Green Chalice: Stewardship of our Rescources 2

Stewardship of the earth comes in many forms. There is recycling materials we use. How do we keep our water clean and the air fresh? How do we use fewer resources to heat and cool our homes? How do we best manage what God has given to us? But like so many things, it comes down to economics. A hundred years ago, John Muir lead the environmental movement. In the 1970’s Jerry Brown set California to lead the way for energy efficiency, and created much of the structure to reduce our per capita energy usage. We are 47th out of 50 states. But the backbone of how we got here is under threat by AB1139 right now. It attacks the fundamentals of how Solar Electricity (PV) is financed and ultimately who owns it. This bill attacks leasing, Net Metering and ownership of solar electric systems. Leasing allows private money to be used to install PV on low income homes, non-profits, businesses, or locations which simply don’t have the resources to outright purchase a solar PV system, requiring nothing more from the property owners except the use of their roof. There is a bonus to the property owner of a discount on their utility bill.
 

A concise definition of Net Metering is when Solar electricity is created during the day and not used on location, that power is banked in the utility grid and used someplace else in California, with the PV producer receiving a credit (spinning the electric meter backwards).  A PV installer-owner last week said that the changes to Net Metering (added fees and shorter contracts requiring the utility company to accept net metered electricity), would change the payback period from 6-7 years to 12-14 years. The money represented by the increased payback period would be shifted from PV producers to the Electric Utility Companies.  
 

The third main proposal in AB1139 is converting all PV private investments on private property to public works. Should this law pass, the Solar Electric Industry would be decimated resulting in job loss of up to 65,000 people, while the Electric Utilities would make the profits.
 

So, in an effort to decarbonize, save jobs, reduce our carbon footprint, please take a moment to educate yourself on AB1139.

This is part of the hard work of managing our earth.  God willing: Empowering those who help, and stopping those who will diminish.

Green Chalice: Stewardship of our Resources

As part of our Earth Day celebration in worship on April 18th, Stewardship Coordinator John Grose presented a brief but fact-filled PowerPoint slideshow on energy, conservation, and the environment. He packed a lot into just a few minutes and just brushed the surface. Moving forward, John plans to use this space to highlight and expand on some of that information.  
 

This month, in light of all the drought warnings and in some areas, restrictions, we will focus on a water-saving device that can be used in anyone’s home. You may not think about this, but do you realize how many gallons of water you send down the drain, unused, while waiting for the water to get hot? An average home has 125 feet of 3/4 inch pipe. This holds 3.14 gallons of water. If hot water is used 10 times per day, 31 gallons of water is wasted running the faucets/shower to get the hot water. In a year, this equals 11,461 gallons of water. Over twenty-five millions homes waste approximately 300 billion gallons of water annually. You pay for this potable water, wasted energy and sewage fees.  
 

Installing a hot water recirculation system saves TIME, ENERGY and WATER. Recirculation systems can be used with tank or tankless water heaters. They are easy to retrofit in existing homes (most installations take less than ½ hour). How does it work? A small pump at the tank or tankless heater, or installed under the sink, forces the lukewarm water from the hot supply line into the cold supply line. If a dedicated return line is used it returns the lukewarm water to the heater. (This pump is so energy efficient it costs only $3.00 - $8.00 per year to run, paying for itself in 1 to 3 years.) A sensor/switch built into the pump or a by-pass valve transfers the lukewarm water into the cold pipe. The valves maintain average 93° F at the sink. The under sink pump starts when temperature drops to 85° F and stops when it reaches 104° F.  The pump runs about 3 times an hour for 2 minutes. A built-in 24-hour mechanical timer allows the user to set the time when he wants instant hot water. An ON CALL button, motion sensor or app can also activate the system.  For more information, here’s a video you can check out, also: https://youtu.be/hYcaZY3YzfE

An Easter Gift

On Good Friday, volunteers from the church met in the fellowship hall to assemble "Easter Bags" to go to those living at the Christian Help Center and to the Sparrow Project for distribution to those who use their services as well.


The response from our congregation for donations to this project was amazing and heart warming! We collected over $800. Here's what we were able to do with our funds:

For the Christian Help Center, we filled 50 bags (one for every adult living there) with personal care items, including a pen, pocket notebook, bar of soap, hand sanitizer, first aid cream, band aids, comb, emery boards, Kleenex, face mask and candy. We also filled 7 bags for the youth in the family center which included color pencils, a pen, Kleenex and candy, plus one of the following-- a game, book or journal, depending on the age of each youth.

The Sparrow Project received in bulk washcloths, emery boards, band aids, first aid cream, tooth brushes, tooth paste, combs, bars of soap, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, face masks, and 75 Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets.

Everyone we encountered were so nice and appreciative. The need is great and we can be thankful that we were able to help over 100 people this Easter. More money came in after items were ordered and bought, and we are looking at ways to use those funds to further help people in need. Again, thank you so much for making this important project happen.



Mission Action Gifts

 Our March Mission Action gift is going to the local program Food Is Free Solano.  Their mission statement reads “We believe that food is a basic human right. Our goal is to create community, foment happiness and feed people. Everyone deserves access to nutritious, culturally relevant food.”  They operate three programs:  Food Is Free permanent and temporary food stands at numerous locations throughout the county, Park-It Market, a mobile unit bringing food directly to neighborhoods, and Solano Gleaning Initiative, where volunteers come to pick fruit that homeowners don’t want or can’t use.  Find out more (and request your trees to be gleaned!) at their website, https://foodisfreesolano.org/ .

Our April Mission Action gift will go to Ample Harvest.  This organization is a nationwide non-profit that uses technology to end food waste and hunger, reduce malnutrition and help the environment in America by educating and empowering millions of home/community gardeners to easily find a local food pantry eager for their surplus garden bounty.  Ample Harvest envisions an America where millions of gardeners eliminate the hunger, malnutrition and the waste of food, in their own community.  They also help those who need food to find local food resources.  Find out more (and learn where to donate your own excess produce!) at their website, https://ampleharvest.org/ .

A Very Different, But Successful Faire

 Because of the virtual nature of this past year’s Global Holiday Faire, we will never know how well we did raising money for the twelve organizations that we promoted through our virtual marketplace. But we do have some numbers and we do know that we had a positive impact on all of those non-profit organizations, and in one case, more of an impact than ever before!
 

Here is what we know - we raised over $1,500 for SERRV through our group sale. Undoubtedly, we raised more than that on the website. We did a group sale for Women’s Bean Project which raised over $440 and we know for sure that shoppers used our exclusive coupon code online, so those sales were even higher. We donated gift baskets to Loma Vista Farm to sell during their Christmas Tree sale which raised $127. That was a small way for us to contribute to their cause and money that they wouldn’t have had without the baskets from our church and the Faire’s ecumenical committee. We know that we raised over $660 for Concern America. That is a great number for online sales! With the incredible amount of donations that we received (over $1,000!) and with some other funds, we were able to donate $550 to the DePaul Women’s Center, and $600 to both Genesis House and the Amador St. Hope Center, all of which are long time partners of the Faire.
 

We are still hoping to get some more reports from a few of our vendors. We know that we sold over $300 for Global Mamas, but we may have raised quite a bit more. We know anecdotally that we had shoppers make purchases through the Franciscan Peace Makers, but we have no idea how much. Again, anecdotally we know that we raised money for Arbor Day Foundation from their alternative giving program, but have no idea how much. We promoted Milestones of Development and hope that shoppers visited their site and made some donations, but we will never know. We certainly know that we had a lot of visitors to our website and we know that we did a great job of spreading the word about all of these organizations.
 

I did skip one of the organizations as I wanted to give it its own space. We set up a special fundraising page for Heifer International and we set a goal of $1,500 as that is the average we’ve raised for them over the last 10 Global Holiday Faires. To say that we blew past that number would be an understatement. We raised $3,932 on that fundraising page! Plus, we received other donations directly to the Faire which were intended for Heifer, which brought our grand total raised to $4,282! We were blown away by that response. That is by far the most we’ve ever raised for Heifer in over 20 years of supporting them from the very first Faire. Last year had been the best ever, but we raised $1,887 more than that previous record. So a big thank you goes out to everyone who donated to this great effort!
And thank you to everyone who placed an order for SERRV and Women’s Bean Project for our special orders, to everyone who made a purchase or a donation to one of our vendors, to everyone who donated directly to the Faire, to everyone who made a gift basket, to everyone who helped promote our Virtual Marketplace and make this Faire as successful as it was in such difficult situations.

Don’t forget, we will be back. Mark your calendars now for December 4, 2021. We look forward to seeing you (hopefully in person) then!

Common Ground Makes An Impression

At the Vallejo City Council on October 27, Common Ground made a presentation on various models of Citizen Oversight for the Vallejo Police Department.
 

In order to present this information, the Public Safety Team met with hundreds of community members to hear their concerns and discuss issues with experts on oversight. The intent is for this to lead to study sessions, expert forums, more community input, and listening sessions with the VPD. We showed the City Council and the viewers who Common Ground is and what it can do when we organize. When we say we want to be at the table we mean it!
 

AND BOY DID WE MAKE AN IMPRESSION!
 

The City Council could not have been more complimentary. They all praised not only the presentation, but the dedication of our organization. The Mayor also mentioned including Common Ground in the weekly City of Vallejo Newsletter that goes out to thousands in Vallejo!
 

In other Common Ground news, the Mobile Crisis Unit Team is currently contacting people and organizations in the County in an effort to find all the people who have invested interest in making a mobile crisis unit in Vallejo-Benicia. The County currently is embarking on a mobile crisis unit pilot program that will begin in Fairfield and Dixon in January, but may not come to Vallejo until 2023 at the earliest! That is not good enough... People are hurting, people are dying, and there is no time to wait! So we are hoping to pressure the county to open a unit in Vallejo or for the city to start an independent crisis unit. There is a lot of excitement for this from non-profits, hospitals, city official, and community members, so the time is now to get to work!