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Faith in Place


Abstract

A project of The Center for Neighborhood Technology, which is a nonprofit organization working to create sustainable cities, Faith in Place aims to mobilize the diverse religious community of the Chicago region around environmental issues. Through its seven local Sustainability Circles and other projects, Faith in Place seeks to build relationships between different religious congregations around the shared aspiration to become better stewards of creation. Sustainability Circles have formed in Austin, County Line, Evanston, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Naperville, and Oak Park, each with a somewhat different focus. Projects run by the Circles include a neighborhood food cooperative linking local organic farmers with underserved African Americans on Chicago’s west side; an urban agriculture program; a butterfly garden; Voluntary Simplicity courses; ecologically responsible landscaping; energy-efficient and star-friendly outdoor night lighting; sustainable energy use; and public transportation expansion. In addition to the various projects initiated by the Sustainability Circles, Faith in Place currently runs three general programs for congregations in the wider metropolitan area: The Light Bulb Project, which provides participating congregations with compact fluorescent light bulbs for eco-friendly fundraising efforts; Eco-Halal, which seeks to involve the Muslim community and local organic farmers in producing zabeeha meat that has been organically and humanely raised under fair labor conditions; and Twenty Percent for Creation, a clean energy project in which participating congregations help subsidize the first wind energy facility in the state through the purchase of “green tags”. Faith in Place publishes a quarterly newsletter called One Creation and holds annual celebratory gatherings for all of its program participants and Sustainability Circle members. At present, Faith in Place is run by Circle volunteers and five paid staff members, works with seventy-five congregations representing fourteen different religious traditions, and has approximately 150 regular, active participants.

Religion

Inter-religious: Judaism

Geographic Location

United States of America
(Chicago, Illinois)

Duration of Project

1999–Present

History

Faith in Place was founded in 1999 by Steve Perkins (current Co-Director) and Clare Butterfield (current Director) out of the idea that religious organizing around environmental issues should foster transformation on both personal and collective levels. The Evanston Circle was formed as the pilot Sustainability Circle for Faith in Place, with Perkins serving as Director and Butterfield as Project Organizer. The other six Circles formed between May and December of 1999, and in 2001, Butterfield became Director of Faith in Place. In 2002, Faith in Place decided to initiate over-arching, non-geographical projects, such as Eco-Halal, in order to expand and complement the efforts of the individual Circles. Faith in Place’s newest project, Twenty Percent for Creation, began in 2003. At present, Faith in Place is seeking to expand its work in the area of sustainable food systems through a new project called Food of Faith, which aims to produce food in a manner that adheres to the dietary requirements of religious groups while supporting local, organic farmers and promoting just and equitable employment opportunities.

Mission Statement

“There are two great responsibilities common to all faiths: to love one another and to care for Creation. Faith in Place cultivates hopeful and welcoming spaces for people of all faiths to fulfill these two responsibilities as we:

  1. Reflect deeply on our own faiths;
  2. Integrate the teachings of these faiths into our economic and ecological practices; and
  3. Work together for a shared future which is economically just and ecologically sustainable.”

Partner Organizations

The Chicago Community Trust
The Ford Foundation
Heifer International
The Institute for Community Resource Development
The International Dark Skies Association
The Nathan Cummings Foundation
The Northwest Earth Institute
The U.S. Department of Agriculture

Long-Term Goals

None Listed

Bibliography

None Listed

Additional Research Resources

None Listed

Contact Information

Rev. Clare Butterfield, Director
Faith in Place
Center for Neighborhood Technology
2125 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Ph:       773.278.4800 ext. 125
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)