How do you know if you’re ready to join UUCA’s Climate Action Team? You’re already busy enough and not really itching to add anything to your plate, right? Of course you care about the planet. You make a legitimate effort to recycle. You read a few paragraphs past the headlines about legislation to combat climate change. You may even click on social media ads for eco-friendly products (ah, those laundry detergent sheets). But is it the right time to join our congregation’s green team? 

If you find yourself alarmed at the growing frequency of catastrophic global weather events caused by climate change. If you reacted to (then 16 year-old) Greta Thunberg’s angry message to the 2019 U.N. Climate Action Summit: “You are failing us.” If you’ve heard of Project Drawdown’s 100 solutions to reverse global warming. If you’ve supported the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, or any other environmental organization.

The CAT joined with worship leaders for Seventh Principle Sunday in April.

If you remember having conversations around 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth or 2020’s David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. If you’ve appreciated Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Richard Powers’ Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Overstory, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, or Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. If you relish the poetry of Mary Oliver.

If the results of this 2019 poll by the American Psychological Association resonate with you: “As the effects of climate change become more evident, more than half of U.S. adults (56%) say climate change is the most important issue facing society today, yet 4 in 10 have not made any changes in their behavior to reduce their contribution to climate change. While 7 in 10 say they wish there were more they could do to combat climate change, 51% of U.S. adults say they don’t know where to start.”

If you worry about the future facing your younger loved ones – children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. According to that same APA poll, “nearly half of those ages 18-34 (47%) say the stress they feel about climate change affects their daily lives.” Their daily lives, here and now.

If you long to connect with others who share your aspiration to effect “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” (as Charles Eisenstein’s book describes it). If you are eager to share ideas, to express your frustrations, to explore alternatives to overconsumption, or to learn new skills. If you believe that UUCA can be a model of mutual support, resilience, and inspiration.

Our leaders met EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman at May’s Green Team Summit.

If any of this describes you, we extend an enthusiastic invitation for you to join the Climate Action Team this fall.

Trust the wise counsel of 93 year-old scholar of Buddhism and general systems theory, Dr. Joanna Macy: “When we reach into our depths, we find that the pit is not bottomless. When people are able to tell the truth about what they feel, see, and know is happening to their world, a transformation occurs. They experience an increased determination to act and a renewed appetite for life. … It is enlivening to go with, rather than against, the flow of our deepest responses to the state of the world. We feel tremendous relief on realizing our solidarity with others.” This comes from her book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in with Unexpected Resilience and Creative Power, which several of our group’s members are studying with an online group right now.

Let’s start with basics about the Climate Action Team.

VISION: The Climate Action Team envisions a congregation that upholds respect for the interdependent web of all existence by fostering love of creation through the demonstrated commitment and responsible stewardship of Earth.

MISSION: The Climate Action Team will…

  • Engage UUCA members to participate on a personal, local, global, and spiritual level to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to champion environmental justice.
  • Educate the congregation on and provide opportunities for environmental activism, both individually and in collaboration with mission-aligned groups.
  • Advocate for eco-friendly decisions regarding UUCA facilities, operations, and programming.

VALUES

  • We are grounded in the UU 7th Principle – we uphold respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
  • We are grounded in UUCA’s Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, and Multiculturalism (ARAOMC) Resolution, striving for justice, equity and compassion in all human relations.
  • We are grounded in partnership and collective action. We know that individual choices are not enough; it is only through partnership and collective action that we can save our biosphere.

We toured Westrock’s recycling facility with nine other congregational green teams.

At our monthly meetings, we definitely do not sit around and fret about the fate of the world. We don’t have time for that. Here’s a sampling of our activity over the past year.

ADVOCACY: Our advocacy dynamic duo, Lizanne Moore and Bert Pearce, have kept us current on pressing issues and have provided useful research links and specific actions we can take to make an impact. We’ve focused recently on Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan and upcoming rate case hearings, the lawsuit over the state-wide election of Public Service Commission members, and safer coal ash disposal in the state.

EDUCATION: Our educator-in-chief, Laura Rose, coordinated an April education session on electric vehicles and green travel choices. She’s busy firming up details on a two-session program focused on reducing the carbon footprint of our homes, to be held online Oct. 18 and Oct. 24. Registration will open soon! Members from our group have participated in One Earth Sangha’s EcoSattva Training, The Work That Reconnects workshops, All We Can Save book circles, the Pachamama Alliance’s Game Changer Intensive, and the Climate Reality Leadership Corps’ Leaders Training. One of our members, Dr. Susan Perz, continues to produce environmental videos and educational materials for families.

ENGAGEMENT: Two new initiatives aim to increase congregational engagement. The first is our blog, Save & Savor the Earth, which launched in January and has published weekly posts authored by many of our members. Topics range from pollinators, hybrid electric vehicles, and reading recommendations to divestment, net zero buildings, and climate psychology. The other initiative is our member-to-member lending library, which boasts 60 contemporary and classic environmentally-themed books. Check out the list and then “check out” a book by contacting the book’s owner on Realm and arranging an exchange at an upcoming worship. Even better, schedule a coffee/tea date after you’ve read it to discuss your impressions when you’re ready to return the book. Or you can just return it at an upcoming worship and chat at social hour. 

We joined hundreds of others at the statehouse for an Earth Day Climate Action Now rally.

NETWORKING: We are an official “Green Team” through Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. As such, we join with other metro Atlanta congregations’ green teams at monthly roundtables to learn from experts and to share challenges, successes, and suggestions. Our team’s leaders participated in May’s Green Team Summit, where they joined EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman and Georgia Conservation Voters’ director Brionté McCorkle. In July, several of our members vanpooled with members of five other congregations to tour the Westrock Recycling Center in Marietta. We recently used our blog to highlight a comprehensive environmental action plan compiled by the local Earth Mamas group.

ACTIVISM: Our members attended a mass Climate Action Now rally at the statehouse in April and rallied this summer outside the offices of the Public Service Commission to promote changes to Georgia Power’s Integrated Resources Plan. We have successfully lobbied Project Phoenix for more sustainable systems and greater insulation for our new church facility, and we are currently establishing recycling and composting procedures to serve the congregation. Our team is part of the Faith Climate Justice Voter campaign, and thanks to the leadership of our FCJV captain, Lizanne Moore, we will be working to increase voter participation in the upcoming midterm elections.

FUNDING: Thanks to the commitment of its founder, Sue Certain, our team’s Carbon Offset Fund offers congregants the opportunity to symbolically offset their travels’ carbon emissions by donating to grantworthy projects that aim to reduce our campus’ carbon footprint. Members Julie Simon and Bert Pearce secured $120,000 in grant funding from Southface Energy Institute’s GoodUse Program, which allowed Project Phoenix to install efficient LED lighting throughout the campus as well as a super efficient all-electric Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heating and cooling system.

So the answer to this post’s initial question is: YES, it is the right time for you to join the Climate Action Team. The poet Mary Oliver knows you have an important role to play: “May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful.”

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We invite you to get to know us at our in-person Fall Equinox mini-retreat at the church on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 3:30 – 6:30 PM. To learn more, email Nicole Haines at hip2bveg@gmail.com or Jon Reese at reeseindecatur@gmail.com.

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