Coming Full Circle

Yesterday, Governor Pat Quinn signed Environmental Justice Bill, SB2193. Veronica Kyle, Congregational Outreach Coordinator for Faith in Place, spoke at the event.

My name is Veronica Kyle. I am the Congregational Outreach Coordinator for Faith in Place, an Illinois-based environmental organization that gives people of faith the tools to become better stewards of the earth.

Presently, we have over 700 congregations and religious institutions that partner with us on a wide spectrum of environmental initiatives from urban gardening, forming local green teams, creating programs for children and youth to policy and advocacy.

Today is a full-circle moment for me and I would like briefly to share with you why I am calling it such.

1. I grew up on the far Southside of Chicago in the CHA housing community of Altgeld Gardens. Early this year we lost who many of us refer to as the “Mother of the Environmental Justice Movement” in the country, Mrs. Hazel Johnson. Mrs. Johnson spent decades advocating for families like mine who were direct victims of environmental injustices. She took her fight all the way to the White House and around the globe. And because of her, many of us are here on this day.

2. I am a member of the United Church of Christ, the denomination that wrote the 1987 Landmark report on toxic waste and waste that helped to launch the Environmental Justice movement in the country.

As a person of faith, I have had the fortune to work and live in many states as well as to serve for over a decade in the Caribbean and Southern Africa as a development officer working for the marginalized. I’ve seen the ripple effects of Environmental Justice.

And now I am back in my home state of Illinois to bear witness to this official signing of the Environmental Justice Act. I truly have come full circle.

I am proud of my state. Thank you, Senator Toi Hutchinson, Representative Will Davis and Governor Quinn for your commitment to seeing that the people of Illinois regardless of race, national origin, age or income be treated and regarded as equals as we work to heal the ecological divide.

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