Can one community make a difference in a region as big as the Great Lakes?

Alliance for the Great Lakes Chicago Young Professional Council at Libations for the Lakes
Alliance for the Great Lakes Chicago Young Professional Council at Libations for the Lakes

The Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Chicago Young Professional Council believes that big things happen when a community unites for a common cause. And that’s exactly what they aim aim to do: bring people together to better the Great Lakes.

The Council’s mission is to engage the next generation of Great Lakes leaders in Chicago. They grant funds to Chicago area clean water projects  that protect Lake Michigan and enrich the community. The Council kicked off their 2018 grant cycle last month with their second annual fundraiser: Libations for the Lakes.

Setting the Stage for a Great Lakes Party

Like last year, Patagonia Chicago hosted the event. The Council, along with Alliance and Patagonia staff, transformed the store into a party with a cause. Guests were met by cheerful Council members, catered food from Big Delicious Planet, music, and even a taxidermied Asian Carp.

Guests takes a selfie photo with a taxidermied Asian Carp.
Libations for the Lakes guest snaps an Asian Carp selfie.

With a name like Libations for the Lakes, you can’t forget about the drinks! Breweries and businesses donated spirits for the evening. Guests enjoyed drinks from the Beverage Tasting Institute, Deschutes Brewery, Half Acre Beer Company, Lake Effect Brewing, Goose Island Brewery, and New Belgium Brewing.

Bartender hands party-goer a drink at Libations for the Lakes.
Enjoying libations for the lakes at Libations for the Lakes.

Bringing the Community Together for the Lakes

Both floors of Patagonia were filled with the Council’s vision: a community uniting for a common cause. Guests included Alliance staff, staff from Chicago environmental organizations, and friends and family of the Council.

Recipients of the Chicago Young Professional Council’s 2017 grants were in attendance, too. We recently spoke with one of the grantees, Chicago EcoHouse, about how the grant helped their project become a reality:

“Our goal was to build a fully sustainable flower farm that would use 100 percent rainwater in order to reduce the strain on Lake Michigan… we installed a 1,100 gallon rainwater catchment system that is powered by a 300 watt solar power system. I think the Eco House and Chicago Young Professional Council goals overlap nicely and by supporting our flower farms it gives the Chicago Young Professional Council a visible and tangible way of conserving our Great Lakes water resources.”

Local Businesses Pay it Forward

Ticket sales from the event supported the Council’s grant program. But, it wasn’t the only way they raised funds. Libations for the Lakes featured a silent auction with prizes donated from many Chicago establishments, including the  Field Museum, Chicago Bears, Intelligentsia, Lettuce Entertain You, Patagonia, the iO Theater, and others.

Guests look over prizes offered at the silent auction at Libations for the Lakes.
Alliance Volunteer Manager Tyrone Dobson shows party-goers the many silent auction prizes they can try their luck on.

Alliance President & CEO Joel Brammeier addressed Libations party-goers. He thanked them for attending and acknowledged the hard work of the council. “The idea that young people don’t care about the environment is untrue, and events like this are proof of that… thank you to the Council for all of their work to protect clean water.”

Alliance President & CEO Joel Brammeier addresses guests at Libations for the Lakes.
Alliance President & CEO Joel Brammeier discusses the importance of clean water and our work to protect it.

All told, Libations for the Lakes raised nearly $6,000 and hit their fundraising goal for the upcoming grant cycle. A big win and a good party, all thanks to a community of supporters who care for the Great Lakes. The future of Great Lakes protection lies with young people. The Alliance’s Chicago Young Professional Council is ready and excited for that challenge.



Couldn’t make it to the event? Support the Chicago Young Professional Council and their grantees by donating now.