The Green Sanctuary (GS) program provides a path for congregational study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges. If your congregation chooses to embark on this path, you will start by forming a team. Contact Green Sanctuary staff at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect to a congregational coach who will support your team at critical junctures. Your team will arrange to conduct assessments of your community context, current practices, and programs.
Based on the assessments and the criteria for each of the four focus areas, you will plan congregational projects to address specific areas. Your congregation will then complete these projects over a period of two to three years, with the goal of bringing your congregational cultural into greater alignment with environmentally - aware faith and practices, and becoming an accredited Green Sanctuary.
All along the way, you can work with your congregational coach and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Green Sanctuary staff, through the UUA Office of Congregational Stewardship Services, which oversees the program and grants accreditation.
Green Sanctuary is based on a framework of four focus areas:
These are the building blocks of the Green Sanctuary program. When completing the initial assessments congregations examine their current practices and context in each of these four areas. Likewise, all four areas are represented in the projects that Green Sanctuary candidates plan and complete.
Environmental justice acknowledges that marginalized communities are often hit first and hardest by environmental crisis. Beyond this, it bases analysis and action on an assumption that oppression of the environment is intricately linked to oppression of different groups of people. This list of elements/principles further clarifies how the Green Sanctuary Program understands environmental justice.
We understand that:
Doing environmental work guided by these elements shifts us beyond providing assistance, to thinking and working with negatively impacted communities. Some UUs refer to this as a culture shift from "charity to solidarity”.
Environmental issues are inextricably linked to the crises of racism, classism and other forms of oppression. Generously supporting ‘less fortunate’ people is critical, yet charity can exacerbate the very oppressions we hope to redress. To broaden understanding and effort, environmentalists need cross- boundary partnerships to analyze, strategize and lead well-informed and just environmental work.
One way to think about this is a move from "charity to solidarity". For many this will be equivalent to a "culture shift," intentionally seeking multicultural partnerships. For some, it will be a new experience to take the lead from, and create Beloved Community with people most profoundly impacted by environmental injustices.
With environmental justice, there is no less insistence that the planet and its extraordinary diversity be honored, supported and restored; but environmental work must be grounded in the realities and in collaboration with those people most marginalized in our cultures.
People who identify as part of a marginalized community may be part of your congregation. If so, and they are willing, your projects will be enriched through a multicultural lense and leadership. Otherwise, it is essential that the team reach out into the larger community across cultural boundaries to seek multiple perspectives and energies.
Because of its foundational orientation, environmental justice work should be integrated into your entire Green Sanctuary Action Plan, so it is important to be aware of its implications early on in the process.
It is important for your Green Sanctuary team to think holistically and synergistically when conducting your preliminary analysis/audit and preparing your proposed Green Sanctuary Action Plan. We strongly recommend that you think expansively and see how environmental justice can be integrated into all the aspects of the plan, not simply put into the community action section. We encourage you to think creatively about how you might review worship, religious education, building plans and policies, and various existing community ministries with an eye to how they might connect with and contribute to the environmental justice action component.
There are four phases to the environmental justice focus.
For more information contact
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
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Last updated on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
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