A Green Sanctuary is a Congregation that...
- Has received official recognition for completing the Green Sanctuary Program.
- Lives out its commitment to the Earth by creating sustainable lifestyles for its members as individuals and as a faith community.
- Is committed towards creating a religious community that has a fundamental, bottom-line, commitment to living in harmony with the Earth.
This brief description is an excerpt from information on the Unitarian Universalist Association website.
The Green Sanctuary Program asks a church to engage in and report on 12 actions organized under four areas of church life:
- Worship and Celebration
- Religious Education
- Environmental Justice
- Sustainable Living
OUUC completed its projects and submitted its application for Green Sanctuary Congregation accreditation in January 2011. You can read the detailed application here:
What has the Green Sanctuary Committee accomplished?
- In 2003, eight families donated thirteen bicycles to a fundraising “Bike Exchange.” We raised $255 to fund bike racks and other environmentally friendly transportation improvements. The unsold bikes were donated to the Out of the Woods Program, for their clients’ use.
- We then purchased and installed our elegant bike rack (with the strong support of both Buildings and Grounds and the Aesthetics Committees) and installing two new ramps in the parking row on the south side of the building. Buildings and grounds then contributed a roof over our bike rack, providing shelter for our pedaled transports.
- In 2008, a carpool system was devised to let all OUUC households know who their “OUUC neighbors” are, to facilitate ridesharing. The addresses of all households in the congregational directory have been mapped, and coded. Each household is sent an e-mail or postcard giving them the names and phone numbers of the four OUUC households nearest to theirs. This information is updated annually.
- Additionally, a carpool matrix was developed for the residents of Panorama City, a retirement community in nearby Lacey. Drivers and back-up drivers are available for residents attending both Sunday services. Congregants who live near Panorama City who are available to drive to evening OUUC events have also been identified for Panorama residents.
- The number of positive responses to the annual “OUUC neighbors” updates has grown each year. Several people reported on carpools that they had formed in response to the message. One unexpected result was a group of choristers who said that they got to choir practice more regularly because they had a commitment to their carpool.
- We are planning a “Carfree Sunday” for May 2011.
In Waste Management:
- There are waste and paper recycling receptacles in each room of the church building.
- There are garbage and mixed recycling receptacles in the church kitchen.
- There are organics waste receptacles in the kitchen and in the rest rooms. These are for paper towels, food waste, and food contaminated papers.
- There is a brochure in the foyer explaining waste management practices at OUUC.
- Recycled paper is used in the church office.
In Global Warming:
- The OUUC Green Sanctuary Committee presented a four month program on Global Warming for the congregation and the community in 2005.
- At its Earth Day Service, 2005, the committee introduced “The Story of Carbon Man” (download pdf) and “A Global Warming Responsive Reading” (download pdf).
- The Committee joined with other faith local communities to present a public forum on the topic in 2006.
- In March 2009, the OUUC Board of Trustees became a partner in the Cool Thurston Campaign (coolthurstoncampaign.ning.com), with the Green Sanctuary Committee taking contact responsibilities.
In October 2010 we co-sponsored a Sunday afternoon Energy Fair which provided participants with useful household energy conservation information and an opportunity to build inexpensive storm window inserts.
Fall and winter, 2010 – 2011 we have hosted a series of Window Insert Workshops, providing opportunities for low income households to build storm window inserts with materials provided by a City of Olympia grant.
In Controlling Invasive Species:
- The Green Sanctuary committee sponsors several “Ivy pulling Parties” per year. When we started early in the 21st century, the OUUC properties featured many trees festooned with English ivy, occasional Scotch broom, and many holly seedlings as well as a few holly trees.
- The holly and Scotch broom have been totally removed and the ivy has been removed from all trees. There is still a lot of ivy on the floor of our forest, and it reaches for the trees each year. Where we have removed ivy, we have been rewarded with the appearance of trillium, yellow violets, may lilies and other native wildflowers in the spring.
- In 2008, Japanese knotweed appeared on the northern border of the OUUC properties. A member of our committee volunteered to be our “knotweed abatement manager”. In the spring of 2010 he contacted the county weed control staff and learned that we would be required to remove the Japanese knotweed that year. We knew that we would need to work with the owners of the adjacent undeveloped property, to have a lasting impact on the shrubs that were growing on the property boundary.
- County staff knew the staff of the development company that owns the adjacent property, and told us that they were responsible and experienced in removing noxious weeds from their property. The county weed staff advised us of our choices for removing the knotweed. We could cut the stalks as close to the ground as possible once every week, May 1 to June 14 and gather and take all stalks to the landfill, because they hit the ground growing – or we could use a chemical treatment. The chosen treatment would need to be repeated as many years as the weed reappeared. When our abatement manager contacted the neighboring property owners about our common problem, they were quite receptive to working with us.
- In his second conversation with them, the property owners offered to treat the knotweed on our property when they treated theirs. They offered the service as a donation to our congregation. Our abatement manager and the Green Sanctuary Committee Chair discussed the options with the OUUC buildings and grounds committee and with the president of the church board. Everyone agreed that accepting the donation of limited chemical treatment by a competent applicator was preferable to a long term commitment of volunteers to repeated hand removal of the noxious weed.
The Green Sanctuary Committee usually meets the first Sunday of each month in the OUUC building at 11:30 a.m. If you would like to get involved in any of these projects, please come to a meeting or contact Joe Joy, Committee chair. A variety of skills and interests are needed, and your long or short-term involvement is welcomed.
(Download a copy of the Application for Green Sanctuary Accreditation.)