About the GSP at BUF
"...the theological, spiritual and ethical aspects of human activities
that affect the health and sustainability of the living earth." ~ Green Sanctuary Program Manual
The earth is our Sanctuary...
Application for Green Sanctuary Accreditation 2009
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Congregational Stewardship Services
25 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
We are a congregation of 307 adult members with 107 children registered in our
Religious Education Program. Of those, 19 are in our Coming of Age program and 21 are in our YRUU group.
Our average Sunday attendance is 190. We have a staff of eleven with three full time positions – Minister,
Administrator and Director of Lifelong Learning. We have also been pleased to include an Intern Minister
this year. Our part time staff includes our Music Director, 2 Keyboardists, one of whom is also our Summer
Worship and Music Director, Assistant Administrator, Building Monitor/Afternoon Sexton, Childcare
Lead/Morning Sexton and our Bookkeeper.
We are well known in the area for our music program and as an active social justice community. Our Lifelong
Learning RE program draws several people to us as do our popular affinity and covenant groups. Every Sunday
as part of worship, we recite our covenant which helps to remind us of our mission and values. It states
"Love is the Spirit of the Fellowship, And Service Gives it Life. Celebrating Our Diversity, and Joined by
a Quest for Truth, We Work for Peace and Honor All Creation. This is Our Covenant."
Our congregation has seen quite a bit of growth for several years but that growth is now constrained by our
building. We are embarking on an ambitious building expansion with the expected groundbreaking on June 1st.
We have been strengthening our programs in anticipation of a swell in membership once expansion is completed
The City of Bellingham is a very active community especially in the area of environmental sustainability.
Many of our members either work, serve on boards or actively volunteer for organizations involved in
sustainability issues. Our goal with adding a Green Sanctuary Program was to explore an even deeper
commitment level to living in harmony with the Earth among our membership. It also serves as another
gateway for potential new members.
||Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF)
||1708 "I" Street Bellingham,
|Green Sanctuary contact
||Linda Fels (& Deb Cruz, co-chairs)
|Minister or Congregation Leader
||Rev. Doug Wadkins
The following resolution was passed on May 3rd, during a Special Congregational
WHERE AS: In 2006 the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship embarked on a journey to live more in
harmony with the Earth;
AND WHERE AS: A Green Sanctuary Program was created, team members recruited and an audit was
conducted to see where on this path the congregation was;
AND WHERE AS: Twelve projects were selected based on the UU Ministry for the Earth program
AND WHERE AS: The program kicked off on Earth Day 2007 and the projects began;
AND WHEREAS: The membership of the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship has reviewed our progress,
agreed that the twelve projects have been successfully completed, is committed to continue on this
journey and is now ready to apply to the UUA for accreditation as a "Green Sanctuary" congregation.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship is authorized to apply for the
Green Sanctuary Accreditation of the UUA.
|Completion of Action Plan
|Worship and Celebration Projects
Project Title: Annual Earth Day Celebration
Project Description and Action: Our plan has been
and continues to be to celebrate and rededicate ourselves every year with an Earth Day celebration. We
celebrate our accomplishments over the past year, kick off new projects for the coming year and add more
depth to ongoing ones.
We officially kicked off our Green Sanctuary Program (GSP) on Sunday April 22, 2007 with an Earth Day
Fair during coffee hour. We educated the congregation on the program, handed out brochures detailing
our 12 planned projects, kicked off our Transportation Challenge (see details under Sustainable Living),
and recruited people for various projects. Several tables were set up around the social hall on the
different issues we planned to cover. Everyone was encouraged to attend the Multi-Faith Earth Day service
to be held later that afternoon in Bellingham. We also kicked off our new Green Sanctuary web site.
In April 2008, we invited Bill Scarvie to deliver his sermon "We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For",
based on David Korten's "The Great Turning." Scarvie believes the principles of Earth Community and the
UU seven principles are so tightly interwoven, we can't affirm and promote one without the other. After
the service we held a potluck lunch, followed by Bill & Robin Scarvie's 3 hour workshop "Change The Story,
Change The Future" also based on "The Great Turning". A dozen people attended the workshop.
This year we celebrated completion of our projects for accreditation with displays showing how much we
accomplished so far, surveying BUF members on the GSP activities they participated in during the last
two years, and of course our vote to apply for accreditation.
Timeline for Completion: Every April
Outcomes: Holding a celebration in April boosts
our energies just when they tend to lag after seven months of high activity. It also gives us a great
venue for feedback before we spend the summer planning next year's projects and reminds members how
far we have come. We tend to always be looking at what needs to be done and forgetting to celebrate
Lead: Green Sanctuary Planning Team (Co-chairs
Linda Fels and Deb Cruz, plus Kay Witter, Karen Hamalainen, Janice Condrin and Heather Higgins-Aanes)
Project Title: Earth-based Summer Service
Project Description and Action: Our summer worship
program revolves around provocative guest speakers on various topics relating to our UU principles. Since
the Summer Worship Director is also a member of our GSP team, we felt this was a perfect fit. Melanie Rieck
outdid herself in planning not one, but two Earth-based services during summer 2007.
On July 22, Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz, otherwise known as the musical group Irthlingz, used music
and drama to educate our congregation about climate change and environmental action. A local couple, David
and Jayme Curley, shared their perspectives on the challenges and rewards of being "green". Then on July 29,
BUF member Dr. Beth Nyblade gave a sermon titled "Behold, There is Magic All Around You: Pagan Practices
and UU Beliefs" on finding meaning and value in our contacts with the natural world. She dealt with the
question "Can pagan metaphors speak to UU's today?"
Timeline for Completion: Summer 2007
Outcomes: We already had a water-oriented
Ingathering Sunday every September and flower communion every June. Now our worship arts staff has taken it
upon themselves to sprinkle more such services throughout the year. This included Rev. Doug Wadkins' Easter
2008 sermon titled "As Old as the Earth" which spoke of the reawakening of the human spirit and the rebirth
we experience in nature. For Easter 2009, Rev. Wadkins spoke on the connection between economic and
environmental justice. Melanie is already working on other Earth-based services for this summer. She also
assisted us in adding Earth honoring UU songs to our Pachamama symposium this March. The Worship Arts staff
has been very open to our suggestions for guest speakers and assisting us in a variety of projects. We feel
worship is one aspect of congregational life where the environment has become so well incorporated, it leaves
us free to concentrate on other projects.
Lead: Lead: Rev. Doug Wadkins, Minister and Melanie
Rieck, Summer Program Director
|Religious Education Projects
(2 required, 1 for children and 1 for adults)
Project Title: Children's RE Unit on Environment
Project Description and Action: Although we have
periodically included environmental topics in our RE program, we have doubled our efforts to include at least
one unit every year. In the last couple of years the emphasis has been on wildlife and endangered species as
children have a natural attachment to animals and their plight. In addition to classroom learning, the children
have raised money for Habitat for Humanity, the Northwest Wildlife and Rehabilitation Center and made dog
biscuits for the Humane Society. In October 2007, the children raised and donated money to purchase a beehive
for a community through Heifer International.
One exciting development was incorporating environmental issues into the YRUU program. In October 2007 Katie
Fleming of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities presented a one-hour workshop on Media and Marketing for
Teens. Using multimedia presentations, discussions, and activities that promote critical thinking skills,
our teen group gained knowledge about the issue of over-consumption, the role they play as consumers, and
the sound decisions they can make regarding their own consumer habits. As a follow-up to the Media and
Marketing presentation, we invited the Young Adult Group (YAG) to the next YRUU gathering to bring ideas
and samples of alternative gift-giving, using recycled or reusable items. We had about 8 young adults show
up, well-armed with ideas and supplies. Some of the ideas included wood-burning on driftwood, fun and fancy
photo frames from assorted left-over bits of this and that, origami boxes from calendar photos, knitting
lessons, and rolled beeswax candles. YAG also compiled a comprehensive list of hip local places to support,
either because of their own dedication to sustainable business practices, reusable products, and the idea
of giving "experiences" rather than material things. Eighteen teens attended the first workshop and 14 attended the second one.
This summer our Director of Lifelong Learning, Crystal Neva, is planning a Peace of Earth Summer Day Camp with
activities almost entirely based around ecological awareness and sustainability. One of the activities will be
to wear a sock on the outside of your hiking boot-- take a walk in the woods then grow your sock (put it in a
pie tin, water it...) over the week and see what sprouts...!
Timeline for Completion: Ongoing
Outcomes: Like the worship services,
environmental issues have been integrated into the regular planning for our Religious Education program.
Lead: Crystal Neva, Director of Lifelong
Project Title: Adult RE Class Series on
Project Description and Action: When we initially
planned this project, we had not decided which topic to cover but we wanted to hold a multiple week class
during Fall 2007. Based on the interest level for climate change as a topic (attendance level at Climate
Change Rally 2007 and Inconvenient Truth presentation – see additional project descriptions below), we
decided on the NW Earth Institute's (NWEI) course titled "Global Warming – Change CO2urse". About 8 people
took this four session self-facilitating class. Feedback on the course was very positive so the following
October, we offered the NWEI course "Menu for the Future" and plan to offer it again in 2009.
Starting in January 2009, GSP co-chair Deb Cruz taught the thirteen week "Rise Up and Call Her Name" course to
15 students. This revised curriculum, originally created by UU Women's Federation teaches earth honoring
practices from various goddess worshipping traditions.
In March 2009, Deb Cruz and Linda Fels hosted and acted as two of the six facilitators for the Pachamama
Alliance symposium titled "Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream". Attended by forty people, this
symposium has the ambitious goal of awaking participants to the idea that an environmentally sustainable,
spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet is possible. This is the theme to be
used for this summer's day camp for the children's RE program.
Timeline for Completion: October 2007 (with
classes being added as requested)
Outcomes: We were a bit nervous about offering
multiple week classes because traditionally they have not been well attended. What we've found is for topics
of high interest, people will set aside the time. We are also quite pleased with the quality of the NWEI
manuals and the self-facilitating aspect of their courses. This January our Simplicity Circles switched to
using the NWEI manuals. We are still evaluating the impact of the Pachamama Alliance symposium but do have
a mail group established of participants for follow up and networking.
Lead: Deb Cruz and Linda Fels, GSP co-chairs
(2 required, 1 long-term that actively promotes justice for those affected by
environmental injustices and creates relationships)
Project Title: Food Security For All
Project Description and Action: This project
began as a simple one time fundraiser for local organic farms. It has since grown into our major ongoing
environmental justice project. We lobbied our Social Justice team to set aside the September 2007 social
justice collection for Sustainable Connection's "Food To Bank On" program. We raised $828. Sustainable
Connections, a non-profit organization of local businesses, has a program that mentors new organic farmers
in the county, connects them with an experienced farmer as a mentor, buys a portion of their produce for
the first few years at wholesale prices and gives the produce to the local food banks. This innovative
program supports local sustainable agriculture and feeds the hungry. Disappearing small farms and farmland
is a major issue in our county. Building demand for locally grown foods is one way we can help support
sustainable agriculture in our community.
We emphasized supporting the local food economy by encouraging the congregation to eat locally during March
2008, which included selling Sustainable Connections' "Where The Locals Go" coupon books (which we have been
selling since May 2007 to the present). In April 2008, we hosted a local farm fair so members could talk with
farmers directly who offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions for locally grown organic
produce. One farm subsidizes CSA subscriptions for low income families making organic produce available to
all. So in February 2009, Growing Washington's Just Food program was our choice for the social justice
collection in February 2009. We raised $725.
A big jump forward occurred in late spring 2008. One of our core team members, Kay Witter made an impassioned
plea to the congregation to re-establish a strong connection with the local food bank, which BUF started in
1971. As a result, in September 2008, BUF took on the Food4Tots program to supply 1000 jars of baby food for
the Bellingham Food Bank. Many of the donations included organic baby food products. The children's RE
program became involved as well, having a special offering to donate baby food items as part of their
program. In addition to the food bank drive and publicizing the Sustainable Connections' Eat Local Week,
we held a "Green Conversation" based on the short video "The True Cost of Food." This event was hosted by
the Simple Sisters (BUF's first Simplicity Circle) and was attended by thirty people. Other events included
several people participating in the Crop Walk for Hunger; a recipe drive for an eating local cookbook; and
registration for the NW Earth Institute's "Menu For The Future" course for October 2008.
We more than met our 1,000 baby food item goal and now have permanent bins for food bank donations in the
foyer and have instituted blessing of the donations as a part of our regular worship services on the 3rd
Sunday of every month. The "Menu For The Future" course was a big hit and will be offered up again this
fall. The social justice collection for the Mother Baby Center that month collected over $1,000 in addition
to our food bank donations. Then in November we held a film night showing "Black Gold" a film on fair trade
coffee issues. Our Sunday table that month focused on why our Social Justice Team sells fair trade coffee and
chocolate during Sunday coffee hour.
Timeline for Completion: Ongoing
Outcomes: The exciting thing about this project
is the way the Green Sanctuary, Social Justice and Lifelong Learning teams have begun to work together on
issues. The congregation tried to establish a project on hunger a few years ago and had a difficult time
building interest and enthusiasm throughout the whole congregation. This Food Security project seems to be
building into a such an ongoing project and planning has begun for next year. We have already signed up to
support the Food4Tots program this coming September. That month the social justice collection will be for
the Bellingham Food Bank along with our support for Eat Local week.
The linking of Social Justice and RE activities with Green Sanctuary has been an important focus this year.
It started last year with the Social Justice sponsored speaker on fair trade chocolate. Then in the fall of
2008, the RE program hosted reverse trick or treat for Halloween in conjunction with our Fair Trade November
events. The GSP team co-sponsored Social Justice Team's guest speaker David Bacon on Immigration in January
2009. And then in April 2009, they cosponsored Green Sanctuary's follow up guest speaker, agro-ecologist
Baldemar Mendoza Jimenez, on GMO contamination of traditional corn varieties in Mexico and it's affects
on migration and food security. The leaders of each team have begun regular meetings to coordinate activities
and support each other's efforts.
Our next planned big activity is the creation of a cookbook tentatively titled "Eating Locally by the Seasons".
We can support the local food economy by helping people learn how to live as much as possible on what is grown
here, even in the winter. Learning to preserve food, paying attention to the fuel costs associated with food,
supporting the next generation of local farmers and making sure everyone, no matter their income level is
included, are our long term goals.
Lead: GSP Planning Team
Project Title: Support Local Salmon Restoration
Project Description and Action: The two most
pressing environmental issues in our county are disappearing farmland and disappearing salmon runs. Our
local Indian tribes have traditionally relied on area salmon runs both as a food source and as an integral
part of their culture. One local organization, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), is dedicated
to restoring salmon runs by restoring local creeks. In talking with NSEA about how BUF could be involved
with their efforts, they suggested starting small by helping with their creek cleanup work parties. These
occur in early spring and late fall every year and we began attending the work parties in November 2007.
We continue to publicize these work parties, with particular emphasis on work parties that deal with Whatcom
Creek. Our church is located within this creek's watershed as it flows out of Lake Whatcom, our city water
supply, and through downtown Bellingham.
Timeline for Completion: Ongoing
Outcomes: Success in work party attendance
has been inconsistent. We try to organize a group to attend at least one work party each season, sometimes
recruiting a handful of people, other times not. NSEA underwent some organizational changes and for a while
put on hold any relationship we were developing. With the changes completed, we have resumed our relationship
with them and plan to continue developing it as more and more people are becoming interested in water issues.
We are lucky that the current NSEA board president is a BUF member. Other BUF members are involved in water
quality issues with Lake Whatcom, and with water conservation. If we ever reach a level of participation that
is high and steady, there are other NSEA projects we can add.
Lead: GSP Planning Team
(2 required, these can relate to the program elements of your choice)
Project Title: Sunday Morning Education
Table (Religious Education element)
Project Description and Action: This project
began as a Film/Guest Speaker Series and for the first year, we held either a film or guest speaker
presentation just about every other month. In fact, one of our GSP team members donated a DVD projector
to the church for this purpose. In September 2007, a trained local facilitator gave an "Inconvenient Truth"
workshop. Then in November 2007, we held a showing of a David Korten DVD on "The Great Turning" with a
facilitated discussion following. In 2008 we held three more presentations. First in February, we held a
showing of the electronic waste film "Digital Dump: Exporting Re-Use and Abuse to Africa" on the dumping of
our electronic waste into the developing world. Then in November we showcased the fair trade video "Black
Gold." The film "Renewal" on environmental projects by various faith communities was presented both in
December and again in February 2009 as an Adult RE Sunday School class.
We began to realize that we were reaching only a small group of people and many times, the same ones.
"Preaching to the choir" is a problem not only for us, but other organizations in town as well. We decided
to try a new tactic – bring these educational opportunities to where our members are, without them having
to come to us. So we instituted a weekly GSP information table during coffee hour on Sundays. Each month
we select a different topic and GSP members take turns staffing the table. We provide a wide variety of
brochures, products and information sheets related to the topic of the month. We also register people
for upcoming classes and promote other GSP activities. We continue to hold film showings and bring in
guest speakers but they are tied to one of our other projects.
This January we added another educational tool. We call them "Green Conversations" where anyone can join
us for lunch after Sunday service once a month to discuss that month's topic. Again this has brought a
different group of interested folks to us and topics have included water quality and conservation, food,
Timeline for Completion: Ongoing
Outcomes: We have learned to be flexible.
So much is going on at BUF, in people's lives, and in the community, that activities can be lost in the
crowd. We are trying new ways of communicating, developing ways to be part of people's lives, and
realizing that we won't reach everyone. Our web site has been a huge success and reaches those who
use that medium for their information. In fact, another UU congregation, located an hour south of us,
found us via the web site and invited our co-chairs to help them kick off their Green Sanctuary program.
Another idea is to create a Green Sanctuary section of the BUF Library. Dozen of books and DVDs have been
donated and our next step is to help the new voluntary librarian in setting this up.
Lead: GSP Planning Team
Project Title: Climate Change
Actions (Environmental Justice)
Project Description and Action: On April 14,
2007, thousands of Americans gathered across the country in a National Day of Climate Action, to call on
our representatives to take action on climate change. The local Bellingham Step It Up! Climate Change Rally
drew about 300 people, of which 30 of us (or 10% of gathering) were from the fellowship. We gathered at the
church and walked the several blocks to Maritime Heritage Park. The message we wanted to send to Congress
was specific – cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. This was an event for the whole family. We wore red and
carried signs. This was part of our Green Sanctuary kickoff month.
In March 2008, BUF hosted the Appalachian Voices presentation of "Appalachian Treasures" sponsored by the
Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and our Social Justice Team. This
multi-media presentation was on mountaintop removal and its critical social and environmental justice impacts
in the Appalachian Mountains. The environmental justice action for this event involved hand writing letters
to our local US representative to co-sponsor legislation to prevent coal mining waste from being dumped into
In both 2008 and 2009, BUF members were encourage to participate in Lights Out International Campaign that
encouraged members to turn off their lights for one hour in protest to world governments on the issue of
Timeline for Completion: April 2007
Outcomes: Our main outcome was a sense of
pride in the numbers we drew to the climate change rally. It helped carry the momentum into our
Transportation Challenge. Later in September as part of climate change education, we hosted the
Inconvenient Truth slide show and followed with the NWEI class on climate change. Most of our
climate change work since then has been focused within our simplicity circles and part of our
other projects focusing on energy conservation. As events present themselves, we publicize them
as best we can.
Lead: GSP Planning Team
|Sustainable Living Projects
(4 required, 1 that addresses energy conservation
Project Title: Green Building Expansion
Project Description and Action: Our congregation
is embarking on an exciting new phase by building on an addition to our current building. This has been a
project ten years in the making. We plan to break ground on June 1, 2009. When the Design Team was formed,
we asked to have Green Sanctuary representation on the team. Glad we did! Karen Hamalainen and Deb Cruz worked
tirelessly to educate, insist and lobby for environmental aspects to be included in the design, with energy
conservation at the top of the list. Some members of the Design Team thought "green" would be nice but cost
was a significant concern.. Now the congregation's strong preference for building green can be seen in the
Our new architect, Urban Design Group, is a vanguard for sustainable building practices in Whatcom County.
We expect to achieve LEED silver certification. One of the greenest features of the new building is its
location within an existing neighborhood, near bike-able roads and transit lines. The decision not to move
away from the city core was huge. In addition, almost all the rooms have moderated access to natural light
– allowing passive lighting, and not too much passive heating. Here are some of the other features (from
the Building Task Force):
In October 2008, the month was dedicated to "Green Building and Renovation" to work
in conjunction with
the Capital Campaign kickoff for the new addition. Each week a different topic on building green was
presented to help educate the congregation on the possibilities and importance of incorporating "green
thinking" into our building design and personal home building and renovation projects. We also invited
solar specialist Dana Brandt of Ecotech Energy Systems to do a presentation on solar power to help explain
the use of solar power in building construction and renovation.
- Two rain-gardens and rain barrels to clean and handle most of our storm water on-site.
- Native landscaping around all sides of existing and new buildings.
- Solar shading devices (trellis) to moderate solar exposure and heat gains.
- Pre-wired roof for solar panels for future installation.
- High energy-efficient furnace with multiple zones system and built in heat recovery.
- Triple-pane window glazing with film or tint.
- Super insulated building envelope (exterior of building), R-20 slab, R-25 wall, R-50 roof.
- Low-impact building materials.
- Reclaimed/recycled hardwood, trim material and flooring;
- Partial metal standing-seam roof, the rest long life-span composite;
- All site-cast concrete will be of 60% or greater Fly-Ash (a waste product);
- Exposed integral-colored hardscape walls and patios;
- Low- or No-VOC Wall and Floor coverings/paint/finishes;
- Local Vendors -- Local Materials.
- Designated Bike Rack (30-40 stalls) on I Street.
- Room Occupancy Sensors (ROS) where necessary, to turn off unused lights automatically.
Timeline for Completion: Preliminary Design
Team work completed Spring 2008; Final Designs submitted to city March 2009; Groundbreaking June 2009;
Occupation March 2010
Outcomes: The biggest outcome has been the
congregational wide consensus that building "green" is the way to go. We are already a "green power leader",
by signing up in 2008 with Puget Sound Energy's Green Power Program to buy renewable energy equal to the
amount of electricity we use. As far as we can tell, we are the only church at the leadership level. Now
with this expansion, we are really putting our money where our mouth is.
Lead: Deb Cruz, Karen Hamalainen, Molly
Monahan (with Building Task Force)
Project Title: Transportation Challenge
Project Description and Action: According to
the Union of Concerned Scientists, our choice of transportation mode is the most effective choice individual
citizens can make toward improving the environment. So we challenged our members to learn to use alternative
means of transportation such as walking, bicycling, riding the bus and carpooling. From Earth Day to Autumn
Equinox 2007, we challenged all members and friends to use alternative transportation to and from Sunday
service as a first step. Over 60 members recorded their Sunday trips on a poster prominently featured in the
church foyer. We also encouraged them to record all alternative transportation trips on the local city website
WhatcomSmartTrips.org which offers awards from area businesses for residents using alternative transportation.
We have available, a number of transportation alternative brochures, transit maps and bike routes maps, at the
Sunday Green Sanctuary table during our congregation's coffee hour.
Timeline for Completion: September 2007
Outcomes: This was our first project, being
kicked off during our Earth Day 2007 Fair. Although we held this challenge only once, it has had lasting
effects. The number of people who use alternative transportation to Sunday services (and everyday) continues
to rise. Many people also carpool to BUF meetings and events in the evening when the city bus system reduces
service. On Sundays our bike racks are always full as well as most trees in the vicinity. Our building
expansion plans include huge new bike racks with 30 – 40 stalls.
Lead: GSP Planning Team
Project Title: Green Building Expansion
Project Description and Action:
Project Title: Recycling at BUF
Project Description and Action: In January 2008,
three members of our Green Sanctuary team attended Sustainable Connections "Toward Zero Waste" workshop.
This was a citywide initiative to help businesses reduce their waste. As a result, we had Sanitary Services
(our local trash collector) perform a waste audit on our building. In the following months, we instituted
color coded recycling and waste containers throughout the building, added Food Plus Recycling and switched
our mix of waste and recycling collection bins outdoors.
We also conducted an Electronic Waste recycling event in February 2008. This event included showing the
film "Digital Dump: Exporting Re-Use and Abuse to Africa" on the dumping of our electronic waste into the
developing world and was followed up by an e-waste drive for the congregation in cooperation with Sanitary
In February 2009, as one of our Green Conversations, we conducted a review of our new recycling system and
have a list of items to improve our recycling efforts including better signage, combined bin receptacles for
the social hall and foyer and educational tidbits to be added to Sunday order of service announcements and
midweek email updates.
Timeline for Completion: March 2008 and
Outcomes: This is an important "walk our talk"
project for BUF. Our website has a page dedicated to BUF's recycling program along with other recycling
resources. We now have new recycling rules built into our rental contracts with outside groups. We model
behavior we want members to use at home. Annual reviews tell us where we need to do more education or make
adjustments to the system. Next year's review will focus on our new building addition.
Lead: GSP Planning Team and Erin Malone,
Project Title: Voluntary Simplicity Circles
Project Description and Action: Originally this
fourth Sustainable Living project was to be a book on eating ethically. That has since been folded into our
Food Security For All project. Our original simplicity circle began in January 2006 (and is still going),
before we even thought about the Green Sanctuary program. Two more circles ran that following summer, but
did not evolve into ongoing projects like the original Simplicity Circle which continues to be very involved
and active, promoting and encouraging simplicity and sustainability. However, people kept asking when we
were going to start new circles, so we began regular start up of new circles last summer. We now offer
registration into new circles every January and July. We had been using Cecile Andrews' Circle of Simplicity
book which details a 10 session course. However, this January we began using NW Earth Institute's revised 5
session Voluntary Simplicity manual since we had great feedback on other NWEI manuals. We already have people
signed up for circles starting this coming summer and one of the January 2009 circles is continuing to meet.
Timeline for Completion: Ongoing; new
circles starting in January and July
Outcomes: The small group interaction seems to
be a great way for members to begin seriously working toward our goal of living in harmony with the earth.
This project has unexpectedly brought new people into our Green Sanctuary program. After participating, many
become active in other GSP activities. We also have a lot of support from our minister and administrator as
the circles are an effective tool for people during this economic crisis.
Lead: Linda Fels
|Accomplishment of Program Goals
To build awareness of societal environmental issues among UU's.
Lack of awareness of environmental issues never seemed to be a problem within our
congregation. Knowing what to do and how to be effective were the issues. The Green Sanctuary program has
helped us focus the congregation's energies in supporting sustainable agriculture, has helped us "walk our
talk" by doing what it takes to build green, and has helped us understand the power of ongoing small group
activities (classes and circles) in making real changes, not only in congregational life, but our personal
To generate commitment for personal lifestyle changes.
We have been very pleased to see the changes members are making in their lives. Many
are building green in their home constructions and remodels. Use of alternative transportation is becoming the
norm. People pride themselves in sharing how local and organic their dishes are for our potluck gatherings. People
are becoming more active in the greater community projects, events and organizations. While some members are just
starting this journey, others are constantly asking us, the Green Sanctuary Team, to push the congregation even
To motivate UU's to community action on environmental issues.
Many BUF members do not need much motivation. For those who did, the combination of classes,
guest speaker forums, web site, simplicity circles and Sunday informational table, kept the issues in front of them.
Basically you could not hide from us. We also helped focus the congregation on specific activities for community
action. Bellingham is a very active city environmentally and many times there are multiple events on the same day.
We combed through them and by using our various communication media (web site, bulletin board, order of service
inserts, GSP email group and Sunday information table), encouraged members to participate where we could make an
To build a connection between spiritual practice and environmental consciousness.
The purpose of our recent Pachamama Alliance symposium was to build such a connection. The
workshop actually goes one step further and includes social justice in the mix. This has been our goal since the
beginning with the earth-based worship services, the December 2008 showing of the film "Renewal" (which depicts
various religious traditions and their faith's call to environmental action) and incorporating the environment as
an integral part of religious education. For both the "Renewal" and Pachamama projects, we even extended invitations
to the outside faith community to participate and hope to build or be part of an interfaith movement to bring back
the spiritual connection to the natural world.
To build awareness of and rectify environmental injustices.
We believe we have built awareness of both local and global food security issues among our
members. Our education projects, simplicity circles, guest speakers and Sunday information table helped us achieve
that. Rectifying injustices takes time and patience and many small steps. We give members a way to make those small
steps while staying encouraged. And we try to find different ways of making progress. There is a myriad of
environmental justice issues and activities in our area and we are supporting as many as we are able. Not everyone
can plant salmon friendly trees by a creek, so we have fundraising opportunities with our yearly Green Sanctuary
choice for a Social Justice collection. We have food bank bins always ready in the church foyer. A gardener can grow
an extra row for the food bank and another member can support a local farm by buying a CSA share. Some members have
taken permaculture classes while others attend city or county meetings on local land use issues. It's our belief that
it is imperative to get as many people as possible working on whatever aspect of the food security issue that ignites
What do you believe has been the most important benefit your congregation has gained as a
result of your participation in the Green Sanctuary Program?
The disappearance of resistance to building "green" for our upcoming expansion is the most
important benefit. We started out with opposing sides to the argument "Can the extra cost be justified?". Now everyone
expects us to build as environmentally responsible as possible. This change in attitude is spilling over into other
areas as people are using alternative transportation, eating locally grown organic foods, exchanging water conservation
ideas and inviting each other to events in town. It is the resistance to change that is disappearing.
What has been the most difficult or challenging aspect of the program for your congregation
Another important benefit has been the depth with which we are grasping the issues we are faced with. Our realization
that environmental, social and spiritual issues are inextricably bound together has allowed for more creative action as
diverse groups find common ground on which to learn and act. We have discovered we can no longer treat issues as solely
a social, spiritual or environmental one and expect to accomplish anything. Only by recognizing the interconnectedness
of the different aspects of an issue can we really begin to formulate effective action plans that will bring us closer
to a viable solution with the support necessary to bring it forward.
Reaching every member household to make changes has the been the biggest challenge. Some still
think the whole Green Sanctuary program is geared solely toward the new building expansion. It doesn't affect them or
their lives. The term "green sanctuary" hindered our ability to convince some that this is about changes in their lives
too, not just the building. We did try different methods and event types so everyone could participate. We are making
progress and those who participate in our small group activities – simplicity circles and NWEI classes have made the
Have you been able to discern positive changes in your congregation's culture as a result of
the activities you accomplished? If so, what are they?
People are so busy that it is sometimes difficult to be heard above the roar of daily life. Bellingham is a very active
community with multiple events held most days. Many of our members serve on boards or as staff for local environmental
and social justice organizations. The connections we are building between groups and issues are improving the situation.
There is still the problem of overload. So we are trying to focus congregational efforts so people have a sense of
Many believe our biggest benefit is the concentration of effort in the environmental justice
arena. As a congregation we tend to be scattered in that everyone has their own cause. Our Food Security For All project
brought together our organic gardeners, local food supporters, land use experts, hunger advocates and those pulling for
farm justice. This project not only brought our Green Sanctuary, Social Justice and Lifelong Learning programs together;
it helped revitalize all of them.
What are your intentions/aspirations for continuing to live out your Green Sanctuary commitments?
The change in attitude about building green is another area of positive change. While there were many who pushed to
incorporate "green building", there was resistance because of the perceived expense. Hiring a new architect and general
contractor with experience in green building has opened us up to many possibilities and choices. Education and awareness
of green building practices and solutions has also contributed to the congregation feeling much more comfortable with the
concept of building green and in many cases, many are very excited about the project.
We are in planning discussions now on the next phase of our program. We plan to continue our focus
on Food Security For All because of its effect on so many issues about which people are concerned which include water
quality and conservation and land use. We are working with the social justice team to lobby for a paid staff position
dedicated to social and environmental justice. We will continue the small group activities (classes and circles) because
that is where we see real personal change happening. We will also continue our networking with the other organizations
and faiths and increasing our presence in the greater community. For the next year or so much of our focus will be on
our building expansion, its construction phase and monitoring the decisions made along the way. Once it is completed,
we hope to be a community center for holding even more events.
What on-going role do you expect your congregation will take in the wider community relative
to environmental issues? How do you feel recognition as a Green Sanctuary affects your position in the community?
We plan to continue to expand our connections with the wider Bellingham and Whatcom County
communities by co-sponsoring and hosting events, working with the new transition town initiative group - Transition
Whatcom and becoming an official member of the local business group, Sustainable Connections, with whom we already work.
Recognition as a Green Sanctuary can only heighten our visibility and credibility in the community. We are hoping to
reach out to other faith communities and the accreditation will help there as well.