April 15, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 14

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    Rockefeller event will celebrate Earth Day

    By Theresa Carson
    News Office

    If you see two-legged animals and 10-foot-tall people looming on the Midway Sunday, April 25, don’t rush to the nearest ophthalmologist––it’s the University’s first Interfaith Festival for the Earth.

    Beginning at 1 p.m., musicians and storytellers will entertain participants as they peruse environmental exhibits and children make crafts from recycled materials. At 2 p.m., young people dressed in animal costumes and others carrying 10-foot-high puppets will parade down the Midway while creation stories are told over a loudspeaker. Erica Brown, Intern for Environmental Outreach at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, an event sponsor, said the puppets will illustrate the creation stories. “Humanity having dominion over the earth and the animals and the plants is not a right or a privilege; it’s a responsibility,” said Brown, a third-year Master of Divinity student at the University.

    Samuel Speers, Associate Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, said the festival will be celebratory, but there is also a serious side to the event. “We will identify, in the process of organizing the festival, a partnership of groups, congregations and ministries who want to work together for environmental justice,” he said.

    Environmental issues are at the core of living together, Speers said, citing toxic waste, increased cases of asthma and mass transportation as examples of issues that need to be discussed.

    “Right now, in many ways, we operate primarily out of economic guidelines,” Speers said. He believes religious guidelines can deepen the dialogue.

    “Religious traditions all have different ways of understanding creation, created order, created life. Within those stories are vast resources––rich resources––for thinking creatively but also thickly, if you will. It’s a kind of depth dimension to the world-view that an understanding of those stories brings to the conversation about environmental issues,” he said.

    “I tend to think of spirituality as the content of life fully lived. It (environmentalism) is really about finding ways of living together that are sustainable and meaningful, that address the realities of our lives together,” Speers said. “Part of the goal of the partnership is to say these are long-term issues, and they require long-term partnerships.”

    The weekend prior to the event, professional puppeteer Jay Mead will give instruction in making the large puppets and masks. The workshop will be free and open to the public. It will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, and will continue Sunday, April 18, at 10 a.m. in Cobb Hall, 5811 S. Ellis Ave.

    The festival on April 25 will take place across from Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. Festivities will conclude at 4 p.m.

    The events are sponsored by Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University Theater, the University Environmental Center, the Eco-Justice Group of the Divinity School, the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) for Eco-Justice, ACTS Urban Clinical Pastoral Education, Hyde Park-Kenwood Interfaith Council, Hyde Park Union Church, United Church of Hyde Park and University Church.

    For more information and to register for the workshop, call Lorraine Brochu at (773) 702-7059 or write to lcbrochu@midway.uchicago.edu.