In 2016, Faith in Place launched an innovative initiative to help five Houses of Worship in high flood risk regions of Chicago install rain gardens on their properties and distribute rain barrels to nearby homeowners to reduce flooding.
Advocate United Church of Christ was enthusiastic about starting conversations with members of their congregation and neighbors about being green.
Faith in Place shared the many advantages of rain gardens with the Houses of Worship. Not only do the gardens help reduce flooding and improve water quality by allowing rain water to filter slowly through the ground instead of rushing across paved surfaces, they also save money and improve health by decreasing basement flooding and mold. The native plants restore natural habitat, and the gardens offer beauty to neighborhoods.
Rain garden installations also provide economic opportunity. Faith in Place partnered with local landscape companies to encourage them to hire local residents from the neighborhoods, and worked with companies that hire and train persons with records.
“My Christian faith speaks of forgiveness and mercy, and I was glad we could help provide jobs and training through the opportunity to work on our rain garden. It has drawn a lot of people who are curious about what it is and what it does,” said Pastor Malcolm Griffith of Advocate United Church of Christ.
The Eco-Ambassadors – Faith in Place’s summer youth program participants – eagerly joined in the efforts. During the water portion of the 6-week environmental education program, they learned how to install rain barrels and created community art projects by decorating some of the barrels.
“I feel like I’m giving something back to the community. Every day, people that live in the neighborhood would come by and say, ‘What a beautiful job you guys are doing!’ I’ve learned so much through this experience about the environment and how to address the flooding issues in Chicago. I’m proud to continue working as an Environmental Remediation Specialist,” commented Shawn Smith, who installed the rain garden at Advocate United Church of Christ.
We are proud that the five rain gardens – plus the 576 rain barrels that Faith in Place helped distribute last summer to homeowners in the neighborhood surrounding each garden – are positively impacting communities by diverting 1.6 million gallons out of Chicago stormwater sewers every year.
Faith in Place 2016 Impact
5 rain gardens planted at Houses of Worship
576 rain barrels distributed
1.6 million gallons of water diverted from sewer systems