Climate Protection Committee recognizes Sustainability Heroes

By Cynthia Pruitt and Hank Landau | Nov 07, 2016
Photo by: EUUC Stephen Ernst, in yellow, participates in a march in Anacortes during a walk to support the Swinish tribe in its quest to block a rail spur on their land. It was part of a worldwide day of action called Break Free.

Climate Protection Committee recognizes Sustainability Heroes


Editor’s note: Each year, the Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s Climate Protection Committee selects one or more organizations deserving recognition as Sustainability Heroes. This year, the committee selected the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

Right from the start, Gayle Leberg and Stephen Ernst made it clear that the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation had overwhelmingly voted to enact a congregational stand on global warming.

Congregation members Leberg and Ernst are committed to implementing this stand and reduce the congregation’s production of heat-trapping gases.

That work has started with several building improvements. These improvements include replacing existing windows in the 70-year-old building with double-paned ones. And as a result of an energy audit, they replaced their ceiling floodlights with compact fluorescent light (CFL).

They have also installed a high-efficiency furnace zoned to distribute temperature control to the right place at the right time with minimal energy spent heating and cooling unused spaces. They have also installed a bike rack. In the future they hope to mount solar panels on the roof.

Leberg and Ernst are members of the church’s Peace and Justice Committee, which leads its sustainability efforts. The committee has initiated several projects over a period of several years that are aimed at raising the congregation’s consciousness including:

• Placing a highly visible chart in a way that encourages all members to calculate their carbon footprint, and then note it on the chart. Nearby, a poster shows changes that members can make in their household to reduce that footprint. Each person was asked to put a dot on the changes they had completed, thereby showing the collective efforts of the congregation.

• Providing information to the congregation on the types of food that would contribute to reducing their carbon footprint.

• Providing a leadership role in both of the events put on by IAC, “Prayers for Our Planet,” and “Lift Up Our Voices For the Planet.” Gayle and Stephen both told of being influenced by the coming together of the Interfaith Action Committee (IAC) in Edmonds.

• Testifying about the negative carbon footprint of the proposed oil terminal at Cherry Point in Bellingham. To deepen the impact of their testimony, they provided key points of their testimony to the congregation and encouraged others to pick some of those points to base letters of opposition on.

Several other efforts influenced how the congregation thought about global warming. One was a workshop on Joanna Macy’s book, “Active Hope.” Another was a book group’s study of Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything.”

Both Leberg and Ernst said that they feel a responsibility to share the values of sustainability with the broader Edmonds community including the larger faith community. They explained their view that global warming is a moral issue, using slavery in comparison. Faith institutions/churches are uniquely qualified to address moral issues.

Doing what the church can do to reduce its carbon footprint is “walking their talk.” In addition, they are saving money. They would definitely recommend that others explore similar efforts.

Cynthia Pruitt and Hank Landau are members of the Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s Climate Protection Committee.


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