The purpose of conducting an opportunity assessment is to enable the congregation to identify and describe opportunities and challenges to achieving the greatest impacts with respect to:
- Mitigating the climate-change crisis.
- Adapting and building resilience to impacts of the crisis.
- Securing justice by collaborating with marginalized communities most impacted by but least responsible for the crisis.
The assessment gathers data which guides development of an action plan to achieve those impacts and engage in that collaborative work. It also establishes baselines, which make it possible to measure and describe the impacts and results of the congregation’s Green Sanctuary efforts.
The assessment questions can help you understand your congregation’s current environmental practices, and encourage further reflection. Think of them as a guideline more than a prescription - you may encounter issues not listed here, or find you need more specificity in some areas. The objective is to begin thinking as broadly as possible, eventually targeting specific issues as you learn. While not every item will be relevant to your congregation, the items required as part of your Action Plan are starred and should be part of your Assessment. Be selective, spending time and resources where it matters most. Remember, too, that the purpose of the assessment is to document where you are right now so you can plan how to move forward. Focus on what your congregation is actually doing, not what you’ve talked about, or think you “should” do. Don’t worry about whether your current practices are “good enough.” No matter where you are starting from, the Green Sanctuary program will give your congregation the opportunity to grow.
Once you have collected the data from the assessment, you will use it to create an Action Plan, where you will create three campaigns (one each for mitigation, adaptation/resilience, and justice) that make sense for your congregation’s circumstances and passions. These campaigns- a combination of education activities, projects, and civic action- will be the heart of your work towards Green Sanctuary accreditation.