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Celebrating the 2019 Green Team Summit

Header image that says, "The 2019 Green Team Summit"

A discussion group sits in Stanley Field Hall at the Field Museum during Green Team Summit 2019.

On September 14th, the 2019 Green Team Summit gathered 600 people of faith at the Field Museum for a day of education, connection, and advocacy. The day was not only empowering, but celebratory as Faith in Place marked our 20th anniversary of Earth advocacy work.

Summit attendees gathered for the Welcome Session.
Summit attendees gathered for the Welcome Session.

Welcome Session

The day began with a Welcome Session honoring just how far everyone traveled to attend (Kenya was the winner this year!). We also celebrated Spanish speaking guests and provided interpretation during each session. The highlight of the Welcome Session was remarks by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle discussing ways Cook County is decreasing dependence on fossil fuels. The opening session closed with Faith in Place’s Statewide Outreach Director, Veronica Kyle, energizing attendees with an overview of all the day would hold.

Our team posing with President Toni Preckwinkle and Field Museum CEO Richard Lariviere.
Our team posing with President Toni Preckwinkle and Field Museum CEO Richard Lariviere.

Workshops & Exhibitors

Attendees spent the majority of the day engaging with workshops covering a wide range of topics from the how climate change affects migration to ways Houses of Worship can cut back on waste. For a full description of each workshop and copies of the slides presented, please scroll to the bottom of this post. These sessions provided resources and inspired growth and discussion. Guests also enjoyed the opportunity to attend a private tour of the museum during the workshops.

Some of Faith in Place Staff with Senator Tammy Duckworth.
Some of Faith in Place Staff with Senator Tammy Duckworth.

Senator Tammy Duckworth inspired attendees as the surprise guest speaker at our noon Environmental Racism workshop. In April, Sen. Duckworth co-founded the Environmental Justice Caucus in the U.S. Senate to ensure that “every Illinoisan —regardless of zip code — breathes safe air and drinks clean water.” The mission of that caucus directly ties to the longstanding environmental justice work of Faith in Place. It was indeed an honor for Sen. Duckworth to join us for the Summit. A press release about Sen. Duckworth’s time is available here.

Guests enjoying Exhibitor Tables between workshops at the 2019 Green Team Summit.
Guests enjoying Exhibitor Tables between workshops.

Twenty-two exhibitors also attended the day and shared about the way their organization or business advocates for the environment. From schools of theology to nature preserves and radio shows, the range of exhibitors demonstrated how environmental care can be incorporated into diverse areas of study and business.


Collective Resource teaching composting basics during lunch.
Collective Resource teaching composting basics.

Attendees came together over two lunch sessions where they engaged around different discussion topics or relaxed and enjoyed getting to know Earth advocates from other parts of the state.

When attendees finished their meal, Collective Resource Compost – a woman-owned commercial compost company that services more than 50 Chicagoland communities – guided guests through the process of figuring out how to compost, recycle or throw away their lunch leftovers.

Plenary Session

Xochitl-Quetzal Danza Azteca
Xochitl-Quetzal Danza Azteca

The plenary session opened with show-stopping presentation from the Xochitl-Quetzal Danza Azteca Dancers. Their ancient dance reflected thousands of years of Aztec tradition honoring the Earth. Their rhythmic drumming inspired onlookers to feel a new sense of connection with the surrounding world.

The Dr. Rev. Clare Butterfield then took the stage as the Plenary Speaker. It was Clare that started Faith in Place 20 years ago and it is her ongoing spirit and legacy that guide and root Faith in Place’s ongoing work.

Dr. Rev. Clare Butterfield delivering her keynote address.
Dr. Rev. Clare Butterfield delivering her keynote address.

Her speech called the listener to not devote attention to small responses to environmental injustice and the climate crisis at the expense of advocating for policies that address the scale of the problem. Clare shared, “…policy advocacy must be the end goal. The change is not in the way each of us lives our little life, but in how we all live our lives together. And by pushing for that change in an interfaith context, insisting that every faith be heard and counted, we create a context of love. We know the end is policy. The means are lovingkindness.” A transcript of her full remarks is available here.

Chicago's Historic Stone Temple Church Receiving their Green Team Award.
Chicago's Historic Stone Temple Church Receiving their Green Team Award.

After Clare’s moving reflection, the dedicated work of 129 Green Teams across Illinois was celebrated. Green Teams work throughout the year to educate and advocate for environmental care in their own communities. Awards were given in special recognition of the remarkable work accomplished by five Houses of Worship. The following five Houses of Worship received an award: Church of the Good Shepherd in Carbondale, St. Simon’s Episcopal Church in Arlington Heights, First Presbyterian Church of Libertyville, First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, and the Historic Stone Temple Church in Chicago.

This Word Tree is built with the essential building blocks of Green Team advocacy.
This Word Tree is built with the essential building blocks of Green Team advocacy.

And last but not least, everyone enjoyed watching attendees win fabulous prizes provided by the Summit’s generous sponsors. These included 3 refurbished bicycles, a rain barrel, and passes to the Brookfield Zoo, Shedd Aquarium and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

All in all, it was a memorable day filled with energy and passion around caring for the Earth. Attendees from across the state and around the world came together to learn what steps can be taken to address the monumental challenges facing our environment. Encouraged by the hundreds of people helping their own communities embody environmental justice and Earth care, Faith in Place is deeply grateful for all that made the day a success.


Plenary Keynote Speech

A transcript of the Plenary Keynote Speech is available here.

Workshop: Branching Out into the World: Faithful Advocacy

Presenter: Pastor Scott Onqué

Description: There is only so much that we can do as individuals and houses of worship. We must change policies and systems to create the world we want with clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. People of faith are a powerful force for change!

Join us to learn how you can advocate for environmental justice all year round. Learn more about the legislative process and the importance of constituent voices. If you are worried about advocacy causing divisiveness in your faith community, attend this workshop to learn how to make a difference in a way that fits with the tenets of your faith.

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Reduce & Recycle Religiously

Presenter: Christina Krost

Description: Did you know that each person in the United States generates approximately 4.5 pounds of trash per day!? Did you know that landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions – a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change?

Recycling, composting, and reducing the overall amount of waste that we create are all essential, but it can be challenging to get your faith community on board. This workshop will present our newly-created toolkit for houses of worship to educate their members. You will learn how to take simple steps in your house of worship and home toward achieving a zero-waste lifestyle.

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Displaced Roots: Climate Migration and Resilience

Presenter: Rev. Brian Sauder and John Lee

Description: As climate change intensifies droughts, flooding, storms, and other natural disasters, more people are forced from their homes due to shortages in food, water, and resources. How are people of faiths to respond to this ecological and humanitarian issue?

Join us for more information along with an interactive interfaith dialogue to explore together how people of diverse faiths can take action for immigration justice and climate justice.

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Plant the Seeds: Get Started with a Green Team

Presenter: Isioma Odum and Samantha Miller

Description: Faith communities that have the most success with green initiatives are the ones that have a small group of committed people who regularly meet to connect their faith community’s spiritual practices and traditions with concern for justice and for the Earth. Green Teams educate their members, motivate their faith community to take action, and celebrate accomplishments.

Attend this workshop to receive an introduction to what a Green Team does and how to start one at your faith community. Meet other new and seasoned Green Team members for a time of networking and sharing ideas. After this workshop, you will be equipped to go back to your house of worship to activate a Green Team and receive support from Faith in Place staff “coaches."

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Environmental Racism in Illinois: How People of Faith Can Address Inequalities

Presenter: Pastor Scott Onqué

Description: Did you know that people of color in the U.S. are more likely to be subjected to poorer air quality than white Americans? As people of faith, we have a responsibility to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live in a safe and healthy environment.

Environmental Justice takes the movement from land conservation of natural resources and broadens it to include the health of where we live, work, play, and learn. This workshop will provide an overview of Environmental Justice, discuss systemic racism as the cause of environmental injustices, and empower you to act here in Illinois.

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Just Eating? Food and Faith Curriculum

Presenter: Rev. Cindy Shepherd and Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell

Description: Just Eating? While this phrase could mean only Eating, the word "just" also means “being honorable and fair in one’s dealings.” Eating can be a mundane activity done with little thought or reflection; or it can be an opportunity to thoughtfully live out our faith and practice justice.

This workshop will introduce you to the “Just Eating?” curriculum of Faith in Place that engages with how our food choices affect the health of our bodies, our communities, and the health of the Earth. You will have the opportunity to provide input into the latest expanded version of the curriculum and become trained with practical ways to take this educational resource back to your faith community.

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Growing Your Efforts: Advanced Green Teams

Presenter: Princess Harris and Dan Huntsha

Description: Are you out of project ideas for your house of worship? Has your Green Team been inactive for a while? Are you facing challenges to get buy-in from faith leaders or the rest of your faith community? If your Green Team is “stuck in the Green muck,” this workshop is for you!

Share triumphs and brainstorm ways to overcome challenges at this workshop. You will hear from previous years’ winners of Green Team awards for inspiration and receive tips on how to move forward to take your Green Team to the next level.

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Worship Under the Trees

Presenter: Veronica Kyle

Description: Are your green efforts trapped inside the walls of your house of worship? Learn how you can enrich the spiritual practices of your faith tradition by connecting to the world around us and reclaiming the sacredness of Place.

Rev. Victoria Loorz, leader of the Wild Church Network, will invite you to reimagine how your faith community interacts with the world outdoors and provide creative ideas for integrating the natural world into worship. Although the name of her network is “Wild Church,” this workshop will be geared toward an interfaith audience and is open to all faiths.

The presentation is available here.

Workshop: Sprouting Environmental Action Through Youth Empowerment

Presenters: Eco-Ambassadors

Description: Young people here and around the world are already showing bold leadership on environmental issues. The next generations will be increasingly impacted by climate change and environmental degradation and are determined to do something about it!

Youth and Organizers from both the Faith in Place Eco-Ambassador and the Field Museum Chicago Green Ambassador Program will talk briefly about their summer youth programs.

Several youth will present the youth-designed environmental projects that they completed this summer and how the programs have helped them to take on more responsibility for their future. Learn how to engage and empower young people from your faith community and your family on environmental issues. There will be an opportunity for a Q&A with the youth panel. This workshop is open to anyone over age 13 and older.

Workshop: Harness the Sun: Solar for Houses of Worship and Residences

Presenters: Ramont Bell

Description: Is your house of worship ready to embrace the bright future of solar energy? Attend this workshop to learn about all steps of the process, including ensuring that your building is as energy efficient as possible first.

We’ll cover financing options, how to select a solar developer, infrastructure, and how to educate your members and the wider community about your efforts. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn how to go solar at your home or participate in a community solar project!

The presentation is available here.

Welcome Session Slides are available here.

Plenary Session Slides are available here.

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