Congregational members at UUCC are involved Environmental issues as individuals, as a congregation and in association with other community groups, local and national to make our voices stronger. We have created space on our property which reflect our environmental values and principles. Below is a list of some of our groups and associations.

Solar Panels, Electric Vehicle  Charging Station and Rain Water Cisterns

In our parking lot is an array of solar panels, developed in partnership with Cleveland-based Solar Action, that supply electricity for our building. Solar panels are not often talked about as an expression of religious conviction.  But in 2012, as the debate over climate change started to heat up, First Unitarian Church of Cleveland (now Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland) decided to put up Solar Panels in their parking lot as an expression of our call to environmental stewardship, an expression of our belief in the 7th principal  

Respect for the interdependent web of all
 existence of which we are a part.

Ministry for Earth sought this system as part of the Green Sanctuary certification which was awarded in 2011. The system includes:
1. Solar array with 380 panels, each producing 240 watts of power
2. An Electric Car Charging Station
3. 38 covered parking spaces under the solar panels
4. Gutters and cisterns to collect water coming off the panels for use in our garden, diverting some water from the storm sewer (paid for by a grant from the NEO Sewer District)

The solar panels have generated 120% of the congregation’s electrical needs since its installation in 2012. Excess electricity is put back into the grid. Due to the timing of our requirements for electricity vs. when the panels generate power, we still purchase electricity from CEI. The 380 panels generated 94,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in 2020– enough to supply the yearly power needs of about 10 homes, eliminating 77 tons of CO2 per year.

This project, costing over $500,000 for the solar panels and installation, was developed in partnership with Solar Action, a Cleveland-based company whose objective is “to minimize the financial burden associated with the construction of large-scale solar installations by governments and non-profit institutions.” Solar Action made the upfront investment in the panels and installation, with UUCC and its predecessor congregation paying for it through the purchase of the electricity generated by the panels at a rate designed to produce savings over the purchase of all power from CEI. Recent discussions with Solar Action will result in UUCC owning the panels before the end of 2021. The panels have a useful life of 25-30 years.

In recent years Electric vehicles are becoming more available and more popular. We often see vehicles taking advantage of our EV Charging Station. We do accept donations for the electricity used to charge your car. donate

In the future we will continue to explore more ways that we as a congregation can reduce our carbon footprint.

Remembering that: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children….. and we share it with all living things.

Playground

The Playground is a collaborative project between the congregation and the community. It was originally built many decades ago and, while still attracting UUCC members, students from the IMPACT program, and neighborhood kids, it had areas of rotting wood, protruding nails, and other signs of needing repair. In 2018, a group of neighborhood kids wrote to the Congregational Board stating that they loved playing in the congregation’s playground, but it was unsafe and they wanted to help fix it. With the support of their parents, they also offered to raise money for the repairs.

Playgrounds are a great way to bring people together, build social connections, and be active outside. The UUCC and its neighbors created a committee to explore what it takes to make a good neighborhood playground for people of all ages. Over a period of 2 years, meetings were held to create a shared vision and develop a plan. The plan included demolishing an unsafe structure, repairing damaged or worn structures, fresh paint, new mulch, building two benches, two picnic tables, and a seesaw, and a plan for ongoing maintenance.

On June 30th, 2019, UUCC hosted a Common Ground discussion in partnership with The Cleveland Foundation to talk about community connections, including the playground.  IOBY funding was set up to accept donations.

Kids were key workers in every step of this project. In 2021, this congregation/neighborhood partnership continues to  maintain and improve the playground and make it a fun and safe place for our community to enjoy.

The Community Garden

The Community Garden was started in 2009. Folks can reserve one or more beds in the spring or fall and organically grow vegetables, fruits, and flowers. The plots are available to members of the community which includes the congregation as well as friends and neighbors in the wider community. The garden is also used to teach gardening skills and information to youth groups and Scouts. Key features of the garden include the following:

  • Each bed is 4’ X 8’, arranged with three beds touching each other.
  • We sponsor multiple community work days to get to know fellow gardeners.
  • There are 10 beds where the community of gardeners works together to raise vegetables that are donated to the local food bank.
  • The garden is deer free, protected by a fence.
  • It is an organic garden (no pesticides or herbicides).
  • Cost per bed is $15 per year. Keeping the same bed from year to year is encouraged.
  • There is an initial $20 deposit that is refunded if you leave the garden with your beds in reasonably good condition.
  • For now, water is obtained from the building with plans to connect to the water cisterns that collect run-off from the solar array.

For more information, contact Russ Fedewa, 216-704-5105.

THE ANGUS MACLEAN MEMORIAL GARDEN

The Memorial Garden is a reminder of the inter- connected web of life.  As a final resting place for members who have gone before us, it is a place to hold them close in our thoughts and hearts cherishing their gifts and presence among us.  May we find inspiration from their lives, comfort in our loss, andcourage to live our own lives with integrity and gratitude.

The garden is a sacred space, a place of quiet beauty and reverence. It is a place to connect the living with the past exemplifying a caring community for persons known and unknown to us. The garden invites you to come and stay, to be comforted or refreshed.

The garden honors Dr. Angus MacLean, our beloved minster of religious education from 1961 to 1967 after a long career as Professor of Religious Education and Dean at the Theological School of St. Lawrence University. His significance was in his unswerving service as an advocate and writer in the cause of religious education for children and adults and as preacher, administrator and leader during the final illness of our Minister, Dr. Robert Killam. Scholar that he was, Angus taught us not so much from books as from the example of his own life, with a candor, honesty and  grace that made it always a joy to be in his presence. We shall be eternally grateful that his life touched ours for as long as it did.

The names of those in the garden are engraved on a plaque hanging in the rear of the sanctuary.  A notebook in the church library contains short bios or obituaries of those inhabitants for whom information could be found.

To obtain permission to use the Memorial Garden   for receiving a loved one’s ashes or arranging a Memorial Service, please contact the church office at 216-751-2320.   Our minister and staff will be happy to assist you.

Volunteers appreciated: The garden is cared for by volunteers, and overseen by Jackie Stimpert and John Barber. We emphasize native plants that support biodiversity in our work in the garden.  For those who wish to use the garden for a loved one we request a small donation (currently $75) towards the nameplate on the plaque and the perpetual care of the garden.  This is a discretionary fee that can be waived by the minister. 

Cleveland Memorial Society: The Cleveland Memorial Society, with an office at UUCC, is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to simplicity, economy, dignity and forethought in funeral arrangements. The brief time it takes now for thoughtful planning and making a record of your wishes will become a lasting gift of your love to your family and survivors. With a one-time $25 fee, the Memorial Society provides access to reduced-fee funeral services with one of our Funeral Directors; planning forms, newsletters and resources to assist you with the process.
https://clevememorialsociety.org/

Ministry for Earth

The UUCC Ministry for Earth is inspired by the 7th principle:  

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The Ministry for Earth offers a way for congregation members to come together to work for environmental justice, spiritual renewal, and a shared reverence for our Earth home. The group works individually on many “in my own back yard” projects as well as coming together to:

Here is a list of our current committees

The Climate Urgency Subcommittee meets every month currently on zoom, chaired by Nancy Smith. The Climate Urgency Sub-Group of UU Ministry for Earth is strategizing on how to engage more of the congregation in understanding and acting on the greatest moral and planetary challenge of our time.  The group is exploring how to use the new UUA Green Sanctuary 2030 framework to work on the goals of mitigation, adaptation and resilience and climate justice.    As we craft a more comprehensive strategy, we are continuing to provide education and opportunities for activism in working toward climate justice.

The Sustainable Grounds Subcommittee is co-chaired by Dell Salza and Barbara Bradley. Their purpose is to research and advocate for green and sustainable options when building and grounds decisions are made for UUCC.

The Permaculture Garden and Apple Orchard are overseen by Tom Gibson. His group weeds and maintains the permaculture garden weekly on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. during the growing season. Now in spring 2021, he is coordinating the planting of about 15 donated young apple trees on the southeast lawn of the UUCC property (east of the playground). These apples will be organically grown using permaculture methods: planting native flowers and herbs that attract insects that eat the insects that attack apple trees. These plants will also enrich the soil which can then sequester more carbon. Planting will begin Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 10:00 a.m..

Tips for a Healthy Planet, an environmental column appearing monthly in The Hawk, is written by Laurie Eldridge. It contains recommendations and tips for living a more sustainable lifestyle. Laurie welcomes feedback and submissions at  laurie.eldridge@att.net.        

Recycling: Ministry for Earth supports recycling at UUCC for the congregation and for our nearby neighbors. Inside the building, we have bins for recycling bottles and cans. In our parking lot we have 2 large paper retrieving bins are used to collect paper and card board for recycling. We also have Rustbelt rider bins in our lot next to the paper bins. Rustbelt rider composts all food waste, keeping it out of the land fill. This is a subscription service available the congregation and the community at large. Here is the sign up link: https://www.rustbeltriders.com/dropoff Food waste can be placed in these bins 24/7.

Solar Array, Electric Car Charging Station, and Cisterns to Collect Rain Water In our parking lot is an array of solar panels that supply electricity for our building. The panels also supply an electric car charging station. The water run-off from the panels is collected in cisterns and is used to water the Community Garden, Memorial Garden, and Permaculture Garden, saving water and keeping water in the last and not in the storm sewer.

The Community Garden

The Community Garden was started in 2009. Folks can reserve one or more beds in the spring or fall and organically grow vegetables, fruits, and flowers. The plots are available to members of the community which includes the congregation as well as friends and neighbors in the wider community. The garden is also used to teach gardening skills and information to youth groups and Scouts. Key features of the garden include the following:

  • Each bed is 4’ X 8’, arranged with three beds touching each other.
  • We sponsor multiple community work days to get to know fellow gardeners.
  • There are 10 beds where the community of gardeners works together to raise vegetables that are donated to the local food bank.
  • The garden is deer free, protected by a fence.
  • It is an organic garden (no pesticides or herbicides).
  • Cost per bed is $15 per year. Keeping the same bed from year to year is encouraged.
  • There is an initial $20 deposit that is refunded if you leave the garden with your beds in reasonably good condition.
  • For now, water is obtained from the building with plans to connect to the water cisterns that collect run-off from the solar array.

For more information, contact Russ Fedewa, 216-704-5105.

The Permaculture Garden

The Permaculture Garden serves as a greeting to those who enter the church via the parking lot as well as a place for quiet contemplation.  It was built between 2010 and 2012 by 125 church and community volunteers and supported by $70,000 in contributions.  It is based on the principle of minimal soil disturbance and consists of multiple perennial plantings that help enrich the soil, attract beneficial insects, and provide aesthetic enjoyment. It also offers edible harvests (persimmons, currants, rhubarb, asparagus, fennel, and sage). Water run-off from the solar array is captured in giant cisterns and is used during drought to water the garden. In the spring, summer, and fall, the area is maintained by a small group of volunteers who meet ready to get dirty on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m.  More helping hands are always welcome.

For more information, contact Tom Gibson, tomgibson7477@gmail.com, the tall guy in the overalls, or Dan Homans, danhomans@hotmail.com.

UUCC Apple Orchard Planted on March 28, 2021

You may notice a new group of chicken wire cylinders just outside the Community Garden facing the Shaker Heights Middle School soccer field. They provide protective covering for 20 new apple tree saplings that 20 UUCC and 6 neighborhood volunteers planted on an emergency basis this past weekend.

The saplings are heritage apple varieties grafted by Dennis Grossman’s and Julie Short’s daughter and son-in-law. The latter have just sold their Ashland-area farm and are moving to the west coast. With April 1 as the date for the property transfer, there was a brief window of time between the thawing of the ground and the closing on the Ashland property to get the trees from Ashland into the congregation’s soil.

Members of the Ministry for Earth analyzed soil, sun exposure, and availability of water and ultimately decided that next to the Community Garden was the optimal location for these trees. Russ Fedewa, head of the UUCC Community Garden, welcomed the orchard as a new neighbor and even hooked up a hose to help our baby trees get watered.

The planting took two days. On Saturday, March 27, 2021, over 20 people (including 4 neighborhood kids and 5 neighborhood adults recruited by Dell Salza) dug holes and mixed mineral amendments into the soil. On Sunday, 12 people planted the saplings and constructed those chicken wire cylinders to protect against rabbits and deer for the foreseeable future. It was not easy work. We exercised our bodies and also our brains doing UU group problem solving. How many UUs does it take to plant an orchard? About 32: Barbara Bradley, Dell and Lou Salza, Debbie Wright, Ray Gonzalez, Jane Montgomery, Jean Martin, Steve Sanford, Nancy King Smith, Alison Bashian, Cliff Wire, Daniel Homans, Daniel O’Keefe, Julie Short, Becky Burns, Marlene and Ken Freeze, Laura Marks, and Tom and Carol Gibson. Our wonderful participating neighbors were Eric Siler, Camille, Isabel, and Lincoln Billups, Umut, Burcu, Grandma, Maya and Talia Gurkan. This planting was a lot of fun and one more link between the church landscape and the neighborhood.

It’s not over yet! The plan is to grow these trees using permaculture methods and without toxic chemicals. We will be planting bugleweed and lavender to attract pests away from the trees, garlic, onions and thyme to discourage the grass from intruding, dill and parsley to attract beneficial insects, nasturtium and chives to repel the bad insects, and yarrow and borage to nourish the soil. We’re told that it is hard to grow apples but the Ministry for Earth is up to the challenge!

Submitted by Tom Gibson, Head Tree Master

Apple trees protected by cages from deer and rabbits.
Green Noble Project

The Green Noble Project – The Noble neighborhood of Cleveland Heights has become a prime site for UUCC’s commitment to environmental justice.  Bordering East Cleveland, this northernmost section of Cleveland Heights faces the challenges of resegregation and sluggish property values. The UUCC has responded with hands-on garden building with the goals of rebuilding both community and soil.  This has led to restoration of the Oxford Community Garden, partnership with the Oxford Elementary School, the creation of innovative front yard pollinator pockets and a community orchard.  Church members meet regularly with residents to foster environmental community.

For more information, contact Tom Gibson, tomgibson7477@gmail.com.

Rust Belt Rider food waste composting at UUCC

The Rust Belt Riders Neighborhood food-scrap drop off program is now available in the UUCC Parkin Lot. Bins are in the Parking lot next to the paper recycle bins and are available 24/7/365 for collection of household food-scraps.

Participation requires you to sign up online HERE. Members are asked to pay $10 per month and may bring as many or as few food-scraps as are produced on a weekly basis. Rust Belt Riders recommends using a 5-gallon bucket lined with a BPI-Certified compostable bag or brown paper bag to collect your scraps in and encourages weekly drop-off. Rust Belt Riders buckets and bags can be purchased at any Phoenix Coffee Cafe.

Upon signing up, participating members will receive a 4-digit code in their welcome email that can be used to open the padlocks securing the lid of the collection container.

Their program can collect all food-scraps and any BPI-Certified compostable product. This includes raw and cooked foods, animal products, and bones. They do not accept pure liquid, pure oil or non BPI-Certified compostable products. Feel free to take a look at their web-app, Better Bin, for a complete list of acceptable materials. To access the free app, an account will need to be created which takes less than 30 seconds to do. In the Better Bin app you can search specific items to discover if they are acceptable and if they are not listed, you can request your item for review.

 Please review their FAQ page to look for answers to any questions you may have. All unanswered questions can be directed to support@rustbeltriders.com.