Green SanctuaryEarth Day will soon be upon us and the Green Sanctuary Committee thought we should provide a short update on projects currently being worked on. The goal is to submit our action plan report to the UUA at the end of the summer for review. To be certified as a Green Sanctuary, a congregation must complete 12 projects in four areas usually over the span of two years. This is the second year of implementation.

  1. Worship
  2. Religious Education for adults and children
  3. Environmental Justice
  4. Sustainable Living

Check out the Green Sanctuary Kiosk for the projects in 2012-2013. Right now we are working on  multiple tasks, however three major tasks:

Bottled Water Awareness – “Tap Water = People’s Water”:

There are perfectly legitimate reasons for buying bottled water on occasion however we thought that as part of our action plan we would try to raise more awareness of their impact and encourage people to commit to using tap water and reusable bottles. We will be offering stickers on Earth Day that members can put on their reusable water bottles as a reminder to use tap water. These stickers can also help start a conversation with other people about the importance of using tap water when possible.

People’s Nature Trail:

We started last year with making sure the trail through the woods was clear of brush to making walking its entire length easier. More work on the trail will be done this year. New signs, a map and opportunities for contemplation along the trail. How about a few fairy homes or toad huts along the way for a little whimsical fun? If you are interested in helping with this please stay tuned! A request for help will soon be coming out.

Environmental Justice Project:

Fish Consumption Awareness This project is a long-term project. As most of you already know the Kalamazoo River is contaminated with PCBs from just upstream of Kalamazoo all the way to Lake Michigan from historical paper mill waste. It is what is called an Area of Concern (AOC) and also a Superfund Site. The PCBs end up in fish particularly bottom feeding fish and make them essentially unsafe to eat. There are people that do fish the river and eat the fish. The signs are old at the public access sites, information is difficult to find on what to eat and what not to eat and the people fishing typically do not speak/read English. Discussions have just begun with State agencies and the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council (the AOC Public Advisory Council) to identify what resources are already available and what educational information is currently being worked on at the state level. The goal is to coordinate and identify specific needs to be effective at getting the word out to people who are eating the fish to help reduce their health risks. The MI Dept of Community Health has grant money to help with outreach materials and programs and the Watershed Council is also applying for a small grant to assist in the community aspect. Much of this work will begin.

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