IFSC is grateful to Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) for being a Platinum level Sustaining Partner. Contributions from Sustaining Partners help further the impact of IFSC’s efforts to support and grow composting infrastructure in Illinois. Take a moment to learn more about SGA.

What’s in a name?

Multiple young people sitting at a conference table with laptops, papers and other items on table in front of them. They are clearly working, and smiling at camera.SGA’s name acknowledges the importance of making decisions and taking action while considering our long-term impact on the planet and people. The Great Law of the Iroquois states: “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.” The need for this kind of forward-thinking action has become increasingly clear as we face the climate crisis and recognize that the repercussions of the already present ecological crisis will fall disproportionately on the shoulders of generations to come.

Founded in 2001, SGA works to build ecologically sustainable and healthy communities by working with local government, community and private sector leaders to help communities make the changes they need to build a healthy and sustainable future. We address a broad range of sustainability topic areas, including energy efficiency and renewable energy; transportation; healthy community development; waste reduction; water conservation; green business; procurement; local, sustainable food; healthy eating; open space and ecosystem enhancement; and sustainability education.

Working one generation aheadFive high school students from a zero waste schools team.

Much of our work is connected to young leaders. From our new It’s Our Future climate-focused initiative working with middle school, high school and college students to our Zero Waste Schools program serving over 28,000 K-12 students teachers and staff in northern Illinois, we educate and empower young leaders to make a difference in their schools, communities and the world.

As Victor (10th grade, CPS Solorio High School) said: “The fact that we’re sharing this experience is amazing. We didn’t do anything at home before this either—no recycling, nothing. You’d be surprised. A lot of kids do care. Some might do it at first as a service-learning project, but once they see the impact, they want to be on the zero waste team.”

Getting grownups on boardGary Cuneen and another man stand with arms around each others shoulders, holding beers and smiling

One way we share sustainability is through our own zero waste events, including the annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review each August and other fun gatherings like our recent Trivia Night at Revolution Brewing. Our founding Executive Director Gary Cuneen has long appreciated the connections between craft beer and sustainability. Maybe it is the need for freshwater, or perhaps quality soil for the growth of hops, or maybe it is that people open up and talk over a beer. We help others learn to reduce waste at events by modeling sustainable practices as well as promoting our zero waste event planning guide.

How we do the work we do

We are small but mighty. With five full-time and three part-time staff and a few consultants, we partner and collaborate. And we enthusiastically choose to work with interns who not only learn and network, but play a hands-on-role in the work we do. We fundraise and seek grants to support our work. Seven Generations Ahead has received multiple years of funding from Food:Land:Opportunity, via a grant from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, to support work with the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition and to lead the Wasted Food Action Alliance Coordinating Team as well as the team developing a K-12 School Food Waste Toolkit. Through collaboration, education, and policy, the Wasted Food Action Alliance will develop a working strategy and action platform that will make Illinois a leader in reducing wasted food.

Connect to SGA to learn more about our work. www.sevengenerationsahead.org 

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