Now is an excellent time to meet with Green Team members, religious leaders, and others at your house of worship to brainstorm how you will make a difference for healthier communities and the Earth this year.
Consider these questions to guide your conversation:
Do you have a Green Team?
Many houses of worship are able to make some modest changes to their environmental impact without having a formal Green Team. However, having a dedicated group of people who meet regularly to specifically address Earth care at your faith community will have the greatest effect. A Green Team helps keep sustainability issues at the forefront and builds momentum for a bigger impact. If you already have a Green Team, think about building capacity. Who else from your faith community can you invite to incorporate their unique skills and passions to your team?
Do you have a Green Team coach?
Faith in Place staff are available to serve as a mentor to your group. They can help you create goals and connect you to programs and opportunities for Earth care in your area, and are available to attend your meetings and events as their availability allows. If you need a Green Team Coach, please contact the Outreach Director nearest to you or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What have you accomplished so far?
Take stock of previous projects to decide what you want to do next. If you are just starting out, celebrate the fact that you are engaging in this important work to make a positive impact.
What issues are you passionate about addressing this year?
You are more likely to have success with a project if you are feeling really engaged and excited about it. Are there any issue areas or Faith in Place programs you haven’t yet addressed? Maybe you are pros at recycling but haven’t yet done anything to address energy use or advocacy. Are there any easy projects or “low hanging fruit” you still haven’t tackled yet before moving on to more challenging ones?
In what areas do people need more education and awareness?
Brainstorm creative ways to help people understand what the issues are, why they should care as a person of faith, and what they can do to take action. From educational bulletin boards to film screenings to events and more, figure out what would work best in your context. Check out our interfaith food and water curricula as starting points.
How can you incorporate green into other aspects of faith life?
Are there ways you can integrate Earth care into worship or spiritual practices, community gatherings, and religious education?
What are your “dreaming big” goals and what can you start working on now to accomplish them?
Big projects like solar panel installation, major renovations for energy efficient retrofits, or starting a Congregation Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm all take time and patience to achieve. You can lay the groundwork now by setting the vision you want to work towards and planning small steps to get there.
What other faith communities in your area can you work with?
Dialogue with people of different faith traditions than your own is more important than ever to cultivate empathy and understanding. Uniting around something in common is a good place to start – remember that we all share the same land, water, and air! Reach out to other Houses of Worship, local clergy groups, ecumenical networks, and more to share ideas and learn from one another. Our staff can help you locate and connect with Houses of Worship near you who are already engaging in Earth care projects.
What are the problem areas where your faith community is getting stuck?
Is composting not getting off the ground as you hoped? Do you face a lack of support for an energy audit? How can you approach these challenges with new creativity and fresh energy? Contact our Outreach staff who can connect you with other faith communities that have faced similar challenges and share their solutions, or direct you to other resources that might be helpful.
After you’ve done the dreaming and brainstorming, it’s time to put your vision into action. Here are some tips for setting goals:
Set inspiring but realistic goals
There are many tools and acronyms out there to help you think through this, including the SMART Goals framework. The key is to dream big enough that you feel inspired, but not too big that you become overwhelmed and disappointed when you can’t reach your goals.
In order to measure your impact, you’ll need to have a baseline of your current activity. This may sound boring and tedious but will be helpful to celebrate how far you’ve come. You’ll be able to prove that your efforts are working when you can report impressive statistics, such as “I lost 8,840 Pounds on the Low Carbon Diet!”
Photo: Green Team Members at Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet discuss their goals for energy conservation at a Level 1 Energy Audit with Faith in Place
Break big goals into manageable steps
Think about what you can accomplish in six months, in two months, this week, etc. Consider dividing the year into quarters and tackling one project per quarter. Then...
Make a plan
Schedule regular meetings to check in on your progress on these goals, and delegate tasks so that people’s various talents and skills are best utilized.
Celebrate your accomplishments!
Don’t forget to have fun! Let people rejoice together in the good work that your faith community is doing. It will generate momentum for future activity and get more people excited about green efforts!