweet Water Foundation develops intergenerational and interdisciplinary educational programming for sustainability with a focus on the potential of urban agriculture and aquaculture in the 21st century setting.  Centered upon the fundamental concept of turning wastes into a community resource, they address such topics as community and economic development, health/wellness concerns, the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and environmental awareness and stewardship concerning local and global themes of food, soil, water, and energy. Sweet Water Organics is an urban fish and vegetable farm. Their goal is to provide fresh, safe food for our local communities while maintaining reasonable prices and respecting our environment.  In 2008, Sweet Water Organics began the transformation of an abandoned industrial building into a showcase of potential living technologies and urban agriculture. They strive to become a resource for job creation and use of urban settings.

Andrew Fernitz  (Chicago) is co-founder of 312 Aquaponics. 312 Aquaponics is a Chicago start-up that develops aquaponic systems and technologies for commercial urban agriculture applications. In March 2011, they obtained seed funding from a private investor to launch their operations on the south side of Chicago. They are currently in the process of sourcing materials and constructing their prototype aquaponics system, or POD as they refer to it. The purpose of the POD is to prove their urban aquaponics concept and show that commercial urban agriculture is possible using their systems and vacant space that is already available in Chicago and other urban areas. Their ultimate vision is to fundamentally change how food is grown and distributed in cities worldwide. They sense that Chicago has the potential to be the nationwide, if not global, leader in urban agriculture ideas and technology. They are actively trying to be the pioneers of this rapidly evolving industry.

Michael Holzer
(Chicago) is Director of Economic Development at LEED Council.  Mike joined the LEED Council in 1988 as an intern while finishing his Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Mike organized support from industry and nearby residents to help create the city’s first Planned Manufacturing District, the Clybourn Corridor PMD in 1988.  Mike also organized support to implement similar PMDs for the Elston Corridor, Goose Island and Chicago Halsted Industrial Districts.  He worked on the development of the 30-acre Goose Island Industrial Park, including environmental studies, site planning, property appraisal and recruiting Republic Windows and Doors as the lead user for the park. Mike also negotiated a ground-breaking hiring agreement between Fed Ex, a tenant in the Goose Island PMD, and the Cabrini-Green community for LEED Council to train and place 100 community residents in jobs at Fed Ex, using proceeds from a Tax Increment Financing District developed for the project.



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