D484CTL285As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” And for the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium (SMHEC), that’s key to this groups’ sustainability initiatives and efforts to make this region the most resilient in Metropolitan Chicago. To further their collaboration, they’re holding a Link and Leverage Forum on Thursday, Oct. 22, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., on the main campus at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

SMHEC is a collective of higher education institutions, including Moraine Valley, from research and community colleges to for- and not-for-profits in Chicago’s south and southwest suburban area working with their communities to foster new and enhanced educational services and programs. Some of the group’s accomplishments include conducting a semester-long online class for 13 faculty on incorporating sustainability into their curriculum, holding a yearly Student Sustainability Summit, organizing summer tours at sustainably innovative and cutting-edge organizations, and for the last four years managing the collective purchase of electricity with a portion of savings going to additional renewable energy for each campus.

In working to further create a healthy and livable environment, the consortium has reached out through more events to partner with diverse community groups. SMHEC most recently partnered with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, a membership group of mayors from 273 cities and villages in northeastern Illinois to congregate and collaborate on common issues. Both assemblies are working to align environmental issues, resources and actions at the local, regional and national level to achieve meaningful and measureable sustainability. To that end, they are collaborating on the Greenest Region Compact 2, a sustainability plan. They are launching this framework on Oct. 22, at the first in a series called Link and Leverage. Each successive event will focus on one of nine green/sustainable topics within that framework.

“Moraine Valley and our partner SMHEC institutions have been leading sustainability initiatives on our campuses for years. We felt it was time to make a more concerted and collective effort to work with our communities to help drive the sustainable and resilient growth of our region. The goal is simple: Provide a platform to link existing resources within our communities and leverage them to make the south and southwest suburbs of Chicago the greenest region,” said Stephenie Presseller, Moraine Valley sustainability manager. “It’s exciting work. It’s the right thing to do if we want to thrive in the future.”

South and southwest Chicago mayors and managers, municipal workers, not-for-profit organization staff, community and economic development staff, and health care representatives are welcome to attend this free event. Register at www.southmetroed.org. For additional information, contact Genny Boesen, executive director of SMHEC, at (708) 534-4984 or gboesen@govst.edu.