Meets first Wednesdays, 7:30-9 p.m. Generally, an in-person meeting is held every other month in the Social Hall. On the other months, meetings are held via Zoom. Or dial in to 1-646-876-9923 or 1-669-900-6833. Meeting ID: 462 110 433. Contact Eric Goplerud, Loretta Rowe or Bob Root for information or to be added to the group’s email list.
UUCF’s Act for Climate Today! (ACT!), formerly Climate Action Group, was formed in 2013 by UUCF members concerned about the alarming growth of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere – the consequences of global warming, climate change and related climate justice issues. ACT! advocates for ways to respond to the human-caused climate crisis challenging all life forms on Earth.
ACT! initiatives and links
- Paris Pledge Initiative
- UUCF Resolution on Climate Change
- Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
- Carbon Footprint Game
- Plastic bag recycling guide
ACT! goals for the next 5 years
- Act from personal commitment to be gentle to the earth and to each other.
- As a congregation, cut the carbon footprint and practice spiritual values of compassion for all life.
- In Fairfax, VA, and the nation, live in a low-carbon world that supports healthy relationships between all people and with all of nature.
Viewing climate change as a moral issue, ACT! authored the UUCF Congregational Resolution on Climate Change, which UUCF members overwhelmingly approved in. Grounded in the UU 7th Principle, it guides ACT! and UUCF in responses to climate change and climate-justice-related issues.
For the 2022-23 congregational year, ACT! is planning two major projects as well as continuing its work with the Garden Gnomes.
Climate and UU Principles
With the escalating climate emergency and its intersection with just about every justice issue, it is more important than ever to turn to the UU Principles and values for clarity and direction. Consequently, this coming year, ACT! is planning on centering its climate work on each of the 8 UU Principles. Each presentation or workshop will relate ACT!’s climate action to one or more UU Principle, suggesting ways to more fully embody these guiding values. Help in organizing and promoting these presentations would be greatly welcomed. To volunteer, please contact Eric Goplerud.
Compassion and Climate Campaign
With the increased recognition of the role animal agriculture plays in the climate crisis, as well as its multifaceted social justice impact, for the next 8 months, ACT! is leading a “Compassion and Climate Campaign” and will offer a number of educational and cultural events to deepen awareness of the ethical and environmental impact of industrial animal agriculture. Planned activities include a “Strands of Compassion” concert/presentation on Nov. 5, 2022, visits to local animal sanctuaries, inspirational talks by UU and spiritual leaders (Tara Brach on Mar. 15 2023), plant-based meals, cooking lessons and more. This campaign will engage the congregation and include open discussions around UUCF possibly adopting a food policy for official congregational meals, reflecting a commitment to the 7th Principle. If you are interested in helping with this campaign, please contact Loretta Rowe.
Garden Gnomes – Biodiversity
In 2021, the Garden Gnomes officially joined ACT! The Garden Gnomes are members and friends of UUCF who volunteer on campus almost every month. They plant and maintain native flowers, trees and shrubs, creating a strikingly attractive landscape abuzz with pollinators and other insects essential for nourishing our wildlife. They also remove invasive plants that threaten the native habitat and work to educate members and visitors about these campus treasures. If you would like to join this vital work, please contact Bob Root.
ACT! recent and continuing program focus
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference resulted in an agreement that has been ratified by more than 110 countries. The agreement calls for reducing GHG emissions 50% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. In late 2015, ACT! launched the UUCF Paris Pledge Initiative, which is UUCF’s way of supporting the Paris Climate Agreement within our congregation.
ACT! and plastic pollution
- In spring 2019, UUCF, two other congregations and two civic organizations recycled 752 pounds of single use plastic bags. We donated a bench made of recycled plastic bags to Luther Jackson Middle School. The Fairfax County School Board congratulated CAG at its June 2019 meeting and recommended schools and PTSAs replicate the program. In spring 2020, UUCF organized a second plastic bag recycling program. In 2 months, before the COVID shutdown, UUCF recycled over 500 pounds. The Religious Exploration program was strongly engaged. The bench from Trex, made from UUCF’s recycled plastics, was donated to the Shepherds Center, a program serving senior adults in the community.
- ACT! developed a plastic bag recycling toolkit and shared it widely. Other congregations and schools use it for their own campaigns. The group met with managers of regional grocery stores to explore ways to discourage shoppers from using plastic bags and encouraging them to bring reusable shopping bags. ACT! also sponsored a field trip to the Trex factory, to see how plastic bags are recycled into plastic decking and benches.
- ACT! sponsored personal pledges to cut plastic use and collected signatures to state elected officials to ban or put a fee on single use plastic bags. In April 2020, then-Governor Northam signed legislation putting a $.05 fee on plastic bags. With more than 30 others, UUCF members testified before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in support of local implementation of the tax. Fairfax County was the first jurisdiction to implement the tax in January 2022.
Diet and climate change
- Sponsored a “taste-off” at the annual fall Ingathering picnic, sharing Beyond Beef and homemade vegan sliders. Developed and shared information on diet and climate, composting, plant-based diets.
- Convened a series of educational events accompanied by vegan meals on the theme “Saving the Planet One Forkful at a Time.” Each event drew 50 or more participants of all ages. Participants report making changes in personal diet choices.
- Movie “A prayer for compassion” and a discussion with Victoria Moran, an author of books on spirituality and veganism and host of Main Street Vegan.
- Vanita Rahman from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on the health benefits of plant-based diets.
- Rahman on the interplay between the foods we eat and climate change and steps we can take to minimize our carbon footprint.
- Cory Suter on urban farming, edible landscaping and food.
- Three leaders of local food bank and feeding programs: Rev. Karen Rasmussen from No Child Goes Hungry, Lisa Whetzel from Britepaths and Cory Suter, Chair of the Fairfax Food Council’s Urban Agriculture Workgroup spoke about problems they are seeing during the pandemic and how we can do better in the next crisis.
- Juanita Cabrera Lopez, director of the International Mayan League, on intersection of environmental destruction of Indigenous lands for industrial agriculture, immigration to the US, and exploitation of immigrants in US food production and distribution. A food raiser to support the Mayan League’s foodbank serving undocumented people was held.
- Other diet and climate actions: for the UUCF Auction, ACT! members offered a plant-based diner. At UUCF Auction, lots of vegan and vegetarian food was offered. ACT!’s vegan and vegetarian cookbook is available online.
- Sponsored monthly Wednesday evening webinars in 2022:
- Changing the world for animals: Cruelty of industrial animal farming with Will Lowrey
- Act of compassion: Re-visioning our relationship to animals and food with Dr. Joanna Kong
- Food as medicine with Ted Barnett.
Reducing waste, cleaning up the environment
- Adopt-a-Highway. Through VDOT, UUCF adopted Hunter Mill Road between Vale and Maple Ave., and partnered with the Oakton LDS church to clean up the road’s shoulders.
- Cleanup Day in April. CAG organized 20 volunteers to clean up trash in parks, streams and roads.
- On the MLK Weekend of Service, CAG organized and trained 22 volunteers to do energy efficiency and weatherization repairs in four community residences adults with mental illnesses. Virginia Green Baggers taught volunteers at UUCF how to sew reusable bags to replace and hopefully reduce the use of single use plastic bags.
- Sponsored Wednesday evening webinar: Zero waste opportunities in NOVA. Scott MacDonald, recycling manager, Prince William County.
- Sponsored webinar on zero waste churches, led by Laudato Si’ members of St John Neumann Catholic Community.
Paris Pledge to cut congregational greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030 through energy efficiency
Congregational Greenhouse Gases (GHG) actually increased in 2019, even though single pane windows were replaced. ACT! explored replacing and upgrading the campus’ 18 HVAC systems and insulation throughout our facilities. Leaders met with potential contractors and examined innovative financing (C-PACE). ACT! and UUCF Property Stewardship worked to get a detailed energy audit in anticipation of replacing HVAC and upgrading insulation on campus. The UUCF Endowment Fund provided funds to pay for the energy audit. As a result of these efforts, ACT!:
- Secured a $5,000 grant from Scott Electric Foundation to cover some costs of installing LEDs. This is in addition to $5,000 grant from Fairfax County for the LED upgrades.
- Sponsored two Wednesday evening webinars: “Building energy efficiency” with Eric Goplerud, Susan Stillman and State Senator Jennifer Boysko, and “Net zero or bust: getting to green at UUCF: Revisioning the congregation’s relationship to power,” with Dave Anderson and Paul Atelsek.
Working with youth
- Joined the Earth Day Network as a participating congregation. Planned to paint parachutes for the planet and carrying them as banners at Earth Day rallies but Covid happened. Instead, worked with RE to encourage children to make banners with rainbows and inspiring messages and hanging them on porches and balconies.
- Promoted plant-based diet programs for RE families, including the “Saving the Planet” series and firsthand cooking demonstration
- Sponsored webinar: Youth climate leadership: Partnering across generations. Let by three high school and college youth leaders.
- Webinar: Climate change and family and community health, with speakers Dr. Neelu Tummala and Karen Campblin.
Civic engagement and social justice action
- UU the VOTE: Vote Climate. ACT! members are participating in the UU the VOTE to encourage voters to consider climate change as they vote in the fall. UUCF members sent 10,000 voter registration reminders and get-out-the-vote post cards and letters in 2020.
- Sponsored Wednesday evening webinar: Virginia and national climate legislation, featuring VA delegate Mark Keam, FACS advocacy lead Scott Peterson, and UUSJ board member David Shilton.
- CAG members actively participate in the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) and promote involvement in FACS campaigns and events.