Darst Center to Host Workshop on Living Simply

By Casey Cora on February 27, 2013 6:27am 

 John Bambrick, a founder of the White Rose Catholic Worker home, tends to produce in a garden outside the group's former home on the North Side.
John Bambrick, a founder of the White Rose Catholic Worker home, tends to produce in a garden outside the group's former home on the North Side.
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Flickr/Marquette University

CHICAGO — “Live simply so that others may simply live” is one of those wrongly attributed bromides that ends up on bumper stickers and T-shirts.

Does that make it any less true?

John Bambrick doesn’t think so.

The 34-year-old youth minister and activist will discuss the benefits of simple living in a free workshop at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Bridgeport’s Br. David Darst Center for Justice and Peace, Spirituality and Education, 2834 S. Normal Ave.

But don't expect tips about shutting off your smartphone before bed and shopping at farmers markets. Hambrick said the talk will be about "voluntary poverty and voluntary simplicity."

“For about three years we’ve been doing experiments in simplicity,” he said of White Rose, just one of the city’s three Catholic Worker homes and part of a grassroots movement that began in the 1930s with a newspaper dedicated to highlighting social justice issues.

The group has moved to a Little Village two-flat — no phone, no Internet — after spending three years in Rogers Park.

Their simplicity experiments include Sunday “electricity fasts,” backyard gardening and community candlelight dinners. Recently, they've started farming on a donated plot in south suburban Monee.

Hambrick said he and others living at the White Rose home will share some of the philosophy of their lifestyle and of America's "living relationship with the poor" at Wednesday's talk.

"I’m sure we’ll also touch on climate change and the environmental crisis, destruction and pollution," he said. 

Lindsey Peletier, the Darst Center's engagement coordinator, said the organization is primarily known for "urban plunges" — taking suburban and rural high school and college kids and showing them around homeless shelters, soup kitchens and other social agencies throughout the city.

But this event, she said, aims to expand the group's mission and to get the Bridgeport community involved.

"We feel like simplicity is something a person can really incorporate into their lives," she said. "Not everybody has to give up their cars and cell phones. There are way to make it easier."

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