Earth Justice Team
You Can Reduce Your Use: From the Earth Justice Team
From Silke Springorum on behalf of the Earth Justice Team
Happy New Year from the Earth Justice Team! We are excited to be part of our Social Justice Coalition and to explore new ways of working together throughout the congregation on the intertwined social and environmental justice issues. One excellent way to do that is to delve into the UUA Common Read together: Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Environment, edited by Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Jennifer Nordstrom (Skinner House Books, 2018). From the book’s blurb: “At a time when racial justice, environmental justice, and economic justice are seen as issues competing for time, attention, and resources, Justice on Earth explores the ways in which the three are intertwined. Those on the margins are invariably those most affected by climate disaster and environmental toxins. The book asks us to recognize that our faith calls us to long-haul work for justice for our human kin, for the Earth and for all life. It invites us to look at our current challenges through a variety of different perspectives, offers tools to equip us for sustained engagement, and proposes multiple pathways for follow-up action.” Justice on Earth is available at inSpirit:UU Book and Gift Shop as well as at a discounted price in our UU Market Place! We are planning to use the UUA discussion guides for congregations, offering both a single session on Tuesday, January 15th at 7:30 pm and a three-session format starting for a more in-depth conversation on Tuesdays, February 12th, March 12th, and April 9th at 7:30 pm. Please, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To give you a flavor and pique your interest we will be sharing short summaries of the chapters in the Gazette moving forward. Pamela Sparr, in her chapter on Transforming Unitarian Universalist Culture: Stepping Out of Our Silos and Selves, challenges us deeply. “If we are to be all that we can be collectively at this moment, and joyfully and effectively contribute to what some authors call “The Great Turning,” we must transform our denominational culture in at least five ways: 1. offer a bolder prophetic imagination, 2. develop the courage and capacity to talk religiously, 3. get out of our silos and off the farm, 4. engage in radical relationship building, [and] 5. become more countercultural”(Justice on Earth, pg. 79). Are you ready to be challenged and engage in the dialogue? Join us on Tuesday, January 15th at 7:30 pm.
For more information, please contact Silke at email@example.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:
- Rethinking our spiritual beliefs and practices in connection with our environmental consciousness as individuals and as a congregation.
- Investigating and, where necessary, changing the ways we live our lives in the light of evident environmental issues, as individuals and as a congregation.
- 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, firstname.lastname@example.org