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Third Annual Green Team Summit: Inspiring Deeper Connections to Justice

Faithful stewards and Earth lovers gathered by the hundreds to connect, learn, and celebrate with one another in Chicago at The Field Museum on Saturday, September 22nd.

Participants cheer "Get Connected!" during the Plenary Session of the 2018 Green Team Summit.
Participants cheer "Get Connected!" during the Plenary Session

Faith in Place’s Third Annual Green Team Summit boasted hundreds of participants from all over Illinois, the Midwest, and even Canada. Participants from Lake County and Champaign/Urbana also rode buses to join in the day’s activities.

As the name would suggest, many participants came alongside their Green Teams. Green teams are groups of people who combine their efforts for a common purpose – to love and care for the Earth. For many, this call is rooted in their faith, and so they work with others in their faith communities to make moral choices about their environmental impact.

Excited guests flocked to the venue from the time the event commenced at 9:00 am, until it concluded at 5:00 pm.

It was an interfaith experience, with those from various faith traditions (Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Protestant Christian, Unitarian, etc.) and those with no faith affiliation in attendance.

A Plenary Session kicked off the Summit in the James Simpson Theater. President and Executive Director, Rev. Brian Sauder, welcomed everyone to the inspiring day and had the distinct pleasure to introduce, Mark Bouman, Chicago Region Program Director of the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum. Mark then welcomed everyone on behalf of the museum. Without his support, along with the patience and persistence of Ellen Woodward and Aasia Castaneda, this event would not be possible. Their generosity extends beyond simply donating the space to Faith in Place, but also granting Summit guests free admission to the museum – a true partnership!

Faith in Place Board Chair and U of I Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Ashlynn Stillwell followed with remarks about her research on water and encouragement to immerse ourselves in Interfaith Earth Care.

Dr. Stillwell's focus on water provided a fantastic transition for Brian to introduce our Keynote Speaker, Candace Hunter. Candace is a local Chicago artist who uses collage to "explore what is neighborhood, country, and world." Her collection, Dust in their Veins: a Visual Response to the Global Water Crisis, displayed in the theater, was the focal point of Hunter's talk.

Her speech connected the dots between access to clean water and the systems of oppression – racism and patriarchy –that affect the lives of women and girls who collect water daily. Hunter’s powerful message was met with a standing ovation.

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Candace Hunter gives the Keynote.

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Art on display from Dust In Their Veins by Candace Hunter

An interfaith clergy panel complemented the message, adding their remarks on the topics at hand. The panel featured: Huda Alkaff, founder and director of Wisconsin Green Muslims; Dr. Nani Bhowmik, President of the Board of Trustees of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of Central Illinois located in Champaign, Illinois; Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton, Ph.D., Soto Zen Buddhist priest and Guiding Dharma Teacher at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate; Sister Mary Frohlich, vowed member of the Society of the Sacred Heart and professor at Catholic Theological Union; Rabbi Edwin C. Goldberg, senior rabbi of Temple Sholom of Chicago; Syda Segovia Taylor, an elected member of the Local Spiritual Assembly for the Baha’i’s of Chicago, and Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Wilson, Director, Collaboration and Community Partnerships for the Presbytery of Chicago, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The interfaith clergy panel responds to the keynote address.
The panel responds to the keynote address.

To round out the Plenary Session, we recognized our Diamond Sponsors, the Field Museum and Hanley Foundation, and our 2018 Outstanding Volunteer, Dr. James Cavallo.

For valiant efforts in Earth care, we honored five Green Teams with a "Green Team Award." Those awarded were: First Methodist Church of Normal, Vernon Park Church of God – Chicago, Our Saviour's Lutheran Church of Arlington Heights, St. Joseph's Parish – Lake County, and McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation.

Others received honorable mentions to recognize their efforts. Those honored were: Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church – Chicago, Chosen Tabernacle Ministries – Bronzeville, St. Mary of the Annunciation – Lake County, First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, Covenant United Church of Christ – South Holland. Awards were presented by Central Illinois Outreach Director, Cindy Shepherd.

Listen, Lead, and Share workshop participants share their vision for a clean energy future in Illinois.
Listen, Lead, and Share workshop participants share their vision for a clean energy future in IL.

The summit hosted various workshops and even an exhibit tour, which took an intensive look at some important environmental issues. These informational sessions covered the following topics: interfaith water education, connecting to the solar grid at houses of worship, listening sessions inspiring thoughtful discussion on goals for environmental policy, conservation and monarch butterfly migration, connection to Faith in Place's programs through a Green Team, unique challenges for Green Teams, advocacy training for environmental justice issues as a faithful citizen, and a workshop for youth featuring Faith in Place's Eco-Ambassdors.

Spanish translation was provided for the plenary session and one of the workshops. These sessions provided resources as well as facilitated transformative, inspiring, and productive discussion.

Many used their lunch session to explore the museum and enjoy a low-cost lunch from Mariano's. Collective Resource – a woman-owned commercial compost company that services more than 50 Chicagoland communities – provided composting support during lunch!

Several organizations who sponsor or partner with Faith in Place were invited to staff a table where visitors could learn more about their work and Earth care efforts.

Field Museum Staff exhibit and educate about animals native to Illinois
Field Museum Staff exhibit and educate about animals native to Illinois

Our Closing Session offered guests a unique opportunity to view The Guardians, a film which explores the deep interconnections between humans and nature by highlighting the relationship between the monarch butterfly and an indigenous community in Michoacán, Mexico. Both communities depend on the same ancient forest for their survival and now face an uncertain future. Tying in nicely with the Field's conservation efforts and our Migration & Me program, this beautiful film helps viewers gain perspective on the ecological challenges facing us all.

Chicago Outreach Director, Veronica Kyle, introduces the film
Chicago Outreach Director, Veronica Kyle, introduces the film

For the first time, we also offered guests the opportunity to win fabulous door prizes just for staying until the end. These prizes included: 5-person Shedd Aquarium passes, Patagonia gear, and gift baskets from The Dill Pickle Co-op and I Have a Bean coffee company.

2018 Eco-Ambassador, Mariah Mallory, sends us off with her rap!
2018 Eco-Ambassador, Mariah Mallory, sends us off with her rap!

To wrap the day, talented 2018 Eco-Ambassador, Mariah Mallory, performed a rap she wrote this summer! She reflected on the environment and lessons learned during the summer youth program.

Even after the festivities officially concluded, guests were happy to laugh and talk with another. Upon leaving, guests were invited to leave their feedback on the summit and were able to enter a raffle for many even more fabulous prizes, including jewelry from fair trade fashion brands, gift cards to local businesses, CSA shares, passes to The Field Museum, Chicago Botanic Gardens, and Brookfield Zoo, and more!

Participants explore exhibits in The Field Museum.
Participants explore exhibits in The Field Museum.

Guests wrote about feeling energized to advocate for environmental justice in their surveys. One guest commented, "I like the Summit because it helps me to connect and find possible resources and support for issues, such as urban flooding and lead in Chicago pipes, which impact Southside communities. Further empowers me to persist in advocating in my community for environmental justice."

Similarly, another felt empowered to testify at the Environmental Protection Agency's October 1st hearing on the proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule.

Thanks to all who attended and made this event a success and are further inspired to take action in their communities! Faith in Place is here to empower you and your faith community in these efforts – please contact us if you would like Green Team Coaching or to engage with one of our programs.

Workshop Resources

Want to review what you heard in your workshops or connect with the presenters? Unable to attend and want to learn more? View PDFs of the presentations below:

Listen, Lead, and Share for Climate Justice (Escuchar, Guiar, y Compartir tu visión) Facilitated by Chicago Outreach Director, Veronica Kyle, North & West Suburbs Outreach Director Dan Huntsha, and Lake County Outreach Director Celeste Flores.

Get Connected Through a Green Team Facilitated by Isioma Odum, Bronzeville Outreach Coordinator, and Christina Krost, Outreach Support.

Our Grandchildren's Water Facilitated by Ramont Bell, Water Preservation and Energy Outreach Coordinator.

Get Connected to Monarchs and Migration Facilitated by Dr. Abigail Derby Lewis, Senior Conservation Ecologist and Senior Program Manager, Chicago Region for the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum, and Princess Harris, Migration & Me Outreach Coordinator.

Engaging with Faith in Place's Programs & Resources Facilitated by Isioma Odum, Bronzeville Outreach Coordinator, and Callie Mabry, Communications Director.

Connecting with Youth Facilitated by Eco-Ambassador Youth Program staff Karen Winters, and Eco-Ambassadors.

Unique Challenges for Green Teams Facilitated by Chicago Outreach Director, Veronica Kyle, and Christina Krost, Outreach Support.

Faithful Citizens Workshop Facilitated by Executive Director, Rev. Brian Sauder, and Development Director, Vee Likes.

Connect to the Grid: Solar at Your House of Worship Facilitated by Central Illinois Outreach Director, Rev. Cindy Shepherd, and Outreach Support, Samantha Miller.

Museum Exhibit Guided Tour (Visita guiada de exhibición del museo) Facilitated by Field Museum volunteer, Howard Zar.

Local Farmers Meeting Facilitated by Carolyn Smith, Managing Partner of C&T Smith, LP.

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