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Pressing for Justice

Pressing for Justice

Common Good.001

Pressing for Justice in the Ecosystems Where Life Thrives or Dies

Have you heard of The Common Good Podcast by Jubilee Economics?  If not … it’s time to be introduced!

This episode features Lan Richart, co-director of Eco-Justice Collaborative.  Listen and learn a bit more about Lan, who created healthy wetlands for many years in the business he and his spouse, Pam, owned. She led municipalities in planning their futures, helping them factor in the environmental issues. They retired early from their business, sold it, and formed the nonprofit Eco-Justice Collaborative, based in Chicago. They’ve just moved south to Champaign, Illinois, putting them in the middle of the state and much closer to the vast Illinois coalfields being mined to meet our species’ voracious appetite for energy.

Their work reveals the high costs of coal energy including:

1. Healthcare costs from coal dust and dirty air.
2. Destruction of species life depends on as mining displaces them.
3. Raising global temperatures by oversaturating the air with carbon dioxide.
4. Destroying neighborhoods and rural culture through displacement.
5. Contaminating fresh water streams, underground water, and drinking wells.

But their eco-justice work is shaped far more by their vision of what we are capable of than opposing the mistakes we are making. Their passion for eco-justice counters injustices with informed convictions that a just world works better for everyone and all life. One example is their coordination of Bioneers conferences in the Chicago region: 2012 | 2013.

Lan and Pam were part of Jubilee Economics from its beginning in 2000 and continued until they formed the Eco-Justice Collaborative. Their eco-justice work amazes in its scope and passion. Just take a look at their website!! They put themselves all out and then leverage that energy through collaborations. Their vision is spawned by imagination and spirituality. What they do flows from their faith.

MENTIONS in This Episode

International Energy Agency statistics on coal.

Lee and Harry’s new Shared Housing Blog.

Lee’s book Blinded by Progress at TheOneEarthProject.com | REVIEWS.

The mission of Simple Living Works! is “equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly.” Those three elements come together at Christmas time. SLW! signature publication — Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? — is available in three forms this fall: podcast, legacy (blog) and 2014 edition.

Read about Jerry’s encounter with JEM at the Chicago house. Scroll to Posts 93-94.

Organizing Retreat, HCA

Organizing Retreat, HCA

HCA 2013 organizing retreat
Flier, May Organizing Retreat

Save the Date!

Join the Heartland Coalfield Alliance for a two-day organizing retreat
Help Build a Movement

When: May 17th – 19th

Where: Camp Ondessonk, Ozark, IL 62972

Registration: Is required. Registration and pricing (base on type of lodging selected) will be available on line in the next few weeks

This retreat will focus on building the skills, networks and campaigns we need to create a just and sustainable energy future in America’s Heartland (draft flier attached).

We will gather in the heart of southern Illinois to share stories, learn new skills, meet allies, and experience the beautiful Shawnee forest. The schedule and registration will be provided soon, but we hope you will set aside time in your schedule now.

The retreat will feature keynote speakers and three different tracks:

  • Generalist – Introductory information and stories about:
    • The different types of mining and the issues associated with with each.
    • Coal ash.
    • Coal subsidies.
    • Energy transition.
  • Organizing Basics:
    • Strategic massaging.
    • Activist development.
  • Technical:
    • Permitting primer.
    • Lessons learned with SMCRA, NPDES and 404/401 permitting.

The Retreat will take place Camp Ondessonk’s Retreat Center. Hostel style guest rooms with high-speed Internet will be available in the St. Noel Center. For the more adventurous are three-sided cabins in the forest built into the bluffs. And, for the truly hearty, there will be tent camping areas available as well. The camp offers a beautiful dining facility and a wide variety of gathering places for relaxing and continuing the conversation.


Free time will be scheduled so that you can enjoy the beauty of mid-May in southern Illinois, and we’ll enjoy Carter and Connolley, Illinois’ “Preeminent Folk Warriors”, who have a gift for conveying environmental messages through their songwriting and storytelling in the most entertaining and engaging way.

Please contact a member of the retreat organizing committee if you have questions or comments:

Brian Perbix, PrairieRivers Network
Terri Treacy, Sierra Club
Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative

We look forward to continued collaboration both at our December meeting and May retreat. With your support and participation, the Heartland Coalfield Alliance can be a powerful force for change!

Attention All Tweeters!

Attention All Tweeters!

Play Where’s My ‘Walderman’
April 21st, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd Floor
121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago

OR … Play from your favorite armchair if you don’t live in Chicago!

The Chicago Clean Power Ordinance that would cut harmful pollution from the two coal plants in Chicago (or shut them down) now has enough support to pass City Council. A committee hearing on this groundbreaking ordinance will be held on April 21.

Chicagoans are looking to Mayor Daley to allow a vote on the ordinance before he leaves office mid-May. If passed, Chicago would be the first city in the country to regulate emissions from coal plants!
However … Chicago Alderman have a way of disappearing just before an important vote – or not showing up at all!  It’s time to show City Council  that politics as usual won’t be tolerated. Each alderman knows you’ll be watching and twittering about their performance – good or bad – on this landmark legislation!

How to Hold the Alderman Accountable!

Join Eco-Justice Collaborative and the Chicago Clean Power Coalition as we attempt to open the lid on the workings of the joint committee hearing and shine a “virtual” light on the operations that seemingly work only with Mayor Daley’s permission.

We invite you to “quote” and “re-tweet” about the positions and whereabouts of committee members.  Where do the alderman stand on the issue of protecting the health of Chicagoans from harmful air emissions? Are they undecided?  Hoping the issue goes away or do they have political courage?

Where are they on the day of a hearing to consider a critical measure that will protect their constituents?  Too busy with other things?  Hiding?  OR are they fully present and engaged?  If they do their job, we hope to make them look good.  If not, we hope to embarrass them with messages from around the world.

You can track the presence (or lack thereof) of each of the 24 alderman on the joint committee by watching the tweets on EJC’s “Where’s My Walderman?” website which will go live tomorrow morning and include live streams under photos for each alderman.  If they are not present, their photo will be placed with a “waldo” image. Visit the landing page today to watch the tweets that are already coming in.

Clicking on their name or photo from this “soon to go live” will take you to their ward page on the City Council website.  Make calls to support them, or to pressure them to show up to the hearing! Tweet using their specific #hastag to have your thoughts show up in their individual Twitter stream.  Re-tweet others’ thoughts.  Play along!

Here’s How to Join in the Fun:

1. All you need is a computer or a mobile phone.

2. If you don’t have one, go on line and get a twitter account.  It’s easy and free!

3. If you can, join us in the City Council Chambers on Thursday, April 21st at 10:00 am.  You can tweet directly about the issue and your observations.

4. If you can’t be at the hearing, watch this page.  Each alderman has his or her own Twitter stream.  Join in with your comments.  Tweet, re-tweet and spread the word to your followers.

5. Use the hashtag #chicoal for the general stream.  Use both #chicoal and the alderman specific hashtag #waldoX (where X = the aldderman’s ward number, i.e. #waldo49 for Alderman Joe Moore) for committee members.

6.  Pass the information along to other social media networks.  Invite others to join you!

Let’s communicate with the world!  Which aldermen would want to be recorded as having decided NOT to be present to vote on this historic legislation that would protect the health of their constituents?  We’ll just have to see, won’t we?

Need Background on the Ordinance?

Visit the Chicago Clean Power Coalition’s website.  Read Jeff Bigger’s Huffington Post article to see how things are heating up:  C-Day Twitters: Will Chicago Aldermen Make Clean Energy History Or Disappear into Big Coal’s Shadow Tomorrow?

AND you can watch this short video clip from WTTW’s Chicago tonight that aired April 19, 2011.

Follow EJCChicago on Twitter

Saving Green Together

Saving Green Together
Free Energy Workshops – A Six Week Series in Rogers Park

All workshops, sponsored by the 49th Ward Green Corps, Transition Rogers Park and Loyola University’s Environmental Sustainability Class are free.

EJC is one of the founders of the Transition Town Initiative in Rogers Park and will be co-leading the first workshop and participating in the remainder of the series.  This is a great opportunity to learn hands-on skills, meet funders and contractors, learn where to spend your dollars and time first, and hear about the role renewables play in an overall residential home.  And if you live in a multi-family building, this is one of the few places to learn how to organize to make effective change!

Click here for a flier

Asleep at the Switch … EJC at 2011 Congress on Urban Ministy

Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence

2011 Congress on Urban Ministry
Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education
March 1-3, 2011
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
2233 S. Martin L. King Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60616

In 1968, the Kerner Commission called violence “as American as apple pie.” They claimed that violence was imbedded in our culture. Some 40 years later, our cities serve as prime evidence supporting this claim.

As the theme of the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry, Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence implies that violence doesn’t just exist on our streets but in our hearts, in our systems, in our public policy, and in the very way we live together as humans. To look at urban ministry as Peacemaking is to see the gift of the gospel as a great potential for affecting us in our everyday lives and in an increasingly globalizing web of inter-connectivity.

This year’s SCUPE conference believes that peacemaking takes many forms, and has identified themes that will solicit provocative discussion and engage participants in developing strategic approaches to working in urban communities. One of these themes is violence to the environment.

Eco-Justice Collaborative has been selected to present a workshop on this theme, which we’ve called:

Asleep at the Switch
Violence to America’s Heartland and
A Wake Up Call to a Just Energy Future

Our highly developed western lifestyles bring us unparalleled comfort and convenience, but also isolate our actions from their consequences.  With the simple act of turning on a light switch, we set in motion a chain of events that destroys farmland and forest, poisons drinking water, pollutes the air we breathe and displaces entire communities.

This is happening in America’s heartland and projected to dramatically increase.  How are we called to respond as people faith?  What can we do to stop the violence to God’s creation?

What is the Congress on Urban Ministry?

The Congress on Urban Ministry is a biennial event organized by SCUPE in partnership with organizations, agencies, and denominations doing urban ministry. Over its 30 year history the Congress has proven itself as a premier, international gathering of hundreds of pastors, practitioners, academicians, students and people with a passion for social justice who come together to take part in educating, celebrating, and collaborating towards God’s reign in our cities. This diverse group of participants is committed to finding creative ways to prepare and resource individuals so that their ministries may better confront the issues and needs of their communities.


The Congress will host nationally-renowned speakers as well various networking events, evening worship, site visits, and social actions that put theory into practice. There will also be opportunities for attendees to participate in art, prayer, concerts, and informal discussions with the presenters and the grassroots practitioners who make a real impact in their communities everyday.

Attendees will have the opportunity to be challenged and inspired from nearly 50 workshops focusing on such topics as: asset-based community development, resisting economic violence, peacemaking with urban youth, restoring urban communities, faith-based public policy advocacy, urban &suburban partnerships, time-banking, immigration theology, hip-hop as a theological paradigm, and ecological peacemaking.

The event will be co-chaired by Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, president and founder of the Healing of the Nations Foundation and Senior Minister Emeritus of Riverside Church, and Rev. Dr. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina.

Click here for more information about the Congress on Urban Ministry and here to register.

Part II: From the Holler to the Hood – Stories of Oppreseion

Part II:  From the Holler to the Hood – Stories of Oppression

Larry Gibson, Keeper of the Mountains, is coming to Chicago!

January 24, 2011
Loyola University, Lakeshore Campus
6525 North Sheridan Road, Chicago
Crown Center Auditorium
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Click here for a flier

Join Eco-Justice Collaborative at Loyola to welcome Larry Gibson as he talks about mountaintop removal mining and the extractive industry.  He will share his recent experiences traveling with Amazon Watch.  The purpose of this trip was to learn from and connect with community leaders who are fighting for justice in their communities, much as he is in Appalachia.  Indigenous Nations in the Ecuadorian Rain Forest have been poisoned by the massive oil drilling operations that Texaco, now Chevron, undertook to profit from their people.

Also featured are:

Junior Walk, Coal River Mountain Watch.  Junior will share his experiences growing up in the coalfields, and explain why he decided to stay at home to participate in the ongoing struggle to end mountaintop removal mining (rather than leave the area for a college education).

Ian Viteria, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.  Ian will talk about the impacts of burning coal felt in his community, and the campaign to clean up or shut down Fisk and Crawford, Chicago’s coal-burning power plants.

Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative.  Pam will talk about Illinois coal extraction, making the case that Illinois, with its large reserves of high-energy coal, is slated to be the next Appalachia.  Impacts from coal mining already include destroyed farmland and forest; polluted water; coal slurry impoundments and slurry injection into abandoned mine shafts and displaced communities.

If you live in Chicago, this is a great way to learn about the impacts of extractive mining and what you can do to work for a sane energy policy.

Watch our website for details as they are available.  Contact Pam or Lan at ejc@ecojusticecollaborative.org with questions.

Lifestyles for a Sustainable Future

Lifestyles for a Sustainable Future

Six-week Series
February 6, 2011 through April 24, 2011
(Sunday evenings, beginning February 6)

Cost:  $50

As we face growing concerns over a warming planet, diminishing natural resources, food security and the end of the fossil fuel age, we must ask ourselves: How does our faith guide us? How can our actions reflect the justice and affimation of life in which we believe?

Join this interactive educational series that blends information, biblical reflection and personal covenant in a small group setting.

During our time together we’ll explore a variety of key issues of eco-justice, such as exponential growth and sustainability; food; water; and energy,   We’ll determine our ecological footprint, discuss its social and environmental implications, and learn ways in which we can bring our lives more in harmony with what we believe.

If you are ready to make changes that lessen your impact on our world and support life-giving, rather than life-destroying global systems, then contact us at 773-556-3418 or email ejc@ecojusticecollaborative.org

Join the Million Letter March!

Join the Million Letter March on
Effective Climate Legislation!

Eco-Justice Collaborative believes that the urgency of climate change demands immediate and effective action!  But Congress has failed to introduce, let alone debate and pass, effective climate legislation.

Failure to act – and to ACT SOON with both integrity and justice – creates an unacceptable risk of locking in irreparable damage to our climate and ecosystems, damage that would last thousands of years.

The Million Letter March is a campaign supported by James Hansen, Bill McKibben and Lester Brown that is intended to show Congress that the American people and our international supporters want effective action on climate change now.  First watch the video … and then click to read the principles and to learn more!

Principles of the Million Letter March

We believe these seven elements are critical to effective U.S. climate legislation:

  1. Science Based Targets: Select annual targets for U.S. emission reductions consistent with peer-reviewed science, which shows that rapid reductions in fossil fuel emissions are needed to return to safe levels of atmospheric CO2, below 350 parts per million.
  2. Carbon Fees and Rebates (Green Checks): Impose gradually rising carbon fees on fossil fuels as they enter the economy, sufficient to ensure that clean energy (such as wind, solar and geothermal) becomes cost-competitive with fossil fuels within a decade. Return all revenues from carbon fees in monthly per-person rebate checks to all American households, so that everyone can afford the energy they need during the transition to efficient use of clean energy.
  3. Maintain EPA Authority: Preserve EPA’s existing authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
  4. Enact New Complementary Regulatory Programs: Supplement EPA’s existing authority with strengthened energy-efficiency regulation, protection of natural forests and improved agricultural practices that favor clean energy and conservation of resources.
  5. Public Investment to Remove Barriers to an Efficient, Clean-Energy Economy: Shift subsidies from fossil fuels and make additional investments that will assist with a rapid transition to efficiency and clean energy, including improved public transit, improved energy transmission-line infrastructure, and energy research and development.
  6. Assist Developing Countries with a Rapid Transition to Clean Energy: U.S. efforts alone cannot prevent catastrophic climate change. U.S. assistance and appropriate incentives are needed to insure a rapid transition to clean energy in developing countries.
  7. Annual Evaluations of the Progress: Annual evaluations are crucial to determine whether science-based targets are met and whether these targets need to be modified. Annual reports should also identify the additional measures needed to assure the success of the program. These reports should provide specific recommendations and be subject to public comment.

Click to read more about the Million Letters March’s position on:

Climate Change
Cap and Trade and Offsets
The Need to March

Interested in writing a letter?  Click here!

Click to Discuss…

November 17 Bioneers Meeting!

Creating a Chicago Bioneers Great Lakes Chapter and 2011 Conference

Organizing for a Chicago Great Lakes Chapter of Bioneers has begun!  We’re meeting again on October 6 to talk about roles, responsibilities and generate ideas for carrying out a 2011 theme, potentially based on looking at Chicago as a living city – how is it growing; where it is failing and how it is healing or needs to heal.  Chicago could be compared to the human body in terms of its nervous system, blood, bones, heart and wastes.

Our next meeting takes place:

November 17, 2010
5:00 to 7:00 PM
Conference Room, Roots & Shoots
70 East Lake, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60626

What We’ve Accomplished


Our 12 month planning horizon is expected to be carried out in three stages.  We’re still in Stage I:

Stage I – Assemble planning committees, agree on a conference theme and identify an appropriate venue

Stage II – Plan and implement 2011 conference

Stage III – Conduct thorough evaluation of conference planning and implementation; determine feasibility and interest in hosting annual conference


We’re following a structure that includes a Core Planning Committee comprised of representatives from each of several organizing committees:

  • Program
  • Funding
  • Outreach
  • Publicity
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Food

Other committees may be added as the need for them is determined.


We’ve begun to identify organizations and individuals who might be helpful to the planning of this event as committee members and/or key resources.  This includes ensuring that our partners “at the table” reflect Chicago’s economic, racial and cultural diversity.


We now have a list serv for communications, a wiki to help us plan and organize and a structure for meeting minutes and agendas.  We have created a table identifying potential partners to contact for the core planning team, committees and possible workshops and keynote speakers.  And we have an organizing guide provided to us by our friends in Traverse City that will help us move forward efficiently in our work!

Where We’re Headed

By the end of the year, we hope to assemble working committees, agree on a conference theme and identify an appropriate venue, completing Stage I!

Chicago Tells Leaders: “Get to work” on Clean air, Climate

Banner Message For Finishers


Chicago Clean Power Ordinance Supporters Rally in Chicago
As One of Over 7,000 Simultaneous Climate Events in 188 Countries

CHICAGOFor the second consecutive year, Chicagoans rallied on the International Day of Climate Action to send a strong message to their leaders: this time, “GET TO WORK!” on clean air and climate change.  The Chicago Clean Power Coalition (CCPC) rally at the Alivio Medical Center in Pilsen drew hundreds of Chicagoans, and is one of more than 7,000 simultaneous actions worldwide conducted as part of the International Day of Climate Action, the largest day of global climate action ever organized.

CCPC organizers called on Chicago Aldermen and Mayor Daley to enact the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, announced at the 2009 Rally by Ald. Joe Moore (49th), and introduced in April, 2010.  It is designed to reduce harmful air pollution from Chicago’s largest point source of carbon-dioxide (CO2) – the 100 year old Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants, in Pilsen and Little Village respectively, owned by Midwest Generation.  To date, fourteen Chicago Aldermen have signed on as co-sponsors of the Clean Power Ordinance.

“We’re here today because people in Chicago are doing their part to fight climate change. We understand that we must break our dependence on coal – now we need our leaders to join the fight” said Edyta Sitko, Greenpeace Field Organizer in Chicago. “Greenpeace is excited to be a part of the Chicago Clean Power Day of Action because as a country we are at a point where we must say ‘enough is enough’. We refuse to allow coal companies like Midwest Generation to determine the future of our communities.”

“We must take the steps necessary to become true advocates for the environment and help all Chicagoans who live with the after effects of the polluting coal plants,” said 32nd Ward Alderman Waguespack, a co-sponsor of the Ordinance.  “As I have stated before, the pollution from coal plant particulates doesn’t stop at ward borders, they go across the entire city, across the Midwest, and across the entire world.  Everyone is affected and everyone, especially elected officials in Chicago, must have concern for the future well being of all our citizens.”

A Harvard School of Public Health study found that emissions from these two plants annually cause 41 premature deaths, 550 emergency room visits and 2,800 asthma attacks. The effects are larger the closer one lives to the plants.  Local residents and activists attribute numerous adverse health effects to the continued operation of the Fisk coal plant in Pilsen, and the Crawford coal plant in Little Village, prompting CCPC organizer groups PERRO* and LVEJO** to actively campaign for the closure of the polluting Fisk and Crawford coal plants.

Both the Alivio Center and the Fisk coal plant are in the 25th ward of Ald. Danny Solis, who has refused to support efforts to pass the Clean Power Ordinance.  A review of campaign donation records by CCPC member group PERRO revealed that Ald. Solis has received  almost $50,000 in contributions since 1999 from Midwest Generation  (Source: online at http://tinyurl.com/solis-midwestgen.)

“It’s time for Ald. Solis and the rest of the Chicago City Council to finally ‘get to work’ for the benefit of the people of Pilsen and Chicago,” notes Jerry Mead-Lucero, of PERRO.  “Ald. Ricky Muňoz (22nd) has the Crawford coal plant in his district, and supports this Ordinance.  What are the rest of Chicago’s Aldermen waiting for?” Mead-Lucero wonders.

“This is an international day of action on climate,” observed Pam Richart of Eco-Justice Collaborative, a Coalition member group. “Urgent action.  Fisk and Crawford are Chicago’s largest stationary sources of global warming pollution – emitting the CO2  equivalent of nearly 875,000 cars.  Their clean-up would be a major step towards reducing Chicago’s carbon footprint.  We don’t have time to wait for state or federal governments – they have failed us before.  Chicago has the home-rule authority to clean up these plants, and should,” Richart asserts.

Government is beginning to move on the clean-air/climate connection.  Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has already gotten to work, using this day to install photovoltaic cells donated by Chicago-area solar energy firms to the roof of the Governor’s Mansion.   “We must do everything we can to increase our use of solar energy, which will help us protect natural resources and reduce our reliance on traditional energy sources,”  said the Governor.

Back in Chicago CCPC organizers hope that Mayor Daley will want to add a truly monumental contribution to his “green legacy” by supporting and finally signing the Clean Power Ordinance before he leaves office.

“The next mayor of Chicago will ultimately decide whether the city will remain beholden to deadly Model-T-era coal-fired plants or be a national leader in the clean energy future,” maintains energy activist and Huffington blogger Jeff Biggers, who spoke at the Rally.

“Mayor Daley’s support for this Ordinance would be a lasting contribution that would far outlive all the flower planters and trees he is responsible for,” said Angie Viands of Rainforest Action Network Chicago.  “The gift of clean, healthful air would be a priceless parting gift to leave the people of Chicago.”


The CCPC Event: ( 12:30 p.m., Sunday Oct. 10, 2010; Alivio Medical Center, 966 West 21st Street , Pilsen, Chicago)

The CCPC Rally was the largest International Day of Climate Action event in Chicago.

Speakers from the stage included:

  • Jeff Biggers, energy activist, author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek, and Huffington Post writer
  • Jerry Mead-Lucero, PERRO
  • Edyta Sitko, Greenpeace Chicago
  • Dr. Sarah Pressman-Lovinger, Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility Chicago, and  Huffington Post contributor
  • James Gignac, Sierra Club’s Midwest Director of its National Coal Campaign

Photos and video clips from around the US and world will be available at:  http://www.350.org/en/media


The Chicago Clean Power Coalitionhttp://cleanpowerchicago.org/ )  consists of: over 50 environmental, community and business organization in Chicago.  It’s coordinating committee consists of:  Eco-Justice Collaborative, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Greenpeace, **Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Nuclear Energy Information Service, *Pilsen Environmental Rights & Reform Organization , Rainforest Action Network, Chicago, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago,  Sierra Club, Topless America.

Its Mission is to build a clean energy future for Chicago by:

  • Replacing fossil fuel energy with clean, safe and renewable energy sources
  • Promoting energy conservation and efficiency and reduce energy demand in Chicago
  • Promoting green job development centered on conservation, efficiency and clean energy technologies
  • Securing an eco-just and equitable clean energy future