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

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