2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day
by Chris Piatek
Each Sunday, we light five Candles of Fellowship to actively affirm our commitments to five core UUCWC principles. One of these candles affirms UUCWC’s commitment to caring for our earth and, more locally, our church building and grounds as a Green Sanctuary. UUCWC was awarded “Green Sanctuary” certification by the Unitarian Universalist Association in March 2010. The projects implemented that allowed us to achieve this designation, and which continue to be the focus of UUCWC’s Earth Ministry, cover these areas:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Use of green products and reduction of toxic substances
- Energy conservation
- Water conservation
- Organic and/or local products
- Landscaping and grounds
- Nature contact
- Environmental practices
- Solar installation
- Environmental and social justice
The Earth Ministry team promotes the use of environmentally sustainable products at UUCWC and in our homes. Over the years, UUCWC has eliminated use of paper and plastic dinner ware and cups and has engaged more intentionally in composting and recycling, and has sponsored periodic used book sales. Earth Ministry has worked with other groups and ministries at UUCWC to incorporate green strategies and principles through energy audits, our solar installation, our kitchen’s energy efficient stove, window films to manage heat and sunlight, composting, and other ways. Earth Ministry has hosted bicycle collections for the Trenton Boys and Girls Club, participated in our local township cleanup program, hosted films and discussions focused on sustainable living and much more.
Two of Earth Ministry’s most prominent and longstanding activities are the yearly planting, tending and harvesting of our on-site organic garden (Allie’s garden), the bounty of which is used for both our HomeFront and Food Ministry programs, and our fair-trade organic products available during Sunday coffee hour. The coffee brewed each Sunday is provided through the sales of these organic products which include coffee, tea, chocolate and olive oil. Sale proceeds also benefit Earth Ministry projects such as energy conservation and eco-friendly measures at UUCWC. Fair Trade coffee, which is more expensive than coffee that moves through producers and distributors, is purchased directly from farmers or their co-ops, guaranteeing them a fair price. Organic coffee is grown without harmful synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Over the past 16 years, the proceeds from Earth Ministry’s Organic Product Sales have provided UUCWC in excess of 605 pounds of coffee with a value of over $4,800. For every pound of product we purchase, our supplier, Equal Exchange, donates $0.20 to the UU Service Committee, and this has totaled more than $800. UUCWC’s support in purchasing these organic products is vital for Earth Ministry to continue providing these benefits to UUCWC consistent with our Green Sanctuary goals.
This year, Earth Ministry plans to partner more directly with ISLES’ urban agriculture program. Through its participation in the Garden Support Network, ISLES brings local residents together in the interest of growing fresh food and improving community access to good nutrition. Its annual events include seed-and-plant distributions, gardening workshops, and social activities. Earth Ministry will be offering a $100 scholarship to enable ISLES participants in its urban agriculture program to attend an all-day organic gardening workshop to be led by Al Johnson at UUCWC on March 28, 2020. In this workshop, Al teaches participants about a host of practices including garden placement, soils, managing pests, weeds and diseases, and appropriate structures to house gardens.
Earth Ministry members will tour the TerraCycle recycling facility in Trenton on Sunday, February 9 to learn about this company’s innovative operation – which takes day to day products that aren’t readily recyclable through community programs and turns them into reusable products, and to gather information about additional product recycling we could implement at UUCWC. Earth Ministry and FAM will partner in hosting a potluck and movie night to show the film The Condor and the Eagle, which documents the journey of four Native environmentalists through a deepening understanding of climate justice. The film will be shown on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at UUCWC.
Earth Ministry will also host a Mindful Meditation walk on church grounds between the services on Sunday, April 5. Sandy Unger and Steve Saddlemire will facilitate the meditation. We also hope to gather a large group of UUCWC members to participate in the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space community cleanup on Saturday, April 18. Participating in this event earns donation dollars for UUCWC and allows us to contribute to the community in which UUCWC is located.
Earth Ministry has been co-facilitated for many years by Al Johnson and Barbara Drew. Earth Ministry’s full calendar of events (to date) for the remainder of the 2020 church year, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day follows:
- Saturday, February 1, NOFA Winter Conference (UUCWC member Al Johnson is a presenter), Rutgers, New Brunswick, see https://nofanj.org/winter-conference/
- Sunday, February 9, after second service, Tour of Trenton TerraCycle facility (space may be limited), https://www.terracycle.com, contact Wendy Stasolla for more information
- Sunday, March 22, 5 p.m. at UUCWC, Potluck and film: The Condor and the Eagle, contact Barbara Drew or Jamie Evanini
- Saturday, March 28 (all day) at UUCWC, Organic Gardening Workshop, UUCWC, Al Johnson, presenter, contact Al Johnson
- Sunday, March 29, Crossing Room, after both services, Green Table “Recycling, Composting and the Loop,” contact Wendy Stasolla
- Friday, April 3, 6pm, at UUCWC, Potluck and film: Biggest Little Farm, contact Geri Koblis
- Sunday, April 5, during middle hour, Mindful Meditation Walk on church grounds, led by Sandy Unger and Steve Saddlemire
- Saturday, April 18 ( 8am to 12pm), Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space Township Cleanup (we clean in the vicinity of UUCWC), contact Chris Piatek and see https://www.fohvos.info/
- Sunday, April 19, Earth Day Service, led by Reverend Jennifer Kelliher