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Art & the environment

E(art)h Chicago is a simple and exciting idea: Give artists $300,000 in grants to work in communities across the city to create works with a save-the-environment theme. E(art)h Chicago emphasizes communities directly impacted by industrial pollution, effects linked to climate change, and other environmental issues.

E(art)h Chicago is the idea of the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation. ISEIF promotes ideas that help Illinoisans save money and protect the environment. ISEIF uses statistics and data to show the impact everyday people can have, but lately they’ve been shifting to community storytelling.

So in late 2021, ISEIF announced their $300,000 grant program, and they turned to Thinkinc. to help define the program and spread the word. Storytelling is where we shine.

Long before E(art)h Chicago launched, Thinkinc. conducted extensive interviews with community stakeholders and used that valuable input to develop important guidelines. Thinkinc. added to our team a co-creation specialist who facilitated a series of three virtual co-creation events with nearly 100 stakeholders. Our goal was to ensure authentic community involvement so ISEIF could not be accused of parachuting into neighborhoods, co-opting them for photo ops and media glory, and then disappearing forever. ISEIF whole-heartedly embraced our recommendations.

We then created media advisories, news releases, and we called on our network of journalists to secure prominent media coverage by Lawndale News, WBEZ-TV, WVON-AM, the Chicago Tribune, WGN-9 TV and other media outlets. We also shared ISEIF social media assets on all our channels.

The result is a talked-about program that is on track to achieve E(art)h Chicago’s goals of supporting impacted communities as they battle the challenges of environmental injustice.