Thursday, January 24, 2013


For someone who loves learning and is always asking questions, I sometimes feel that serendipity can't be avoided in a city like Chicago.  Not only do opportunities abound, but they are abundantly diverse in focus and perspective.  A perfect illustration occurred just this past week.

After touring a uniquely urban-situated convent mentioned to me by my City Director, I had planned to take it easy at a coffee shop and achieve some satisfying progress in the book that was then absorbing the vast majority of my spare time.  Unexpectedly, however, my friend - who is on the steering committee for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action - called me up.  Initially, I thought he was calling in regards to the book club that had occupied most of our recent conversations.  It turned out, however, that Chicago was offering up yet another perk to its student-minded residents: Bill McKibben's Do the Math national tour was stopping in Chicago that night, not more than 15 minutes away from where I was. 

Now, I hadn't exactly heard of Bill McKibben, and I didn't exactly know anything of his Do the Math tour, but I proceeded to sign up without hesitation.  After all, since my friend had already gotten our tickets, I would be able to attend for free.  As I now know, Bill McKibben is one of the biggest names in the world of climate change and environmental politics, and his Do the Math tour pulls in not so much 'audiences,' as it does crowds passionately rallying behind a cause sincerely and zealously fought for.

So, naturally, serendipity struck again.  Not only was I immersed in a jam-packed and emotionally-charged auditorium full of environmental 'insiders' (a fascinating experience for an outsider like me), and not only do I now have even more incredibly substantive reasons to add to the already long list of convictions as to why I commute by bicycle, but I was also interviewed by This American Life - one of Chicago's most beloved radio shows!  On this last point, I suppose sometimes there are perks to uniquely being the only environmental amateur among a crowd of experts - the reporter from This American Life specifically wanted to hear from someone in just my position.

Wait a second - so what got me interviewed by This American Life wasn't my qualifications or education or knowledge of climate change?  Right- it was due to nothing more than my proclivity to immerse myself in a context wherein I would be predisposed to learn, to gain exposure to new perspectives and knowledge simply by virtue of my own ignorance on the topic at hand.  What is more, this is something that I have witnessed serving me well over and over again since moving to Chicago: an embrace of my own finitude, that is, the narrowness of own my culturally ingrained perspective or background, leading to an opening of doors, an establishing of connections, and a serendipity that is coming to be regarded as expected.

- Scott, CSM Chicago Apprentice

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

TSA Will Help Clothe Homeless Veterans

The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that requires the TSA to donate all unclaimed clothing to the Department of  Veterans Affairs (VA) and other local organizations to distribute items to the homeless community.

Interesting! What do you think about this new bill?

Learn how YOU can serve the homeless community through CSM!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Drink Water, Give Water.

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Drink water, give water.  It sounds basic, but that's how T. J. Foltz's business model works for the lofty, but not unattainable, goal of providing clean drinking water for everyone in the world.  The idea is simple: buy bottled water from the Philadelphia-based organization, Humankind Water, and all of the profits go to building wells and providing clean drinking water in parts of the world where there currently is none.

With the "lack of clean water kill[ing] more than all forms of violence in the world, including war" (, it's difficult to not to want to join right in and help.  Fortunately, it's not hard to do!  Humankind Water recently won Wal-Mart's Get on the Shelf contest, and now their water is sold at  Wal-Mart stores across the country.  At the cost of a dollar a bottle to provide drinking water to one person for a year, it's kind of hard to beat.

Humankind Water is challenging people: buy 7 bottles and give them to seven friends. Make sure at least one person does the same.  Multiplication is the key to creating clean water!

If you'd like to hear more about Humankind Water's model, watch some cool videos or find a Wal-Mart near you, check out their website here:

To read more about Foltz, check out this article published by the Huffington Post.

- Nicole Engelhardt, CSM Philadelphia Associate Director

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Linking Churches and Cities

It's a beautiful thing when churches and the cities where they reside learn to partner in healthy ways together. I was encouraged to learn how an interesting partnership between local churches and the city of Portland, OR was formed. 

Birthed from a desire to help their ailing city, local churches partnered together and approached the mayor to find the issues most pertinent to Portland. Churches then vowed to devote their summers to service in those areas identified by the mayor, with incredible results. In their first summer, they were able to utilize over 25,000 volunteers eager to help in their beloved city. This partnership, now in their third year is stronger than ever and serves as a great reminder of what can happen when cities and their faith communities comes together.

- Chris Nazareth, CSM Boston City Director

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