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Costs of a Mainstream Lifestyle

Costs of a Mainstream Lifestyle

The Hidden Costs of a Mainstream Lifestyle And … You Thought it was Inexpensive Economic justice begins at home and is reflected in many of our personal decisions and public policies.  In this workshop we take a look at an example of one of our most fundamental needs and the hidden costs to society that we won’t see listed in our monthly bills. Coal continues to generate a significant amount of the electricity used by Illinois residents.  In our modern world of electric cars, convenience appliances and instant communication, clean, reliable and inexpensive electricity is our everyday lifeline to a high functioning society.  Yet, this longstanding source of cheap energy has a dark side that is emblematic of the difficult choices ahead for energy consumers who are of faith and conscience.

Through a multi-media presentation and audience participation, this fast-paced workshop will engage attendees in the process of identifying the externalized and surprising costs of a convenient lifestyle.  Participants will learn of the far reaching economic connections that our everyday decisions can have on social and eco-justice, understand their own role in the impact chain, and be able to ask key questions that will help them become advocates for more just public policies.

Register today and get discounted rates (good through June 5)
Read more detailed description of workshop.

About SCUPE’s 2014 Urban Ministry Congress

The 2014 SCUPE Urban Ministry Congress will be an exciting conference with top notch speakers, artists, and workshops all focused on one of the most important topics of our time:  Economic Justice.  This conference which crosses multiple disciplines places SCUPE along with Interfaith Worker Justice at the center of the global economic justice conversation and continues to demonstrate our leadership in the field of Urban Ministry and Social Justice. 

We are planning by our leadership and the over design of the Congress to model partnership, cooperation, and innovative approaches to contemporary urban challenges facing our cities here at home and abroad.  It is our goal to empower leaders by giving them the theological grounding for action, training them in the tools of organizing, and inspiring them to think systemically about the economic justice issues in their communities and networks.

This year’s conference will take place at:

DePaul University, Student Center
2250 N. Sheffield Chicago, IL 60614
June 23, at 7 pm, through June 26, at noon

(note The overlapping IWJ and SCUPE conferences will take place at DePaul from Monday evening, June 23rdthrough Tuesday afternoon, June 24th.)

An Artist’s View of Today’s Realities

An Artist’s View of Today’s Realities

These 29 drawings by Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski were featured recently by Distractify and forwarded to us by a friend. They will provoke thought and discussion about the realties of our world today.

This artist has worked in satirical illustration since 2004, and specializes in thought-provoking images that make his audience question their everyday lives. His subjects deal with everything from social media to politics to poverty, and all have a very distinct, powerful message.

Even if you don’t agree with some of these messages, it’s hard not to appreciate the creativity involved!

Here are a few of our favorites:




Click here for all 29 images.

And be sure to check out Pawel Kuczynski’s website here! Pawel has been awarded more than 100 prizes and distinctions. This includes the “Eryk” * prize from Association of Polish Cartoonists, which he won in 2005, as well as a record number of awards in international competitions.

How to Build Effective Resistance

How to Build Effective Resistance

Facing the Realities of Climate Change and Limitless Consumption
In this interview, journalist Chris Hedges says we are emulating all of the mistakes complex societies have made over 5,000 years or more of civilization.  But this time, when our civilization goes down the entire planet is going to go down with us.

We no longer can act as though we can have everything we want, when climate change, depletion of resources, pollution, over population, deforestation and more pose real limits and threats to our existence.

The folly of continuing to allow the fossil fuel industry to determine our relationship to the ecosystem; along with the folly of embracing an ideology of limitless expansion and consumption will certainly lead to our demise.  It is quite clear what the consequences of “staying the course” will be.  Despite that clarity, we can’t find a way to wrest ourselves from the systems and benefits that those of us in the wealthy industrialized world experience.

In today’s world, wrought by social, economic and environmental degradation and injustices, rebellion and resistance is a moral imperative. Our only hope is to build mass movements of descent.  The failure to carry out mass acts of civil disobedience will only ensure that we remain hostages to corporate power.

We need to wrest power back from the rapacious corporate elite that, if left unchallenged, literally will kill us. But, says, Hedges, before we can build effective resistance, we must first grasp our reality.  And as long as we remain complacent by hopes and expectations that technology, market forces, or charismatic leaders will save us from this grave reality, we will not be able to see how dire and catastrophic our current situation is.

To bring about true change, we must first face our current reality and then radically reconfigure our relationship to each other and our ecosystem.

You can access the full transcript of this interview by Paul Jay and the entire 7-part interview by visiting

Seeking a Consumer Culture Revolution

Seeking a Consumer Culture Revolution

In this culture, says the book-length report, people find meaning and contentment in what they consume, but this cultural orientation has had huge implications for society and the planet. The average U.S. citizens, for instance, consumes more each day, in terms of mass, than they weigh. If everyone lived like this, the Earth could only sustain 1.4 billion people.

Cross Posting 2010 Article
Seeking a Consumer Culture Revolution
Matthew Berger

WASHINGTON, Jan 12 2010 (IPS) – The last 50 years have seen an unprecedented and unsustainable spike in consumption, driven by a culture of consumerism that has emerged over that period, says a report released Tuesday by the Worldwatch Institute.

This consumerist culture is the elephant in the room when it comes to solving the big environmental issues of today, the report says, and those issues cannot be fully solved until a transition to a more sustainable culture is begun.

“State of the World 2010″, subtitled “Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability”, tries to chart a path away from what Worldwatch president Christopher Flavin calls “the consumer culture that has taken hold probably first in the U.S. and now in country after country over the past century, so that we can now talk about a global consumerist culture that has become a powerful force around the world.”

In this culture, says the book-length report, people find meaning and contentment in what they consume, but this cultural orientation has had huge implications for society and the planet. The average U.S. citizens, for instance, consumes more each day, in terms of mass, than they weigh. If everyone lived like this, the Earth could only sustain 1.4 billion people.

Flavin admits consumerism is not the only factor driving environmental degradation but says it is one of the key root causes on which other factors are built – and, as a cultural framework, it is expanding.

“In India and China, for instance, the consumer culture of the U.S. and Western Europe is not only being replicated but being replicated on a much vaster scale,” Flavin says.

Consumption has risen sixfold since 1960, the report says, citing World Bank statistics. Even taking the rising global population into account, this amounts to a tripling of consumption expenditures per person over this time. This has led to similar increases in the amount of resources used – a sixfold increase in metals extracted from the earth, eightfold in oil consumption and 14-fold in natural gas consumption.

“In total, 60 billion tons of resources are now extracted annually – about 50 percent more than just 30 years ago,” the report says.

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A Plentitude Economy

A Plentitude Economy

We are inundated with news about our faltering economy, declining resources, climate change, and environmental degradation associated with our ever-increasing consumer society. But little is said in the media about positive responses to these challenges.  What would it take to build communities that are capable of bouncing back from adverse situations? How might they actively prepare for economic, social and environmental change?

This fun animation provides a vision of what a post-consumer society could look like, with people working fewer hours and pursuing re-skilling, homesteading, and small-scale enterprises that can help reduce the overall size and impact of today’s consumer economy. It is narrated by economist and best-selling author Juliet Schor.

See Transition Towns and Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago for more.

EcoJustice: Vision for a Sustainable City

EcoJustice: Vision for a Sustainable City


A Vision for a Sustainable City

October 12-13, 19-20 , 26-27 Fridays 1-9 pm, Saturdays 9am-5pm
Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education, Chicago

This class will be taught by:
Clinton Stockwell, Executive Director, Chicago Semester
Pam and Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative

This course will develop a holistic vision for a sustainable city as an outworking of the concept of shalom, a just peace.  It will evaluate the relevance of three components of sustainable community development: the interrelationship of economics, environment and equity (or social justice).  Participants will explore the course topics via readings, panel discussions and site visits.  They will have the option of exploring a key issue such as energy policy, food production, environmental justice or pollution.  Central to the course is the question, “What does it mean to be a sustainable urban community?”

We will read and explore workable solutions to today’s environmental challenges and consider alternative visions for cities as sustainable habitats.  We will empower participants with the skills, understanding and strategies that they can implement in their own communities.

This is a course that combines readings and discussions in the classroom with an experiential engagement with the city in context.  The course is critically relevant in that its themes are about the future and the well-being of the planet and the future of human social constructions (cities) that depend on it.

If you are interested in seeking to understand and create hopeful options for a fragile planet and a vulnerable earth community, contact SCUPE to learn more and to register!

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

Our Changing Planet – In Real Time

Our Changing Planet – In Real Time

It’s hard to understand how quickly our earth is changing.  This World Clock by provides an amazing look at the intersection of our energy use, world population trends, food production and the impact of these activities on our environment.

These are uncertain times, for sure.  Our future depends on creating and living into systems that nurture and restore life.  This means living differently, changing more than our light bulbs.  It means changing our economies that depend on growth, consumption and exploitation of resources and people.  It means living with less.  It means taking care of and restoring ecological systems that are life-giving. It means taking care of all people.

All across the globe, people everywhere are beginning to respond to today’s ecological and social crises. Bioneers and the Transition Towns movement are a few examples where people are working to bring about positive change. And that is hopeful!  Change doesn’t come easily, but it can happen quickly when there is perceived need.  So please share this world clock as a means for communicating the ecological and social impacts our global population and global economies are placing on our planet.  But also talk about solutions.  Real solutions that lessen our ecological footprints in our households, our communities and throughout the United States.  Real solutions that work for people – all people – not just generate profit corporations. It can make a difference.