"Perhaps the most deeply integrated and compassionate
expression of our caring for the planet is our recognition of the plight of beings who
are not flourishing. Some of these beings are humans who suffer environmental oppression
from unjust discrimination of the wealthy and advantaged in society. Some are other
species whose simple right to existence is not recognized by their oppressors. To act
boldly, even radically, to raise such plights to the recognition of our fellows and
provide relief to the oppressed is perhaps the pinnacle of our religious environmental
~ Green Sanctuary Program Manual
"Environmental justice challenges us take action
to create a just society,
so that the benefits we receive in our lives
do not come at the expense of others.
Earth justice asks us to first, acknowledge, and then redress
how environmental impacts fall first and most severely
on those who receive the least of the benefits
and are mostly powerless to effect changes.
It also means that justice must be extended beyond
human societies to include
whose lives are shadowed by the burdens imposed on them
by the inappropriate, unsustainable, sometimes cruel,
and destructive life-styles of our species."
~ Green Sanctuary Program Manual
Environmental justice or Earth justice, encompasses a wide variety of issues.
It's roots are tangled in spiritual degradation, social inequity and environmental exploitation.
In fact, it's difficult to separate them. All three aspects are intricately interwoven and so
must their solutions be interwoven as well. BUF's Green Sanctuary Program recognizes this triad
and will be working closely with Social Justice, Worship and RE teams to put forward programming
that addresses the spiritual, social justice and environmental aspects of our lifestyle and the
necessary changes to be made not only in our congregational life, but in the greater community
as well. In this joined effort, hopefully we can begin the healing process not only for the
Earth, but ourselves as well.
Environmental Justice Organizations
and Social Justice Collections
Click here to enter the environmental justice
organization listing page
or head into the
here or (on the menu to the right). The environmental justice
organization page will list local, national and international organizations invovled in
conservation and other environmental efforts. The information center link will take you
local/regional resources, recommended readings, articles, and video resources in a variety
of environmental topic areas. Each and every one of these organizations needs support, so
pick one, two or a few and begin working with them!
BUF's Social Justice Collections
Every month, BUF holds a special social justice collection, where the proceeds of one Sunday's collections
is donated to a local social/environmental organization whose efforts and/or programming meets the ideals
of the congregation. The following organizations with environmental focuses or program components have been
Sustainable Connections "Food to Bank On"
Habitat for Humanity
RE Sources (Coal Terminal efforts)
Community Co-op Farm Fund
The Whatcom Creek Salmon Art Trail
RE Sources, Baykeepers
Kulshan Community Land Trust
Growing Washington's Just Food
NW Wildlife and Rehabilitation center
Whatcom Land Trust
Sustainable Connections Food to Bank On
Kulshan Land Trust
Nooksack Salomon Enhancement Association (NSEA)
To be announced
To be announced
One requirement for the Green Sanctuary Program certification is the establishment of a long-term
partnership with an outside organization that is involved in some form of environmental justice
effort. It is hoped that through these partnerships BUF and other organizations will be able to
boost their capacity to create change. It is the aim of the GSP that its projects will aim toward
benefiting to those who directly suffer the impacts of the environmental degradation. At this point
in time, BUF is engaged in at least three long-term, ongoing relationships, and will hopefully be
adding more in the future. These relationships include:
Long-term Collaborations: County Food Banks
The Bellngham Food Bank has it's origins within the BUF Community, having been founded
by BUF members. 2008 and 2009, have seen a revitialization of BUF's connection with the Food Bank.
While BUF has had food donations bins for the Food Bank available in the foyer for some time now, members
in the congregation felt the need to strengthen our connection with the Food Bank both as a social justice
and an environmental response.
With the economic crisis each of us if facing at this point in time, many others are simply not making
ends meet. The area food banks is sorely pressed to accomodate the increases due to the economic crisis
and is falling well short of the need for food donations. Starting in April 2009, the third Sunday of every
month became food donation collection sunday with donations being blessed during the offertory and then
going to area food banks.
Green Sanctuary is also working with BUF administration to establish an automatic withdrawal program
for those congregants who want to provide financial support on a monthly basis. This program would
allow congregants to have a monthly financial contribution automatically withdrawn from personal
accounts on behalf of the area food banks. Watch for details.
Long-term Collaborations: Sustainable
Sustainable Connections supports our greater community's innovators in green building, sustainable
agriculture, renewable energy, supporting independent businesses in town centers, and mentoring a
new breed of entrepreneurs that have designed their business with a sustainable vision. BUF has
recently become a full-fledged member of this organization. Above and beyond that, several BUF
members are individual members of this organization as well. Many BUF members attend events,
classes, workshops put on by this organization that has sustainability as its overall goal.
Currently, BUF is a member of this organization.
Long-term Collaboration: Nooksack Salmon
"NSEA's mission is the restoration of sustainable wild salmon runs in Whatcom County. This is
accomplished through a variety of programs and activities. Since several BUF members were
already involved in this organization, it was thought to establish a more formal relationship
through the Green Sanctuary Program and support its efforts in salmon habitat restoration.
Long-term Collaboration: Bellingham and Lummi
Whatcom County Food Banks work diligently to provide sorely needed food resources to our less
fortunate population. Although there are six food banks in Whatcom County, BUF has a special
relationship with both the Bellingham Food Bank and the Lummi Food Bank. GSP encourages BUF
members not only to support the local food banks with regular food items, but also through the
"Grow A Row" program, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) donations and always encourgages
members to provide local, organic and/or fair trade food donation items.
Long-term Collaboration: Transition Whatcom
A result of the formation of the Whatcom Peak Oil Task Force, was the beginning and on-going
evolution of Transition Whatcom. Transition Whatcom is a networking hub of individuals and
groups that work towards sustainability and a post-carbon society. Although Transition Whatcom
is still in its infancy, BUF already has several if its individual members involved with this
organization, has co-sponsored/hosted events by TC and will continue to engage and support
this organization in the future. BUF co-sponsored Transition Whatcom's Leadership training
in August 2010.
The UU Ministry For The Earth
Whatcom Wildlife Area
The Whatcom Wildlife Area has eight units totaling 4,960 acres north of Bellingham in Whatcom
County, with the majority within a few miles of Puget Sound and about ten miles south of the
Canadian border. More than three miles of the Nooksack River are adjacent to the wildlife area.
The Tennant Lake unit is situated in the Nooksack River's mainstem floodplain and the river hugs
the unit's western border. Most wetlands in the lower Nooksack were diked and ditched by the
beginning of the 20th century.
Habitat types here include submergent and emergent marsh, grasslands, open water and deciduous,
coniferous and mixed forest. Without disturbance, the climax vegetation in this area would be
western red cedar and Douglas fir. The Whatcom Wildlife Area contains a wide range of wetland-
and riparian-dependent species, as well as upland species. The area supports important habitat
for wintering waterfowl and is located on the Pacific Flyway.
It was purchased beginning in the 1940s primarily for waterfowl habitat preservation and public
recreation, with more recent acquisitions focused on salmonid habitat preservation.
Whatcom County's Wildlife Area units include:
Pine and Cedar Lakes
Educational Forum Series:
Economic Impacts of GPT
January 8, 2013, 7:00 -9:30 pm, Sanctuary
Join Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship and Communitywise Bellingham in the third
forum in our series addressing the aquatic, health, economic and climate change impacts of the proposed
Gateway Pacific Terminal. The goal of the forum is to provide our community with information on possible
economic impacts of GPT, in order to inspire and inform scoping comments, as well as generate a wider
discussion of the project's economic concerns. Speaker/topics include:
- Local Economic Risks and Costs of GPT
Shannon Wright, Executive Director, Communitywise Bellingham
- Tax Implications of GPT
David Stalheim, Get Whatcom Planning Blog, Former Whatcom County Planning Director
- Overview of the City of Bellingham’s Concerns and Actions to Date
Michael Lilliquist, City of Bellingham Council Member
- Coal Export Impacts on Rail Infrastructure and Local Communities – A Regional Perspective
Ross McFarlane, Senior Advisor, Climate Solutions
- South Fork Rail Route & Impacts to Agriculture
Nicole Brown, Safeguard the South Fork, WWU Professor, Co-owner Moondance Farm
GPT EIS Educational Forum Series:
Climate Change Impacts
January 10, 2013, 7:00 -9:00 pm
First Congregational Church of Bellingham
Join us in the final forum in our series addressing the aquatic, health, climate
change and economic impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The purpose of these forums is to
provide Whatcom County residents with the necessary information to write effective comments for the EIS
scoping process. This final session in the series examines some of the potential climate change impacts.
Presentation and discussion. Co-sponsored by RE Sources, First Congregational Church of Bellingham, and
the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship.
Jill MacIntyre Witt will share with us the latest Al Gore presentation from the
Climate Reality Project in order to bridge the impacts of climate change to N. America's largest proposed
coal export terminal. She will provide concrete action steps at both the personal and local level and leave
the audience understanding that their actions do matter and that the time is now for transitioning away
from fossil fuels.
These forums can be used for two purposes: 1) To assist people in writing EIS scoping comments, and
2) To provide BUFsters the necessary information in which to discuss and make an informed decision on
whether or not to put forward a resolution proposal opposing the Gateway Pacific Terminal. Please attend
if you are participating in either or both activities.
UUSC "Plant Justice, Harvest Peace" Totebag
GSP members will be selling the UUSC Resuable Shopping Bags.
GSP members decided that this project helped further our support of a bag
ban in Bellingham, supported the UUSC (as all money made on the bags will
be turned over to the UUSC) and also supported our firm belief in the
interconnection of social and environmental justice issues. Members will
be encouraged to donate old bags to community programs (continuing our
support of such organizaions as Lydia Place) when they buy the new UUSC
From the UUSC website: "These sturdy, reusable bags are the perfect eco-
and labor-friendly way to promote justice! U.S. and union-made recycled
poly grocery bag, with new "Plant Justice, Harvest Peace" design on one
side. Approximately 13" tall, 12" wide, 8" deep." Price: $5.00
BUF regularly collects and delivers food donations to area food banks. During February, May, August,
November food donations are delivered to the Lummi Reservation Food Bank. The remainder of the
year, donations are delivered to the Bellingham Food Bank. One service a month, food bins are placed in
the front of the sanctuary for a blessing. Members are encouraged to bring forward their donations
during the offertory. Members are always encouraged, too, to provide organic and local products as part
of their donations.
Bellingham Food Bank Donations
September, October, December, January, March, April, June, July
Bellingham Food Bank is Whatcom County's largest emergency food provider. Our mission is to reduce hunger in Bellingham
by providing wholesome foods to those in need. We meet this mission by supplying groceries to tens of thousands of hungry
Bellingham families every year. Our food bank is available to anyone living in Bellingham. We operate with a small staff
and more than 200 volunteers who serve our neighbors with dignity and without judgment. Single individuals and families
can visit once a week for as long as they need assistance, and folks typically leave our food bank with 50-70 pounds of
nutritious food. In addition to feeding Bellingham's hungry families, we serve as the main warehouse and distribution
center for all Whatcom County food banks. We also coordinate the Food Bank Farm, Small Potatoes Gleaning Project and
the Garden Project. To learn more about Bellingham Food Bank's programs,
Bellingham Food Bank
Food Donations Go To The Lummi Reservation Food Bank
August, November, February and May
These months are designated to support the Lummi Reservation Food Bank which serves
all residents (both Indian & non-Indian) living on the reservation and on Lummi Island. It is
being stretched to the limit because of the huge demand it is experiencing. This is one of six
Whatcom County food banks. The demand for food is huge and growing daily. With our economy
faltering, more and more people who used to contribute to the food bank are now finding that
they are in need and are using these services. BUF has agreed to send our food donations to the
Lummi Food Bank one month every quarter. They need canned vegetables (green beans and corn),
canned fruits, dry cereals (corn flakes, cherrios, etc., they get oatmeal in bulk), any kind
of tomato products like sauces, canned tomatoes, flour, sugar, canned milk, beans, pasta, and
rice. Please go through your cupboards or pick up something extra for the blue tubs. They stand
ready to gather your gifts. It is critical that we, as a community, don't fail in our commitment
to feed the hungry and be generous to those struggling to get by. We need to be in this effort
for the long haul!
The UUA On
Ware Lecture (June 2008): Van Jones
Van Jones and Green Jobs
Reported by Jone Johnson Lewis; edited by Dana Dwinell-Yardley.
Rev. William Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, introduced the Ware lecture, recalling the list of past Ware lecturers-who have "given us the great gift of an outside view of what our faith ought to be paying attention to."
Sinkford then listed the organizations that this year's lecturer, Van Jones, has founded or been part of, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which promotes positive alternatives to violence and incarceration; the center's Books Not Bars campaign, which has helped reduce California's overall youth prison population by more than 30 percent; Color Of Change, the nation's biggest e-advocacy organization tackling Black issues; a "Green Jobs Corps" that will train youth for eco-friendly "green-collar" jobs; a project of the center working with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) to create the country's first-ever Green Enterprise Zone to attract environmentally sound industry to Oakland; and, with the center, working with Congress to pass the Green Jobs Act of 2007.
Sinkford commented that Van Jones has "co-founded more organizations than many of us belong to," but that he was most enthusiastic that Jones "embodies hope, not despair."
In his lecture-though "lecture" doesn't do justice to the inspirational tone and spirit of the presentation-Van Jones began by acknowledging the "shadow" of homeland security over the event, and added that "there could not be any more important time to get together under any circumstance."
He spoke about the role and responsibilities of Unitarian Universalists now that "it looks like change is about to break out." He credited the resolve and persistence of Unitarian Universalists for the possibility of a "new era in American politics," and also reported bad news: "Y'all are about to mess up and be successful." Protest and critique of injustice is about to be replaced by a new challenge: "Prepare to govern." Whichever candidate one supports, there will be change, but some will be asking, "Can those people govern?" with stakes high. Whoever one supports in November, what's important is who can be re-elected four years later.
Jones reminded of the danger of stagflation, where rising energy prices raise other prices, while purchasing falls and job loss increases, causing tremendous social upheaval. Will the U.S. have leadership that is addicted to oil and carbon-based fuels, or will we "invent and invest our way out?"
He pointed to many ways in which a response could help bring energy use down while adding "millions of job," calling for a "Green New Deal." Those coming back from Iraq , often injured physically and emotionally, could be put to work rebuilding this nation. He offered the option of saying to "a whole new generation" that "we have a future for you."
Jones contrasted the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples-in America, Africa, even Europe-with the "renegade minority" which historically took the attitude, "I can sell everything"-including people. He called for the wisdom of the "great-great-great-great-grandmothers." It is "now time to bring this wisdom fully back" and apologize to indigenous peoples for the "adolescent rebellion against Mother-she'll forgive."
It is possible, he stressed, to fight pollution and poverty at the same time. It's important to "green the ghetto first." Eco-apartheid, he said, describes the current reality where people who need healthy food can't get it. He compared Whole Foods, for most people, to "whole paycheck." He pointed out that in West Oakland, a city of 35,000 people, there are no grocery stores, but 43 liquor stores. He called for urban farms, rooftop gardens, and other "ways to lift people up."
He described winning the vote in Congress in 2007 for green jobs, despite skepticism that the training money would not go to "work-ready" people, with a lower cost per trainee. But in building a green economy, he stressed, it's important to count what you save, not what you spend. If, for example, past offenders are provided with opportunities, the cost of training may be greater, but society saves other costs, such as the costs of locking them up again and providing social services for their families. "If we are willing to invest in new clean and green jobs, we'll save money-and the soul of the country."
Forty years ago, both Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy were shot; they were fighting for equal protection and equal opportunity. What does equal protection mean in an ecological age? "No more leaving people behind," said Jones. He pointed out that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was the "logical and necessary outcome of a worldview," of the idea that we "don't need government," that individuals should "sink or swim," and that "sink or swim" is good for people-until the television showed people literally sinking. A "green wave," he pointed out, can "lift all boats." "Ecopopulism" can "save the polar bear, Pookie, and the president."
He returned to the theme of governance, pointing out the need to get ready. One way is to choose different stories to inspire. He described the David and Goliath mentality, where we may feel small, embattled, noble, and pure-but the shadow side of the story is that it requires someone else to be our enemy, to be wrong, to be an adversary. We "get good with the slingshot," and that can mean that when Goliath is not in view, meetings can be "messed up" as we look for who is against us. He asked if any of have been in that meeting, and was met with the laughter of recognition from the audience. Instead, he suggested, we use the metaphor of the Noah family of builders in the face of a coming storm.
It's time, he said, to "reconnect with love and enthusiasm." Martin Luther King's speech was not "I Have a Complaint," "I Have a Critique," or "I Have a Long List of Issues." We need beautiful dreams; the country isn't looking for critique but inspiration to be our best self.
It's our turn again, Jones said-those who would "bomb and torture their way to peace" have had their turn. Homophobes have had their turn. "We have family values: everyone in the family has value."
In closing Jones stressed that we "insist on a green economy," adding that we need to do more than take America back-we need to take America forward.
Following enthusiastic applause and cheering from the audience, Sinkford returned to the stage and commented, "Van, you may have struck a chord here. The 2008 General Assembly has received its charge."
From the response of the audience, that charge was received and taken to heart.
Ware Lecture (June 2010): Winona LaDuke
LaDuke Urges Environmental Action
By Donald E. Skinner
June 26, 2010 at 10:44 pm
Winona LaDuke invited her audience Saturday night at the Ware Lecture to take
back their country by erecting wind turbines, blocking coal plants and
genetically-modified crops, and, above all, not waiting for someone else to
save the world.
Duke, a Native-American activist, environmentalist, and writer, lives in
Minnesota and is active in many movements to preserve Native American lands,
and slow climate change. She was a vice-presidential candidate for the Green
Party in 1996 and 2000.
Part of the answer to climate change, she said, is to create a green energy
economy on a local scale. "Do not let them take you into the debate that
renewable energy will never meet present demand. We need an efficient economy
that does not transport everything so far and that does not try to feed the gas
tanks of Hummers. We need to liberate our minds from what we believe we are
entitled to. Take more responsibility than just putting in LED bulbs."
LaDuke is also leading a fight to prevent the genetic modification of wild
rice and native corn varieties. "The Irish potato famine should have taught
us that we don't want a monoculture," she said. "Why not raise corn that's
not addicted to fertilizer and pesticides."
She urged her listeners to dig up their lawns and plant gardens. And to think
about those who will come after them. "We are the people who are here now.
Those who are not yet here are counting on us to do the right thing, whether
they have wings or fins or roots or paws."
There is no other choice, she said. "This is our land and there is no place
else for us to go. I'm going to stay and fight and make it better. Just because
you have privilege and money doesn't mean you can walk away from responsibility."
She added, "Do not ever give up hope. Remember our victories. We fight these
guys and we win. The next revolution will be local. It is possible to make
these changes and it is us who will make them."