Why a Faith and Sustainability Forum?
“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
The environmental impacts of climate change facing the globe, the nation, and Chicago are becoming increasingly apparent. This year national weather reports have documented eleven of the past twelve years as the hottest on record. Increased numbers and size of wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are occurring in record numbers. In response to this new reality, various bodies within Chicago have shown a desire to move to a more sustainable Chicago.
These plans depend upon widespread community engagement. Yet, regional and municipal plans tend to reflect a ‘top down’ strategy that seeks behavioral adaptation among the urban population through a combination of education, promotion, and incentives. Though important and necessary, such strategies have a limited ability to release the full creativity and innovation of ordinary citizens. A ‘bottom-up’ approach builds upon ingenuity and resourcefulness that emerges from, and is driven by, people’s interests, concerns, and commitments. The urgency of today’s environmental crisis is massive, and comprehensive action is required in multiple dimensions at all levels of society. One of these includes creating a space for complementary action from the ‘top’ (policy-makers) and the ‘bottom’ (grassroots, local organizations). This space, the ‘in-between,’ where government and communities can collaborate to work together.
In September 2012, Accelerate 77 Share Fair: Accelerating Initiatives in Chicago’s 77 Community Areas was held at Truman College. Over 435 people attended to interact with 150 community sustainability projects and 24 resource seminars. In November 2013, The Future of Chicago’s Energy, a hundred people gathered to hear about projects from the local level as well as learn about resources available for communities. In September 2014, the Ecumenical Institute and the Institute of Cultural Affairs rebranded its landmarked building at 4750 N. Sheridan, the GreenRise Uptown Learning Lab with the launch of its 485 solar panels (the 2nd largest solar array in the city of Chicago).
This year on Friday October 23rd at the ICA’s GreenRise, we will be convening a Faith & Sustainability Forum, in order to exchange stories, ideas, and resources around what Chicago’s faith communities are doing in sustainability. How are faith groups taking care of their facilities, engaging their congregation and reaching out to their neighbors to actively care for our earth? How are they promoting the wide range of sustainable topics including renewable and energy efficiency, engaging in food, waste, and water management and promoting just and sustainable policies? The Faith traditions have played significant roles in social movements throughout history and in the current Climate Change debate.
The outcome of the Faith Forum will be a new understanding of the challenges facing our Earth and the opportunities that are already being put in place for the future. We anticipate 100 people beginning to see how local congregations can be engaged in new sustainability efforts with presentations from over 20 support organizations. Using ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP)® facilitation methodology to harness the energy and wisdom those attending, we will build consensus and create action plans for implementation for each congregation.
Pre-Forum Interfaith Dialogues:
In preparation and anticipation of the event the ICA coordinated 4 focused conversations in community houses of worship. These pre-forum sessions will inform day of discussion:
Sept 9th 6:30-8:15pm @ Old St. Patrick’s Church, 700 W Adams St, Chicago, IL
Join us for a focused conversation on Pope Francis’ recent encyclical about caring for creation and working towards justice for our most vulnerable communities. The Institute of Cultural Affairs will facilitate this interfaith dialog as part of a series of events leading up to a city-wide Faith and Sustainability Forum on October 23rd.
Sept 17th 7:30-9pm @ St. Edmund Parish, 188 S Oak Park Ave, Oak Park
Co-sponsored: Interfaith Green Network, join us for a focused conversation sparked by Pope Francis’ recent encyclical about caring for creation and working towards justice for our most vulnerable communities. The Institute of Cultural Affairs will facilitate this interfaith dialog as part of a series of events leading up to a city-wide Faith and Sustainability Forum on October 23rd.
Sept 29th 7-8:30pm @ Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago
Chicago communities and the nation overall are at a tipping point for justice demonstrated by organizations rallying for recognition and action both locally and nationally. As community grounded institutions, faith organizations have a crucial role to play in responding to social and environmental crises. Join us for a focused conversation about the role houses of worship can play in caring for our children, neighbors, and earth in a just and sustainable way.
Oct 8th 7-8:30pm @ Englewood Rust, 6400 S. Stewart, Chicago, IL
Join us for a focused conversation about caring for creation and working towards justice within our communities. The Institute of Cultural Affairs will facilitate this interfaith dialog as part of a series of events leading up to a city-wide Faith and Sustainability Forum on October 23rd.
Wrapping up the pre-forum interfaith dialogues
ICA & CSLN members organized 4 geographically dispersed interfaith dialogues about the role of Faith in the Sustainability movement. 75 Chicago community residents were engaged by the end of the 4 event series and their input will be incorporated into the Oct. 23rd event. Thank you to all our participants, partners, and hosts!