Environmental and Social Justice Blog
The Green Machine
The UUBRidge Environment and Social Justice committee (ESJ for short) is launching this web page and blog to focus on what we can do about climate change and social injustice. Through our worship services, celebrations, religious education, and our day-to-day activities, all of us working together can be the “Green Machine!”
One of the goals of UUBRidge is to be accredited by the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Green Sanctuary Congregation (www.uua.org/environment/sanctuary). This page will provide updates on progress toward that goal — working with people impacted by climate change and injustice, providing updates on issues and legislation related to energy and the environment, and providing information from organizations working toward climate justice, social justice, and sustainability. We also plan future blog posts on simplicity, green living, and other topics.
Current ESJ Projects and Other Updates
Addressing Food Insecurity
While restrictions due to the coronavirus have complicated in-person efforts, work on food security continues. ESJ members are growing vegetable plants for container gardens and produce to distribute at local food pantries, adding local capacity to the fresh produce currently trucked to Page and Rappahannock Counties from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in Winchester. The first plants and seeds were delivered in May. Your help is welcome! Contact Ellie Clark, Lisa McQuail, or Will Daniels for information.
Earlier this year, a greenhouse donated by Lisa McQuail was dedicated at the West Luray Recreation Center, with Rev. Russ Savage and other UUBRidge members in attendance. A planning meeting was also held, after which children helped plant seeds in starter packs to take home. In a separate project, ESJ members have been involved in planning a community garden, working with Valley Health and other groups to benefit underserved people in Page County.
Making Our Voices Heard
In January, Vernon Gras participated in Lobby Day in Richmond, supporting legislation for clean energy and environmental justice. He met with staff of the Speaker of the House and of the state senator from Fairfax City. For updates on energy and climate issues and what is happening at the state and federal levels, we recommend subscribing to the Power for the People VA blog by Ivy Main.
UUBridge Board member Clyde Humphrey volunteered on an advisory committee to update the Page County Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in April. It includes language on the need for energy management and renewable energy, and also on policies regarding those needs. Clyde continues to work with the Planning Commission regarding a solar ordinance.
In March, more than 100 people attended a public meeting in Page County on renewing an application for a wastewater discharge permit that allowed up to one million gallons of treated wastewater a day to be released into the Shenandoah River. The permit originally was granted to a poultry-processing plant on the site. The property is now a recycling business. The current owner, although not discharging wastewater, had continued to renew the permit. Under a legal nutrient exchange program, he had sold the discharge rights to a poultry processor located in another county. Clyde Humphrey was one of many who spoke passionately about pollution concerns and not increasing the nutrient load in the river. The owner withdrew the application within days of the meeting.
Adopt- A-Highway in Rappahannock and Page Counties
Ellie Clark has adopted Tiger Valley Road in Rappahannock County, and she and Jay Allen cleaned up trash there in February. They were joined on a cleanup effort in April by several UUBRidge members and friends. The following week, the “Green Machine” team cleaned Will and Sue Daniels’ road section in Page County. Aluminum and metal cans, plastic containers, and glass bottles were removed from the waste stream for recycling.
The COVID-19 pandemic, with the need to stay at home and away from others as much as possible, has put many activities on hold. Despite physical distancing, we can keep in touch with others, learn about issues, contact legislators, and do our best to stay healthy and active. We have provided several links in this issue that we hope will be of interest. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Let’s keep each other posted!