Image Alt


  /  Blog   /  Launch of First Illinois Suburban Sustainability Center on World Environment Day

Launch of First Illinois Suburban Sustainability Center on World Environment Day




Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center Only Dedicated Environmental Justice Center For Chicago Focused On Environmental Health & Justice In At-Risk Suburban Communities



As World Environment Day heightens awareness around the globe for environmental issues, the opening of the Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center, Bookstore & Eco-Arts Gallery (The Center) in Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois, reveals the environmental inequities afflicting Chicago’s western suburbs and compromising economic sustainability.

The region’s first dedicated sustainability center breaks from a conservation focus to one of environmental health and justice for all suburban residents, particularly low-income, minority communities. It will have a strong focus on Latinos and African Americans struggling with sustainability issues and the impact of exposure to decades of toxic dumping. Reflecting the interdisciplinary approach of its founder, scholar-activist Dr. Sylvia Hood Washington, The Center will spur environmental justice and promote environmental health on multiple levels by serving as a:

  • Sustainability Center: Meeting and training space for local, regional and national environmental sustainability groups;
  • Green Buddha Life Books: Green business to expand recycling “loved books” while creating safe, green jobs through an online bookstore; and,
  • Eco-Arts Gallery: Community space featuring an eco-arts gallery providing education and awareness on how to minimize landfill waste through book recycling.

The Center will host a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house featuring speakers, sustainability workshops in the Eco-Arts Gallery at the Center, and eco/sustainability film screenings and discussions.


Open House Speakers Include:

  • U.S. Representative Bill Foster, Illinois 11th Congressional District
  • City of Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner (Invited)
  • City of Aurora Alderman Michael Saville, 6th Ward
  • Kimberly Wasserman, chair of the Illinois Environmental Justice Commission
  • Naomi Davis, founder & director of the minority-oriented environmental justice organization Blacks in Green

Sustainability Speakers Include:

  • Fran Caffee, past president of the Fox Valley Sierra Club and founder of Sierra Club Water Sentinels
  • Mavis Bates, president of the Fox Valley Sierra Club and founder & director of Greenfest in Aurora
  • Rev. Dr. Terrance Gallagher, a chief organizer of the Illinois Fox Valley chapter of the national Citizens Climate Lobby
  • Mary Shesgreen, chairperson of the Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice coalition
  • Charlie Zine, newly appointed chair of the Aurora mayor’s sustainability commission

Eco-Arts Gallery Presentations Include:

  • Ordering Chaos,” New Art From Old Print Workshop: presented by Elisabeth Dzuricsko, an instructor and gallery director at Marmion Academy in Aurora
  • How To Create Sustainable “Passive Homes” From Abandoned Properties: presented by John Laesch
  • “Monkey Mind” Functional & Fine Art from Recycled Waste, James Jenkins, Sculptor


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Open House 11:00 am – 7:00 pm


Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center, Bookstore & Eco-Arts Gallery

205 W. Galena Blvd., Aurora, IL


While the city of Chicago has multiple environmental groups and facilities, as well as research universities with scholars who focus on environmental health, Chicago’s western suburbs have lacked such infrastructure despite having a higher number of Superfund cleanup sites than the city itself. Like other environmental justice communities across the globe, suburban low-income, minority and chronically unemployed people also are living in the more comprised areas of these communities that have an even higher risk of toxic environments. The creation of the Center “walks the talk” of sustainability, recycling and re-use by creating safe, green jobs that promote rather than jeopardize health, while stopping the buildup of landfills and supporting the local economy.


Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center, Bookstore and the Eco-Arts Gallery are the vision and brainchild of longtime environmental scientist, consultant, scholar and activist Dr. Sylvia Hood Washington. Located in downtown west suburban Aurora, Ill., the mission of Green Buddha Life is to spur environmental justice and promote environmental health. For more information please visit or on Facebook at