I went to check out the StepItUp2007 event near me which was over in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago at the High Risk Gallery on Belmont. Not a place associated with a historical leader like most StepItUp rally sites but a nice venue.
You can read reports from the organizers and others here.
The first part featured speakers talking about the problem. Tim Montague from Climate Justice Chicago seemed to be at the wrong venue. He gave a very doom-and-gloom talk about the urgent need for action which seemed more suited to a general audience. Isn't everyone at a StepItUp rally already aware of the need for action? Also he kept using the phrase "runaway global warming". I don't know what he meant by that but the old idea that we might develop a Venus-like climate was discredited years ago. Anthony Star from the Center for Neighborhood Technology went over Chicago's GHG emissions. He also mentioned there is a Chicago Climate Task Force which has been formulating a climate plan for the city. Its supposed to be released "soon" and will make Chicago a world leading Green City. I'm looking forward to seeing it. Jack Darin, Illinois Director of the Sierra Club, told me something I didn't know: that the Sierra Club made global warming its central issue for the next 10 years at a conference in 2005. He had some interesting facts like Illinois is about equal to the Netherlands in total emissions and that Detroit currently makes two versions of every car sold: a clean version for California and similar states with tough laws and a "dirty" version for Illinois (the 5th largest car market by state) and states without those laws. There's currently a bill in the Illinois legislature which would make us clean and maybe that would be the "tipping point" to convince Detroit to make only clean cars.
In the second part of the meeting, we heard from elected officials. I was most pleased to hear from Mike Quigley and learn about the great work he's doing in the Cook County Commissioners office. Cook County has a $3 billion annual budget and can do a lot to make Chicago green. Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris had a disappointing answer to my question about possibly banning coal-fired power plants in Illinois: "not likely". Illinois has 1/4 of the country's coal and mining counts for a lot of jobs in the southern part of the state. Debra Shore of the Metropolitan Water District talked about the changes there such as seeing rainwater as resource to preserved instead of waste to be rid of.
Although I know a lot about the science of global warming, I didn't know much about what's being done locally to address it. I learned a lot at this meeting. The most encouraging bit of news was a recent law which gave customers a rebate in electricity bills included a provision to make it easier for the local utility to buy wind power. A wind farm north of Bloomington, IL was announced almost immediately after the bill passed.