Earth Day 2009: Building Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice was the theme of UU Ministry for Earth’s second annual Earth Day Resources. As Unitarian Universalists we are called to articulate the interface between our understanding of our place in the natural world and the daunting political, social, and economic issues of our time. We call this interface Environmental Justice, a bridge between Nature and Society which pursues simultaneously the protection of natural systems and the ecological health of human communities, especially poor communities, people of color, and Indigenous peoples.

With generous support from the UU Funding Program, UUMFE created the following resources to help you build Earth Justice in your congregation.

Tools for Learning

Take Action

The actions below were developed in collaboration with the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy and Witness and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. You can also download a PDF version.

I. Build a just and green economy

UUMFE has chosen to focus our actions on creating green jobs as a means of addressing both climate change and environmental justice. In collaboration with the UUA Washington Office of Advocacy and Witness, we ask that you consider the following actions:

  • Show the DVD of Van Jones’ 2008 General Assembly Ware Lecture in your congregation. Thanks to a grant from the UU Funding Program, this DVD is available to you at a 50% discount price of $10 if you order as between now and April 30, 2009. The DVD comes with a set of discussion questions.
  • Ask your local government to take the Green Jobs Pledge. Organize the members of your congregation deliver a petition to the leader(s) of your local government to sign the Local Government Green Jobs Pledge being sponsored by Green For All, The Center for American Progress, the Apollo Alliance, and ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. (Pledge text available at
  • Host a Solutions Salon. Using the guide produced by Green For All, you can host a Solutions Salon, which generally is a 2-3 hour event bringing together 50-300 people from a community to talk about innovative solutions for an inclusive green economy. The event includes a panel discussion and/or keynote presentation, some time to break out into smaller topic groups or simply turn to your neighbor and share thoughts on local solutions, and a cultural performance like music, poetry, or dance. A Solutions Salon has a clear purpose such as: launching a new green jobs network, bringing people together to support an important initiative, or discussing different emerging opportunities for the community. (Solutions Salon guidelines available at

II. The human right to water: The water crisis and climate change

The global water crisis – the product of shifting and competing political and economic interests, depletion from environmental contamination, climate change, over-extraction, and increasing population – is worsening.

As Unitarian Universalists, we recognize the urgent need to respond. Environmental justice is the human affirmation of our place within the interdependent web of all existence. Environmental justice is the practice of simultaneously protecting natural systems and the ecological health of human communities, especially low-income communities, people of color, and Indigenous peoples. We must act from a place of understanding and commitment to human rights as a framework.

More people are losing their access to clean, affordable water in the United States and overseas around the world, and too often the victims are low-income families, women, and racial and ethnic minorities. Acting locally in the United States helps to strengthen the international effort to implement the human right to water and protect our neighbors’ access to safe, sufficient, affordable water for their daily human needs. President Barack Obama in his inaugural address lifted up the need to ensure access to safe water – we can act to make his and our hopes a reality.

  • Hold a house party and show The Water Front or host a viewing in your congregation. Learn how a citizen’s movement in Highland Park, Michigan, mobilized for a human right to water.
  • Integrate the Water Justice Taizé Ritual into a service to uplift the need to care for water and care about who has access to water.
  • Ask your elected officials in Washington, DC, to fully fund the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act this year – and make sure that money funds projects for low-income communities!
  • Hold a discussion group in your congregation and community and do UUSC’s Water Justice Praxis. Find out where your water comes from, who makes decisions about water rates, and what happens if a family cannot pay their water bill. Consider writing a local human right to water policy for your utility.
  • Support international groups in their efforts to enact local human right to water policies. Their successes increase the chance of achieving water justice for people in the United States.

Downloadable Earth Day Celebration Resources

Order of Service Cover for Earth Day 2009 (PDF)

Educational posters on environmental justice and UUMFE (PDFs):

Certificate to Honor your Congregational Eco-Hero (PDF)

Guardian Nomination forms to nominate your Eco-Hero for the 2009 UUMFE Guardian of the Future Award. Available in two formats:

UU Ministry for Earth brochure with form (PDF)