On Oct. 26, over 300 individuals from various public and private sectors came together for GreenTown Will County at Joliet Junior College Renaissance Center. The day also marked the launch of the Will County Regional Sustainability Network (WCRSN), designed to connect people, communities and resources to make lasting improvements to the region’s economy, ecology and social equity. GreenTown, full-day conferences co-produced by Seven Generations Ahead and a5 Inc., has now engaged more than 6,300 people in four states over 21 events.gtwc2Edith Makra speaking during the Sustainable Development session GreenTown Will County began with a breakfast for area elected officials. Joliet Junior College culinary students prepared the meal using locally sourced food. To uphold the missions of GreenTown and WCRSN, the lunch, coffee and snacks for the event were also locally sourced and food scraps were collected for composting on-site in the college’s anaerobic digester. Keynote speaker Dr. Debra Rowe, president of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, delivered a motivating presentation and urged attendees to become active in sustainability efforts locally, nationally and globally. Conference guests  attended presentations and panels from their choice of six tracks offering three breakout sessions. Tracks and sessions covered the following relevant topics: energy & ecosystems; local, sustainable food; water; transportation; health; and waste diversion & recycling. Speakers came from diverse backgrounds and organizations that included the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Northern Illinois Food Bank, government, local and national businesses, local and state-level nonprofits and networks, higher education, hospitals, and schools. SGA staff Mark Burger, Diane Chapeta, and Jen Nelson gave presentations and moderated several sessions. Attendees left with new knowledge, resources and connections to contribute to moving sustainability forward in the Will County region and across Illinois. gtwc3GreenTowns inspire ideas and networks that influence projects and policies for years. In addition to the new WCRSN, a few examples of progress that have stemmed from GreenTown are: the Fox Valley Sustainability Network after GreenTown Fox Valley; Complete Streets policy in South Bend, Ind., was born from GreenTown South Bend; the Healthy West Chicago project, which is still ongoing, formed out of GreenTown DuPage/Kane County; and Lucas County, Ohio, Sustainability Plan was developed after GreenTown Toledo.