Earth Justice Team

You Can Reduce Your Use: From the Earth Justice Team
From Paul Nick on behalf of the Earth Justice Team

Justice on Earth: Ecotheology

The Environmental Just Team has been studying the book “Justice on Earth”, a compilation of diverse perspectives on the intersectionality of race, class, and the environment.  One section explores how a dialog between ecotheology and UU theologies could inspire new insights within our faith tradition.  For example, a prevalent theme in ecotheology is the radical interdependence of all existence and the accompanying call to see humans as embedded in a complex web of relationships with other organisms that have intrinsic value, a view that aligns well with the UU 7th principle.  Ecotheology views God as arising within the universe and unfolding along with it, a view consistent with a rising comfort with the use of the word God within the UU community.  The book suggests that UU’s are better able to participate powerfully with multi-faith efforts when UUs draw on God’s language in a way that is inclusive and expansive.

Ecotheologists have been particularly critical of the purely transcendent views of God and demonization of nature found in patriarchal, colonizing systems of power that dominated the world in past centuries.  As James Cone put it “The logic that led to slavery and segregation in the Americas, colonization and apartheid in Africa, and the rules of white supremacy around the world is the same one that leads to exploitation of animals and the ravaging of nature. (pg. 26)”With respect to good and evil, ecotheologians such as Ruther view “good” in terms of “limits”, “a balancing of our own life drive with the life drives of others in which we are in community, so that the whole remains in life-sustaining harmony” (pg. 31).

A key theme in Ecotheology is a notion of beauty that is intertwined closely with justice, a view that moves away from objectifying notions of beauty.  As UU theologian Alison Downie put it, “the intertwined devastation of the earth and dehumanizing living conditions for the most vulnerable people, often women, children and peoples of color, are morally and aesthetically ugly (pg. 33).”

We invite you to read “Justice on Earth” with us at our next meeting on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 7:30 PM in the Rotunda. For more information, please reach out to Silke at silkespr7@gmail.com.

For more information, please contact Silke at silkespr7@gmail.com.


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