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Business owner Maria Onesto Moran made a somewhat novel suggestion that customers should not view her new store, which specializes in environmentally friendly household products, as catering to a niche market. Instead, she says she would like folks to add Green Home Experts to their to-do lists alongside the corner grocery and the post office.

Onesto Moran, a Forest Park resident, opened a shop this month in Oak Park that offers everything from diapers to cleaning products to roofing shingles. The difference, of course, is her shelves are stocked with items that promise to be less harmful to the environment. Certainly she gains an edge financially if she can appeal to a broader market. But if money were the driving factor in her decision to go into business for herself, there are other more lucrative fields to be in.

Meanwhile, the West Cook YMCA in Oak Park is planning to build a $17 million gem of a facility off the west end of Madison Street in Forest Park. In all likelihood, this new YMCA will feature a number of energy-efficient designs that will cut down on the use of valuable natural resources. Those same measures will undoubtedly reduce operating costs as well.

The rub for both Onesto Moran and the YMCA is money.

The technologies used to develop safer solvents and more efficient buildings are still expensive when compared with traditional methods. But 10 – or even five – years ago, architects and small business owners would likely have been considered radicals for wading into these waters.

There is real capital to be gained in being mindful of the world around us. And that is progress.

Chamber dashes post-election silence

It was an interesting discussion Monday night when village commissioners were dragged back to the subject of parking along Madison Street. There was plenty of rhetoric that exposed a range of differing views on how to alleviate the shortage and how severe that shortage may even be.

More importantly, though, this discussion marked the first time since local elections 10 months ago that members of this group openly challenged one another on a very substantial issue. Smaller battles have been waged along the way, but none in which every council member was a willing participant. And the credit for this does not rest with anyone on the dais, but with the Chamber of Commerce and Development for forcing the issue.

When their campaigns were in full swing, members of this same group promised to address the parking shortage. Zoning codes were also a popular subject, as was the future of Roosevelt Road and other southside neighborhoods. Little if any progress has been made on these three fronts since the April elections last year.

The Chamber of Commerce and Development could have easily picked up the phone and quietly asked the folks at village hall for answers to their questions. Perhaps they would have been satisfied with the response, but by prompting a public vetting of the issue we are all reminded of the work that needs to be done.