Green Sanctuary

 

You Can Reduce Your Use: From the Green Sanctuary Committee

As summer is here and the rhythm of our lives are changing again, I would like to bring a special book to your attention that might need a bit more space to be taken in and to enable us to ‘see with new eyes’: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (ISBN978-1-57131-335-5). As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest guides. She brings these frameworks of understanding together in original ways, “taking us on a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).  She circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of the wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn again to give in return.

Happy and inspiring reading this eye and heard opening summer companion!

 

If you would like to learn more, please reach out to me at silkespr7@gmail.com.

Sustainably yours,
Silke Springorum
Green Sanctuary Committee


OUR GREEN POLICY:

Please click here for more information on the Green Policy that was passed at our Annual Meeting on May 18, 2014.

WHO WE ARE

The Green Sanctuary program was established by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) to help congregations implement our principle of: 

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Our committee began in 2001 and, with the support of many members of our congregation, completed the necessary work to reach the initial accreditation as a GS in July 2010.  In order to maintain our standing we must continue to address six areas of congregational life.  Here are some of the activities we have accomplished along with those on our “to do” list:

1. Worship and Celebration – We have held services and celebrated several February Focus months around environmental issues and continue to celebrate the eight solar holidays in a small-group setting.  We will continue to dedicate at least one Sunday worship per year to the environment/sustainability (E/S) issues.  The ministers and worship committee have incorporated environmental prayers, meditations, or readings and encourage this to be continued.

2. Religious Education – We dedicated four of our last focus months to environmental issues, including Sustainability, Ethical Eating, and Spirituality and Nature, all which will or have had a special curriculum for our young people.  We addressed the availability of solar energy for private homes in New Jersey through an adult RE event.  We plan to have at least one lesson for the young people’s RE program addressing an E/S topic, and preferably more than one lesson on an ongoing basis.  We plan to offer special adult RE events on E/S topics such as a film screenings or speakers.

3. Earth Justice – We participated in an Environmental Justice Tour of the Ironbound section of Newark and helped with the ecological restoration of Clark’s Pond in Bloomfield.  We plan to become more involved with Habitat-for-Humanity Newark in many ways: helping to build the actual building, fund raising, and supporting 1-2 families after they’ve moved in with green home maintenance. We will continue to be involved with the Interfaith Environmental Coalition (IEC) of Greater Montclair, where members of many different houses of worship come together to share ideas and experiences about how to make their members’ and congregation’s lives more sustainable.  The IEC also sponsors an annual special event to showcase sustainability in our wider community, such as the EcoFair and Zero Waste Event.

4.  Sustainable Living.  We conducted two energy audits of our congregational buildings and implemented some of the recommendations (weather stripping, changing lights to CFLSs or LEDs where possible, and acquired a new, energy efficient refrigerator), and we intend to address the remaining recommendations soon including: installing programmable thermostats, upgrading to a more efficient boiler for the Rotunda building, and investigating solar panels.  We have shared information and products to make personal changes for more sustainability, such as offering CFLs, reusable water bottles, #5 plastic recycling, and promoting walk/bike/car-share to Sunday services.  We plan to help the Board of Trustees to establish a congregational policy on “Sustainability,” have a policy on (set-back) temperatures in the winter and summer, green coffee hour, find ways to reduce trash and compost, investigate renewable energy purchasing, buy environmentally friendly paper and cleaning products, and have a designated “Energy Steward” who monitors the congregation’s energy consumption and reports the findings back to the Green Sanctuary Committee.

5. Communication.  We will continue to share information in the Gazette and insert in the bulletin on Sundays and we plan to make information available on our website.

6. Community Connections.  We plan to connect with other groups, such as the Health and Wellness Committee of the Montclair schools, to present the “Climate Showcase” of Montclair, and to get more involved with the position paper about Ethical Eating that the UUA is discussing.

The Green Sanctuary accreditation and re-accreditation process occurs every 3-5 years and has 3 aspects:

  1. Rethinking our spiritual beliefs and practices in connection with our environmental consciousness as individuals and as a congregation.
  2. Investigating and, where necessary, changing the ways we live our lives in the light of evident environmental issues, as individuals and as a congregation.
  3. Looking into many different aspects of environmental sustainability, which can go beyond our usual idea of the environment to include social justice, to name one example.

We also plan to network with other like-minded individuals and groups within the wider community related to these areas to have the best results.

The GS committee would like to invite EVERYONE – young and old – to join us.  Simply attend one of our monthly meetings, usually held in between services, or by being involved with a project!

Contact: Silke Springorum, 973-744-1518, silkespr7@gmail.com