Monday, July 18, 2016


I want to say how grateful I am to have been a part of CCUU's Green Sanctuary Team since its inception in August, 2015.  It has been a privilege getting to know our congregation, and becoming acquainted with the environmental issues surrounding the Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans area.  I will miss CCUU very much, but I look forward to our family's next step in Colorado.  I'll be watching you from afar and look forward to hearing about your progress as you continue this journey.

Peace and Love to You,

Claire Lute

Brief minutes from our last meeting, 7/13/3016.

Alicia Cooke, Howard Mielke, Kyle Reidy, and Rev. Jim VanderWeele were present.

Howard discussed his participation in the NOLA Masterplan rewrite, addressing issues of lead exposure, changes in standards for the medical community, contractors, acknowledging that there is no margin of safety for lead exposure.  He will be sending a summary to the team about his efforts.

Claire added remaining team members to the blog as authors, and will make Alicia admin on the blog.

Rev. Jim will contact our webmaster to add THIS very blog to the ccuu website

We had further discussion on the formal process of UUA Green Sanctuary candidacy.

Claire will give team Karen Brammer's contact information.

-TEAM needs to check their email for new links to google drive documents pertaining to candidacy application.  Claire will resend them, and will check to ensure that the initial environmental assessment questions are answered as fully as possible.

Alicia Cooke completed work on our congregational survey!  The link is here: and was also sent to the congregation via email.

Alicia will be discussing the "launch" of the survey with the congregation on 7/24.
She-or Rev. Jim-  will also write a brief blurb for the newsletter

Team decided to offer Our Place in the Web of Life curriculum in the Fall of 2016. UU Ministry for Earth introductory video for OPITWOL will be shown to the congregation before offering the curriculum, and can be found here:

Howard offered to be our new contact person for the UUA, and will be put in touch with Karen Brammer.  Claire Lute will send a final update as "chair," and will pass along Howard's information.

Electric bills for past 18-24 months should be documented
       Rev. Jim- call Jeff
       Howard- get copies of monthly solar production

Moving forward, team will find community leaders with whom to discuss environmental justice.
     Monique Hardin
     Andreas Hoffman

Rev. Jim will put into motion our rain barrel irrigation system.  We have barrels, the time is NOW to begin utilizing them.  Rev. Jim addressed concerns about water metering, gauges (and assured the team that the barrels can indeed be used like any other tank water source).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Report for June's Congregational Meeting

Our Green Sanctuary Team completed an annual report for our June congregational meeting. Unfortunately, we were unable to have it included in Sunday's meeting, so we are sharing here for all to see:

May 27, 2016

Green Sanctuary Team Report and Summary
Since gaining Board approval to meet and pursue Green Sanctuary accreditation, the Green Sanctuary Team (GST) has met monthly.  We have had exactly one meeting with every member in attendance, and our membership is changing dramatically with the end of Sky Stewart’s internship and Laura Miller’s seasonal departure.  We will be seeking congregational help as we prepare to move forward with projects which will be laid out in our Action Plan (the series of twelve projects we will complete as candidates for accreditation). It has been a rewarding challenge to work toward completion of the UUA’s required congregational assessment, as we wanted an accurate, in-depth reflection of our congregation’s focus in the areas of Worship and Celebration, Religious Education, Environmental Justice, and Sustainable Living (as outlined by the UUA).  Simply becoming acquainted with the requirements of assessment, candidacy, and the general process of GS accreditation was the focus of our first few meetings.
At our initial meeting, November 4, 2015, with Howard, Rev. Jim, Alicia, and myself present, we were not yet a committee, but a group of interested attendees.  We participated in a conference call with Rev. Karen Brammer, UUA Green Sanctuary Program Manager, to become acquainted with the accreditation process.  The group found wonderful examples of other congregations’ accreditation processes, and Howard Mielke modified a powerpoint presentation, originally given by UUCR of Rockville, MD,  for CCUU’s introduction to Green Sanctuary work. On November 17, 2015, Claire Lute presented an introduction to the UUA Green Sanctuary program to the Board, utilizing the aforementioned powerpoint.  The Board took an immediate vote and approved our pursuit that evening.
At our December 17th, 2015 meeting, we had more interested people in attendance, including Rev. Jim, Claire Lute, Alicia Cooke, Sky Stewart, Laura Miller, and Howard Mielke.  We continued to make members familiar with the general UUA GS accreditation process and began initial discussion of environmental assessment, developing a possible webpage, and contacting the UUA to receive an official coach/mentor for the Green Sanctuary program. We decided to eventually offer “Our Place in the Web of Life” curriculum as an intergenerational Religious Education opportunity.
At our January 28th, 2016 meeting, only Alicia Cooke and Claire Lute were in attendance.  Initial congregational assessment questions were answered, and a document was created for cooperative editing by the team.
In February, we did not meet, as January’s meeting was late in the month, and our members could not find a time to have enough people in attendance to have group discussion.  Claire Lute developed a Green Sanctuary blog, .
March 16th, 2016, our team met and had Kyle Reidy, Claire Lute, Laura Miller, Rev. Jim, and Alicia Cooke in attendance.  We were able to make major headway on assessments after briefing Kyle on the UUA accreditation process.  Each area of congregational assessment was assigned to team members, with a goal of 4/15 for completion.   We confirmed the desire to offer Our Place in the Web of Life curriculum in Spring, 2017.  Alicia Cooke began developing a personal assessment survey for completion by members of the congregation.
April 13th was a brainstorming meeting.  It was decided that Alicia Cooke would speak about the Green Sanctuary process at our annual GNOUU retreat on 4/17.  Laura Miller, Rev. Jim VanderWeele, Howard Mielke, Kyle Reidy, Alicia Cooke, and Claire Lute were present.   Rev. Jim was slated to check with Jeff Cantin about Solar panel functionality, efficiency, and accurate monitoring.  He was to gather ater Bills for a year for us to assess our consumption and then send scanned/PDF versions to Claire for GS documentation. He was to consider having Andreas from Green Light NOLA come to assess lighting needs/efficiency.  He was also to determine what is necessary to petition for restoring CCUU as a community polling place, contacting Susan Guidry for more information.
Claire Lute was to obtain East Bank NOLA Water quality report, research reliability of report
update our blog, and send blog info to be printed in bulletin. She was also to begin the formal application for GS candidacy utilizing what we have already completed in the assessment phase.
Howard Mielke was set to contact Adrienne Katner, addressing New Orleans water samples, and to send any other energy information to Claire Lute for GS documentation purposes. Alicia Cooke was set to continue developing our congregational survey, and Kyle Reidy was to investigate a federal seed program.
We had our most recent meeting on May 18, 2016 with Rev. Jim VanderWeele, Alicia Cooke, Claire Lute, and Kyle Reidy in attendance.  Certainly this was our most productive meeting to date.  We began discussing possible projects for our Action Plan, and we were able to assign specific duties to members again to address current building concerns.  Rev. Jim VanderWeele agreed to address termites, Alicia Cooke will contact Monique Verdin to explore ways CCUU and the United Houma Nation can partner with an eye toward environmental justice.  Hopefully, this will lead to a presentation/performance and Second Sunday collection for our congregation in 2017.  She will also contact different local environmental activist groups about transportation needs.  Kyle Reidy will contact Bill Fernandez about church garden and possibly helping to host a gardening session with interested members of the congregation in the near future.  Claire Lute will be discussing intergenerational environmental education offerings with Cynthia Ramirez, continuing the GS application, and developing a brief talk for the congregation to be presented on 6/7/2016. She will also continue updating the blog, and will contact CCUU’s webmaster to include a link to the blog on the CCUU website for easy access for the whole congregation.
Concrete progress has been made in our efforts.  Although our process has thus far involved a surfeit of emails, phone calls, and planning, physical changes are actually taking place.  Super-efficient LED Lights have now replaced incandescent bulbs in the front of the sanctuary, thanks to a generous donation from Wilma Longstreet and installation help from Howard Mielke.  Alicia Cooke has completed a congregational survey to assess personal conservation and consumption habits, which will be made accessible to the congregation within the next two weeks.  We have also initiated compost and recycling education at coffee hour, which will be ongoing and improving in the coming months.  Within the next month, we plan to begin replacing all disposable napkins, plates, and utensils with reusable items in the kitchen at CCUU.  Howard Mielke will be working with us to develop a home/neighborhood soil lead testing program. We are excited to move forward as we develop our Action Plan.  We will seek congregational involvement and Board approval as we choose projects and then aim to submit our formal application for Green Sanctuary candidacy to the UUA, hopefully by July, 2016.

Respectfully Submitted,
Claire Lute, Green Sanctuary Team Chair

Friday, May 27, 2016

Our May Meeting Update!

We have been busy planning!  We will ALL miss Sky Stewart as he moves on from Internship at CCUU. And we will certainly miss Laura Miller as she leaves us for Virginia, we'll gladly welcome her back in the Winter! Here is a list of Actionable Items from our 5/18 Meeting- you can see what we'll be doing in the coming month:

Alicia -Design congregational survey
-Contact Monique about possibility of future performance/presentation on Houma Nation/Shell/Wetlands/Native lands (2017)
-Contact/explore activist transportation needs

Rev. Jim- Termite control

Claire- Secure funds for Our Place in the Web of Life curriculum ($50 donation to UUA)
-Continue formal application for GS Candidacy
-Prepare brief congregational talk for Sunday, 5/29 *REVISED* TO 6/7!
-Contact Cynthia Ramirez about intergenerational environmental education offering (copy Rev. Jim)

Kyle- Contact Bill Fernandez about gardening, interest in seeds/helping with plant on a garden education day

Possible Projects for Action Plan (as discussed, now categorized)

Environmental Justice
-Lead Testing and Remediation
-Form action committee- interested individuals write/call/protest about LEAD (soil and water), OFFSHORE DRILLING, CLIMATE CHANGE/FOSSIL
-Transportation/Gas Collective for activist endeavors (protests, events, etc).

Worship and Celebration
-Monique from Houma Nation Poetry/presentation/Special Collection (2017)
-Commissioned Music
-Benefit concerts for environmental causes, perhaps twice per year?

Religious Education
-Our Place in the Web of Life course offering (Spring 2017)
-Intergenerational Education opportunity

Sustainable Living
-Conservation Education sessions (Chris Lute?)
-Offer garden day- plants/seeds/pots/education
-Birdhouses for kids?
-CCUU Building Improvements
-Water fountains
-Solar Metering
-Gardens- food, butterfly
-Sustainable Coffee Hour
-Fair Trade coffee/tea
-Cloth napkins, reusable silverware, etc.
-Make recycling more VISIBLE- possibly design chart of what can be recycled
-Compost acceptable paper/food waste (again with visual!)
-Cloth towels in restrooms

April 13, 2016- Green Sanctuary Meeting

At April's meeting, we were quite productive. First, I want to thank Alicia for her wonderful address to everyone in attendance at the GNOUU Retreat on Sunday. She eloquently stated the mission of the Green Sanctuary program, and emphasized the importance of environmental justice work within the UUA's framework. She stressed that our work in this process may be lengthy, and how we as individuals will need to work even harder- that the changes we all must make will require growth, effort, and sacrifice. She nailed it!

In leiu of formal minutes, I have a rundown of important points from our 4/13 meeting.

Here's you go:

Actionable Items:

EVERYONE: Continue to flesh out your sections of the questionnaire. At our next meeting, we WILL be ready to figure out projects for our Action Plan.


Check with Jeff Cantin about Solar- panel- functionality, efficiency, accurate monitoring
Water Bills for a year- assess our consumption. Send scanned/PDF versions to Claire for GS documentation.
Possibly have Andreas from Green Light NOLA come to assess lights
Determine what is necessary to petition for restoring CCUU as a community polling place. Contact Susan Guidry


Obtain East Bank NOLA Water quality report, research reliability of report
Update our blog, send blog info to be printed in bulletin.
Begin GS Application for Candidacy


Contact Adrienne Katner- addressing water samples
Send Claire PDFS of energy bills for GS documentation.
FAMILIES of CONGREGATION- TEST YOUR HOME SOIL! Test your local playground! <--Should we announce this on a Sunday soon? Address taking proper samples in the community?


Add to survey questions: Do you have home sprinklers? Do they run after a rain?


Checking on govt. seed program- What seeds are available, for whom, and from what sources?

Also discussed:

Possible Ideas Composting at CCUU. Possibly becoming a site for community compost and community garden. Desire to possibly obtain rainwater barrels

Possibly get involved with the following:

Alliance for Affordable Energy – Casey DeMoss

Gulf South Rising

Having members of the congregation commit to calling/writing legislators about pressing environmental issues. We discussed having an environmental-political action initiative within the congregation.

Thank you so much!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Green Action Team meeting, 3/16/2016

Our team met tonight at CCUU.  Here are our minutes:

We opened with an overview of the Green Sanctuary accreditation process for new meeting attendees.

It was decided that Alicia will revamp the document which contains our assessment questions so that it is able to be edited in real-time by members of our team (thank you, Alicia).

Our team has broken the congregational assessment into manageable sections, and members will be in charge as follows: 

Alicia: Environmental Justice
Howard and Rev. Jim: Sustainable Living
Laura: Community Involvement
Claire and Kyle: Worship and Celebration and RE

The team will also send potential personal survey questions to Alicia, who will be developing and formatting a personal survey for the congregation to complete.  

We set a goal of completing the assessment phase by APRIL 15th! 

Also, it was decided that we will offer Our Place in the Web of Life as a course in early 2017.  

Announcement about our progress will be made on Sunday, 3/20 at the church service.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Here's a brief summary of what we're doing here!

Firstly,Why Become a Green Sanctuary?

The Green Sanctuary Program is a natural growth based in the 7th Principal: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.  Please see the UUA Green Sanctuary Program page to learn a bit more:

CCUU began working toward Green Sanctuary accreditation in Fall of 2015.  A Green Action Team was formed by a few interested members of the congregation, and now includes Rev. Jim VanderWeele, Alicia Cooke, Claire Lute, Howard Mielke, Laura Miller,  and Sky Stewart.  Our team began meeting in December, 2015, after receiving approval from the Board to pursue accreditation.  We have only just begun our Congregational Assessment to gain a deeper understanding of our members' environmental impacts and action.

In the next few weeks, our team will meet again, and we will be involving the congregation in a personal survey of environmental actions (participation will be anonymous- we want to know what are members are doing, but we don't need your identity!)

We will continue to update the congregation on our progress on this blog.  We are excited to complete the assessment phase and to begin involving the whole congregation and wider community in more social and environmental action endeavors- through our Action Plan.

Follow our journey, and get ready to join our team as we continue to work toward accreditation and a greener, more just community.