SJU Green Team

The Green Team of St. John United Lutheran Church (SJU) expresses our congregation’s commitment to honor and care for God’s created world.


CURRENT PROJECT:
We are working with the Seattle Trees for Neighborhoods Program to plant street trees along the north and east sides of the property. The increased urban tree canopy will capture carbon and minimize the urban heat island effect. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange.


Green Team Mission

  • Identify and implement actions to move St. John United to net-zero-emissions status.
  • Our actions are based on the understanding that the Biblical command of “dominion” in relation to the Earth means responsible stewardship of this sacred planet.
  • The Green Team deeply values ongoing, active collaboration with SJU’s congregation and members of the wider community, including other religious institutions and community groups. Please join us!

How we work
We use community broad-based organizing principles presented by Sound Alliance and the Organizing for Mission Network of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) to include as many participants as possible in decision-making. We extend our gratitude to Earth Ministry/WAIPL staff who guided our process and certified us as a Greening Congregation.

Goals
Our goals are outlined in our Climate Action Plan, created in collaboration with the excellent consulting firm ArchEcology.

Earth Day Video, created by the SJU Green Team

Projects
Engaging neighbors and greening the landscape have been vital to the mission of SJU ever since we established a community garden on the underused parking strip to the west of our building 20 years ago. 

We are excited about the multitude of exciting and rewarding projects that are outlined in the Climate Action Plan – expanding the community gardening space, insulating our 1950’s building, reducing fossil fuel use, and planting street trees in our neighborhood, to name a few.  Our goal with all of these projects remains the same: advancing climate change participation, getting to net carbon zero, energizing and including neighbors and community.

CURRENT PROJECTS

  • Working with Seattle Trees for Neighborhoods Program to plant street trees along the north and east sides of the property to increase the urban tree canopy to capture carbon and cut down on the effects of urban heat island. 
  • Decreasing paved surfaces by expanding our community garden space into the parking lot

FUTURE PROJECTS: 

  • Building Based Projects: weatherization, efficiencies in insulation, lighting, water, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
  • Operations-based Projects: establish environmentally preferable purchasing building use policies 
  • Site based projects: rainwater management (rain gardens, cisterns), water and irrigation efficiency, continue to increase pervious, non-paved spaces and expand gardens
  • Community Engagement Projects: climate change advocacy, voluntary action campaigns such as Climate Action Pledges
  • Solar Panels, Electric Vehicle charging stations
  • Meeting EnviroStar requirements

Events
SJU is in the middle of an active and vibrant neighborhood on Phinney Ridge. Our vision is to become a hub for people to come together to learn, brainstorm, and share their passions around environmental issues and activities. As we learn and gather together, we form bonds that strengthen our community and grow our people power.

PAST EVENTS:

  • Making bee/insect habitats
  • Making beeswax wraps
  • Cider Pressing

POTENTIAL FUTURE EVENTS

  • Hosting Advocacy and Waste Reduction Events
  • Vegan Food Fairs
  • Fall Canning Workshops
  • Beer Brewing Events
  • Building a Seed Library

Partnerships
Many folks have been working long and hard on these issues of environmental work and community organizing. SJU is grateful to partner with and learn from these dedicated organizations:

  • Earth Ministry 
    Earth Ministry envisions a just and sustainable future in which people of all spiritual traditions fully embrace their faith’s call to environmental stewardship. Earth Ministry transforms faith into action for the well-being of communities and the environment. We organize people of faith to advocate for strong environmental policies and provide strategic guidance to religious communities working toward environmental justice.
  • ArchEcology 
    ArchEcology is a woman-owned architectural consulting firm with experience in design, engineering and construction. Passion for sustainability, combined with knowledge of the design and construction industry, provides practical, cost-effective, sustainable strategies that align with traditional development goals.
  • Sound Alliance 
    Sound Alliance is an alliance of faith, labor, health education and community organizations dedicated to building a base of everyday civic leaders to effectively stand for change they want to see in their communities.
  • Organizing for Mission Network
    The Organizing for Mission Cohort is a community of practitioners who are using the arts and skills of community organizing to develop and redevelop gospel-centric communities that act for the sake of the world. Our work includes working with a base of people to identify concerns within a community, research innovative solutions, and build power towards creating systemic change. We are rooted in neighborhoods, see ourselves as accountable to people before programs, and are working together to sharpen our analysis of the social/economic/political factors affecting our communities. This group has made an explicit commitment to include participants who come from communities often underrepresented in the life of the church (i.e. low-income, people of color, immigrant communities etc) in order to give life and active participation to the Organizing for Mission Cohort.

Resources
We have been lucky to receive the help of educated and experienced professionals. We would like to especially thank the following people for their support and guidance:

Get Involved
You, your family, friends, and neighbors are welcome to join us on climate action projects! If you are part of another community we would like to connect with you to explore mutual interests and concerns for the common good. Message SJU on Facebook or contact Victoria, our Director of Community Engagement, to get connected at victoria@stjohnunited.org.

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