Lessons from the fight to shut down Chicago’s Coal Plants
Book reading and discussion with author / journalist Kari Lydersen
The closing of Chicago’s coal plants is a fascinating story on many levels, a story that continues two years after the historic shutdown.
Join EJC and other organizations who participated in the campaign to close Chicago’s coal plants to hear author / journalist Kari Lydersen reads from her latest book: Closing the Cloud Factories: Lessons from the fight to shut down Chicago’s Coal Plants (Monday June 16 , at 7:30 pm).
This book documents the stories of neighborhood activist and their years-long struggle against two of the city’s biggest polluters. A discussion will follow selected readings.
About Closing the Cloud Factories:
At the turn of the millennium, the Fisk and Crawford power plants in Chicago had declined from workhorses of the Industrial Revolution to arcane relics—more notorious for polluting the nearby Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods than for providing electricity.
Author, journalist, and Pilsen resident Kari Lydersen tells the story of how a fragmented coalition of neighborhood activists, national environmental groups, and city leaders came together to close the coal plants down for good. Richly detailed and expertly reported, The Cloud Factories chronicles a groundbreaking victory in the environmental and social justice movements, and how neighborhood activists helped spearhead a cause that resonated worldwide.
In 2009, Eco-Justice Collaborative re-invigorated a campaign by community groups and environmental organizations that had stalled after a ten-year fight. This included building a coalition of diverse groups with representation from the faith, health and environmental communities; businesses; students; attorneys; labor; and more. By the end of the campaign over 60 groups had signed on to be part of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition. About 20 of these organizations became what was known as the coordinating committee. These groups led the way, meeting continuously to strategize in a political landscape that was unyielding.
The coordinating committee drew upon the expertise and resources of those in the coalition to carry out a vigorous campaign that included awareness-raising and education; lobbying; media work and social media networking; public meetings and hearings; and direct action. They focused their message on the impacts Fisk and Crawford had on the health and well-being of residents Pilsen and Little Village where the plants were located. After a two and one-half year fight and a change in administration, the plants were closed down and initiatives for cleaning up and reusing the sites were launched by the City of Chicago, with input by Pilsen and Little Village.