Juniors Noelle Kelly (left) and Becca Snouffer (right) pose with a newly made Greener Grove shirt at their end-of-the-year party.
Juniors Noelle Kelly (left) and Becca Snouffer (right) pose with a newly made Greener Grove shirt at their end-of-the-year party.
Juliana Conyer

Greener Grove plants seeds in community

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In Jan. 2020, Downers Grove residents Louise Kelly and Carol Richart were alarmed to discover that their town had made the Environmental Concerns Commission inoperative. They responded by creating Greener Grove, an organization made up of Downers Grove community members that hopes to improve the environmental conditions of the town.

After three years, Downers Grove reinstated the Environmental Concerns Commission in Nov. 2023. They are also executing a sustainability plan that includes hiring an Environmental Sustainability Coordinator. These reforms were made possible by the efforts of Greener Grove.

“Our village never had someone on staff like that before. This is a very positive step,” Kelly said.

Kelly is in charge of Communications while Richart handles Community Activism. Despite their victory, Greener Grove will continue to develop and operate.

“We’ve got to get enough of them [young people] interested in the future to carry it through and make a difference,” Richart said.

Junior Becca Snouffer was a Greener Grove intern over the summer, did community outreach for the organization and completed a research project that was presented to the Downers Grove village council.

“Someone said that ‘sometimes with environmental issues it feels that we’re all separate and in our own islands trying to fight for some change’ but I think it’s really important to know that there are other people in your very own community that are thinking the same thing as you and that want the same change that you do.”

— Becca Snouffer

Greener Grove has hosted multiple activities for community members to become better informed and involved in their environment. They began with an informational tree walk and composting demonstration. Their final meeting of 2023 allowed members to bring in used t-shirts to be stamped with the Greener Grove logo.

Suzanne Lestina acts as the treasurer for Greener Grove and shared why environmental organizations are crucial for communities.

“It brings the voice of the village to the council. This group is representative of a bunch of residents that are very interested in the environment, and more importantly what Downers Grove is doing about it, and they [the village] listened,” Lestina said.

Greener Grove member Steven Sebela explained why he joined the group.

“It seemed very logical that as a community we come together and take the necessary steps to try to push legislation to make sure that we’re being responsible when it comes to the environment,” Sebela said.

Sebela elaborated on what he would like to see Greener Grove accomplish in the future.

“Everyone can come together and empower themselves to be able to take control of their community and force the change that they want to see. We can inspire other communities to see that if you step up, create a platform and participate in it you can actually create the change that you want to see happen,” Sebela said.

Phil Bolton heads the Projects team of Greener Grove and explained what impact he would like them to have on Downers Grove.

“I would like us to develop into a community that has a reputation for being a sustainable destination to live, and that actually drives people to want to come here,” Bolton said.

To become a member of Greener Grove, sign up on their website. They will resume meetings after Jan. 2024.

“I would like to see Greener Grove become a household name in Downers Grove, with people saying ‘this is something I need to do for the environment’.”

— Suzanne Lestina

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Juliana Conyer, Managing Editor
Junior Juliana Conyer is the Managing Editor in her first year on the Blueprint staff. Besides journalism, Conyer is a part of book club, varsity speech team, PE Leading program and is a vice president of student council. Conyer was a part of the 2023 Journalism IHSA team and took first place at the sectional competition for yearbook caption writing. She advanced to state and became the champion in the event. Conyer was also a member of the 2023 DGS Speech Individual Events team and made it to the sectional finals of the state series. Conyer’s journalism experience began at the beginning of her freshman year, when she joined the Blueprint club as a freelance writer. She then went on to take the Journalistic Expression class her sophomore year to enhance her journalism skills. In her free time, Conyer enjoys spending time with her younger siblings, reading, listening to music and watching new movies. Additionally, she has a passion for creative writing and public speaking. Conyer hopes to pursue a career in writing.

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