By Cindy Shepherd
On Oct. 29, during the Illinois legislature’s “Veto Session,” Faith in Place and Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition will bring citizen lobbyists to Springfield from all over the state. These concerned citizens will talk with legislators and petition the governor for clean energy policy in Illinois. There are several energy initiatives pending at the Statehouse and, along with partner organizations, Faith in Place wants to insure that the legislation that moves ahead provides equitable economic and health benefits across Illinois, especially those communities that have suffered disproportionate environmental losses. Free bus transportation from the Peoria area is available.
“Equity is important,” says Faith in Place Action Fund Director, Rev. Scott Onque. “Studies show that people of color suffer from air pollution at a rate far higher than whites. It is important that people who live in communities of color be heard, and Faith in Place is one environmental organization that amplifies those voices.”
As an example, Outreach Director for Lake County, Celeste Flores, has been very active in the fight to protect communities north of Chicago from plants that sterilize medical equipment with ethylene oxide and release the toxic, cancer-causing gas into the air. A similar plant was recently shut down in the more affluent community of Willowbrook. But the two in Lake County remain in operation.
Flores has organized petition drives, brought citizens to meet with political leaders, appeared at press conferences and traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify before a congressional committee requesting that the EPA protect her community from this threat.
The scale of the environmental challenges facing the world is daunting. Faith in Place offers connection, education and advocacy which encourages people to make hope filled, impactful changes in their homes, their houses of worship and as engaged citizens.