Tag Archives: open house

Major milestone

Today was a big day. After five years, Cathy and I feel that we finally got a big step closer to one of our goals: Getting information about our project and information about energy retrofits into the hands and minds of our neighbors in North Lawndale.

This was a long road, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Yes, we had a number of open houses, with the last one (open house #4) being the best attended event. Visitors came from all over the city of Chicago and suburbs, which was also the case for the preceding open house. But almost no one from our community attended.

Yes, there is this blog. I have fun writing and publishing it and I am always amazed when I run into people who recognize me because they’ve read it. I am still surprised by how popular it is. But it doesn’t necessarily reach the demographic I want to reach most – the North Lawndale community.

And yes, our adventures have been published and featured elsewhere, such as on Chicago Public Radio. Did that help us connect with our community? Not in a noticeable way.

We have reached out to local community organizations whose missions clearly overlap with our deep energy retrofit goals, focusing on indoor air quality, material reuse and repurposing…you name it. Nothing panned out, despite numerous follow-ups.

It was only in the past couple of months that I came across a group right here in North Lawndale calling themselves “Men Making a Difference.” One of their goals is to help young adults from our community to enter into trade training programs.

That generated the spark through which we connected, and we organized a tour of our deep energy retrofit made up completely of local residents!

Five years in the making! I have to say that this felt like one of the most relevant events we’ve had to date. And I hope we have a lot more of this coming!

Related posts:

Open house #4 – as much Q&A as we could handle

On Air with Worldview

Project featured in Medill Reports Chicago

Open house #3…

1st Open house


Open house #4 – as much Q&A as we could handle

This was a lot of work, but worth all the effort. We had a great turnout for our open house #4.

Our visitors were on a mission and arrived with just as many questions as we could handle. Popular destinations were the utility room in the basement, the drain waste heat recovery unit, the energy recovery ventilators in the basement and on the 1st floor, and the insulation mock up models.

John from Chicago Home Performance brought along his blower door test kit and set it up in the 2nd floor back door. His demonstrations also generated a lot of interest.

At around half past noon, we had the Bridgeport Pasty food truck stop by to feed our visitors and volunteers. It’s not just another food truck – its an all electric food truck! The pastys were delicious as they always are and powered us through the rest of the day.


This open house was so well attended largely thanks to the interview and the announcement of the open house this past Thursday on WBEZ’s Worldview program. The word got out to those whom we otherwise could not have reached. We would like to extend a big thank you to Jerome McDonnell and his team!

And make no mistake! The great success of this event rested on the priceless help from our volunteers, who answered questions and talked with the visitors non-stop for hours. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to:

  • Tom Donalek,
  • Jason la fleur,
  • Matt Johnson,
  • John Bergman,
  • Percy Harrison,
  • Job Bogan,
  • Lynette Kalsnes,
  • Steve Marsala,
  • Carla McGarrah,
  • Harold Moore,
  • Anne Alt and
  • Drew Schmitt.

Thanks also to our young friends who served as our welcoming crew. We couldn’t have done this without your help!

Related posts:

Tour our deep energy retrofit – open house #4

If you would like to tour our deep energy retrofit and look at the salvaged materials in the kitchen, the efficient range hood, the ventilation system with the Energy Recovery Ventilator, our efficient structured plumbing, the hydronic heating system, our green roof prep work in the attic, or how we insulated our building, make a note of this date:

Saturday 09/28/2013

We will open the doors for you to tour our deep energy retrofit

starting at 10:00 am and concluding at 4:00 pm

If you are in the process of remodeling or are thinking about it, you don’t want to miss this event. Cathy and I will be on hand to show you around and answer any questions you may have.

If you have any questions regarding the open house, feel free to leave a comment. We will responod to you as soon as possible. See y’all on Saturday 09/28.


Tour our green building project!

This is another open house announcement. We will open the doors to our deep energy retrofit once more on

Saturday 10/13/2012

starting at 10:00 am and concluding at 4:00 pm

If you are in the process of remodeling or are thinking about it, you don’t want to miss this event.

Visit the almost finished 1st floor and take a look at the various green building and energy saving (and subsequently money saving) strategies we put in place.

Cathy and I will be on hand to show you around and answer any questions you may have.


Open house #3…

… was a lot of fun again. You never know who is showing up and how they heard about the open house!

Once again we had a pretty diverse group of people. Quite a few had some interest in green building technologies and had thought about how they could use the information we had to offer. It was so much fun to see how the light bulbs went on when our visitors were actually standing in front of various green building components and could touch them.

There is, of course, always a great interest in how much things cost (like the insulation) and how much we will save (such as in heating bills). This time around, we were able to share some initial data from the 1st season we lived in the 1,500 sf garden unit.

At this point, I am ready to start closing up the walls. Although there are a few more items that I have to get out the way first…