Rachel Lamb and Kaleb Nyquist, two of our leaders at Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, recently participated in the inaugural Interfaith Dialogue and Entrepreneurial Activity (IDEA) Generators Conference in Chicago. The three-day IDEA Generators conference took place over Memorial Day weekend, and participants spent that time ideating, developing, and pitching projects designed to address environmental sustainability through interfaith partnerships.
The event brought together 32 students, professors, and professionals from the United States and beyond to design projects that focused on “creation care,” a shared tenet of both Christianity and Islam. Each team was comprised of Christians and Muslims, men and women, students and professionals — all of whom worked energetically throughout the holiday weekend.
Kurt Berends, President of the Issachar Fund and trustee of The IDEA Fund—the two organizations that sponsored this event—said, “We believe that interfaith dialogue, rooted in meaningful relationships that are geared toward cooperative action on important social issues, is a key strategy in fostering empathy and mitigating global hostility. Where there is empathy and action, there is peace.”
First- and second-place teams received $15,000 and $10,000, respectively, for their project ideas. Ideas included campus recycling projects, energy reduction initiatives in local churches and mosques, and reclaimed land use in distressed urban communities. Each project contained an integrated interfaith component, in which Muslims and Christians learn more about each other’s faith traditions, build relationships, and work together to address an environmental problem.
Participants were enthusiastic about the Chicago event and its impact. Rachel Lamb, National Organizer and Spokesperson for Y.E.C.A., said, “As team advisors on environmental sustainability and campus organizing, Kaleb and I had the opportunity to share from our experiences with Y.E.C.A. and support new innovative projects that capitalized on shared values and bold ingenuity. It was a privilege to be a part of this conference and I look forward to seeing what future related endeavors Y.E.C.A. is able to highlight and support.”
Kaleb Nyquist | Flickr (Issachar Fund)
Kaleb Nyquist, a Steering Committee Member of Y.E.C.A, had the following reflection on the conference and its importance:
In our complicated world, bringing people of different faiths together is necessary for building peace and trust. It seems to me that the dialogue is much more fruitful when we can shift the focus from “respecting our differences” to “working cooperatively towards a common challenge.” Climate change and sustainability stands out today as one of those common challenges, and the IDEA Generators Conference was a great example of what such a shift in focus might look like. I look forward to hearing how the various ideas and relationships generated at the conference inspire the team members as they return to their communities and work to affect the sort of change that manifests God’s love in the world.
Plans are already being made for the next IDEA Generators Conference, which is scheduled to take place in 2017. “This initial IDEA Generators Conference was a resounding success, but we were still able to learn how to enhance future iterations, said Berends. “I’m excited to see what the next one will look like.”