Green Festival Speakers

Ken Dunn


Dunn, founder and president of the Resource Center, has more than forty years of experience finding productive uses for discarded materials. The Resource Center has pioneered programs for urban agriculture, recycling, reuse, and repurposing. Resource Center's City Farm program provides a model for urban agriculture in Chicago's CabriniGreen neighborhood.

In 2010 Dunn received the 5th annual Elizabeth I. Benson Award for his lifetime of work in sustainability. Dunn was a recipient of then Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn's 2006 Environmental Heroes Award for his work in urban composting and agriculture.

Dunn's breadth and depth of knowledge has been captured in numerous print articles. He is often tapped for his firsthand knowledge and innovative ideas for managing the waste stream through composting and recycling. He is featured in the following books: Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It; Native to Nowhere: Sustaining Home and Community In a Global Age; and Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago.

The Resource Center, the south sidebased nonprofit he founded in 1974, now has 38 employees running recycling, composting, bike rebuilding, job training and community gardening programs. Their City Farm is an organic garden cultivated on a vacant lot in the middle of the CabriniGreen public housing development, employing several neighborhood residents and selling vegetables to local restaurants and walkin customers. Like all of the center's projects, Dunn says, the farm is meant to demonstrate that it's viable and preferable to live in close proximity to nature: We need to create an alternative on a scale that can't be dismissed and that showcases the pleasure and beauty of life values