Solar panels on Ryan Thompson’s house on South Harvey Avenue. (PROVIDED)

IGov is an intergovernmental body composed of two representatives each from the village, public library, park district, township, and school districts 97 and 200.

It’s a family affair at 1142 S. Harvey in Oak Park. Ryan Thompson has taken to heart the need for action to ensure a more sustainable community today and for the future.

His family and house are recent recipients of the Better Homes Better Planet ( grants that help Oak Park residents shift away from or reduce their reliance on fossil fuel-related energy sources.

Using local solar installer Ailey Solar, they placed 22 south-facing panels on their house and garage. After maximizing funding sources from the village of Oak Park’s sustainability fund, state of Illinois renewable energy credits, and federal tax credits, Ryan and his family will pay virtually nothing over the long run of the project. When asked to rate the experience with the village on the grant process, he responded without a beat, “It was seamless-awesome.”

Ryan also runs a micro-coffee roaster, Sideyard Coffee. Local roasting, bike delivery, compostable bags, and direct-trade coffee beans combined to make Sideyard Coffee one of the lowest carbon footprint businesses in Oak Park.

On his Facebook page, you can watch Ryan deliver coffee on his cargo bike with his daughter. An electric car and geothermal installation, if feasible, will be next in their quest to minimize their carbon footprint.

Ryan would be happy to answer any questions you might have about replicating his efforts at your house or condo building (message him on his Sideyard Coffee Facebook page).

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