Earth Justice Team

You Can Reduce Your Use: From the Earth Justice Team

From Silke Springorum and Paul Nick on behalf of the Earth Justice Team

Our Green Sanctuary Committee has changed its name to Earth Justice Team.

In the spirit of congregational transformation and growth marked by the arrival of our new Senior Co-Ministers, the Green Sanctuary Committee launched a deliberative process to discern its work for the coming years. As part of the process, it became clear to the group that a new name was needed that resonates more deeply with its members and aligns more directly with the demands of justice in these times.   After a great deal of discussion, the group has chosen “Earth Justice Team” as its new name.  Each word of the new name has special significance for the team.  The eco-philosopher Thomas Berry once wrote, “The Universe is a community of subjects, not a collection of objects.”   “Earth,” with a capital “E,” grants subjectivity to the Earth and acknowledges her as a living being, our mother.  “Justice” not only directly connects the group to the overall justice work of the congregation, but acknowledges that environment justice issues (from climate justice to the asthma-causing trash incinerator in Newark) are intertwined with and ultimately inseparable from all other social justice issues.  “Team” suggests a level of roll-up-your-sleeves active engagement and openness not just to members of the core team but open to every member and friend of the congregation which the group found very appealing.   The Earth Justice Team looks forward to working with the congregation to advance our collective justice work.


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 Earth Justice Team 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 EJT 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 Earth Justice Team.

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 Earth Justice Team 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 EJT 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