On May 14, 2007, we submitted our 19-page application for Green Sanctuary Accreditation
(PDF), which we hope will be approved by a congregational vote at our June 3, 2007 annual meeting, and then by the UU Ministry for Earth.
The goals of the Green Sanctuary effort are:
- To build awareness of societal environmental issues among UUs.
- To build awareness of and rectify environmental injustices.
- To generate commitment for personal lifestyle changes.
- To motivate UUs to community action on environmental issues.
- To build a connection between spiritual practice and environmental consciousness.
To address these goals, we worked on 12 action projects for the past year. These resulted in energy savings and greater education of the community and our Fellowship on the importance of energy conservation, and the need to address global warming and other environmental concerns. These action projects covered all areas of congregational life, including Worship and Celebration, Religious Education, Social Justice, and Sustainable Living.
Our 12 completed projects included the following:
Project 1: Arranged for 6 "green" sermons during the year.
Project 2: Researched and prepared a Service on Water Justice.
Project 3: Researched and prepared a service presentation on Renewable Energy Certificates/Carbon Offsets.
Project 4: Added to our Fellowship library nearly 40 books on environmental issues.
Project 5: Planned and carried out a Compact Fluorescent Light donation program with London Community Council - we donated 1,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs, with accompanying information in English and Spanish, to this community.
Project 6: Participated in California Interfaith Power & Light, including a showing on "An Inconvenient Truth."
Project 7: Environmental investing - Opened a "Eco-Max" CD with Shorebank Pacific.
Project 8: Developed a renewable energy/carbon offset program, contributed through Fellowship funds and encouraging members to participate in carbon offsets with Carbonfund.org.
Project 9: Presented a program for the congregation on the value/importance of CFLs, then get pledges - we successfully asked 80% of congregation to replace three most used traditional lights with Compact Fluorescent Lights.
Project 10: Asked congregation to have three family & friends replace three most used lights with CFLs as part of their 2007 Earth Day Pledge.
Project 11: Raised $874 to replace the Friends Meeting House refrigerator/freezer with an ENERGY STAR unit. Our successful rummage sale was enjoyed by all!
Project 12: Transition a change to recycled paper products and green cleaning products.
All this effort came about by the individual contributions of a large number of our Fellowship's members and friends - a vast majority of our Fellowship contributed in one way or another during the past year. We owe our thanks to all these members.
In addition, we undertook several other "green" activities throughout the past year.
These include the following:
1. Additional Activity 1: Summer 2006 discussion series on Thoreau as Spiritual Guide
2. Additional Activity 2: Prepared comments on the UU Statement of Conscience on Global Warming.
3. Additional Activity 3L Advocated Clean Water in School Health Plans by writing to school districts in Tulare County.
4. Additional Activity 4: Held a Sustainable Living Discussion Cours with 13 participants.
5. Additional Activity 5: Film and Environmental Education Programs, included several environmental films including "Suzuki Speaks."
6. Additional Activity 6: Vegetarian Awareness.
As past President Don Chapin says, "The most important benefit in participating in the Green Sanctuary program was that it brought home to us the importance of environmentalism as a tenet requiring specific changed behavior. It is not enough to be opinionated about environmental issues; we must also 'walk the talk.' Our members are converting to CFLs, using non toxic household cleaners, purchasing hybrid cars, changing their buying habits, changing their driving habits, reducing their home energy usage - to name a few."
Also, an important benefit for us was the community-building and infrastructure improvements working on the Green Sanctuary program gave us. By having specific goals and timelines, we worked together as a community more than ever before, deepening and strengthening relationships in the congregation in the process.
Because our Green Sanctuary effort has been such an inspiration, we hope it will continue to be a crucial part of our Fellowship's life in the coming years.