Losing the Dark: How the IDA helps us understand light pollution and what we can do about it.

Dark Skies Michigan

On January 21 at 6:30 pm, please come to hear Peter Burkey speak on the over-lighting of our skies and the effect this trend has had on our health and the health of neighboring species.
The event will be held in the Douglas UCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, in Douglas, Michigan. Peter has been a supporter of the International Dark Sky Association for decades, and is an advocate for quality, dark-sky-friendly lighting. His talk will include information on the effects of poor lighting and how they can be remedied.
Peter Burkey is a retired high school teacher who taught mathematics, physics, and astronomy at Fennville HS for over thirty years.  He was also an adjunct professor of astronomy at Hope College for several years after retirement.
During his teaching career, he received training in astronomy education at NASA’s Lewis Research Center (now the John Glenn Research Center) near Cleveland, OH, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA.
Peter has been a member of the Shoreline Amateur Astronomical Association since 1989 and has given numerous presentations and demonstrations to people of all backgrounds and ages.
He has been a supporter of International Dark Sky Association for decades and is an advocate for quality, dark-sky-friendly lighting.  His talk will include information on the effects of poor lighting and how they can be remedied.

Help Us Clean the Highway?

adopt a highway

Douglas UCC’s Creation Justice team invites any of our neighbors who would like to help clean up the stretch of US196 that hugs our cities and township to join us in our Adopt-A-Highway project to clear the trash along the highway.

We have scheduled two cleanup periods for the spring, July 13 from 9am to noon and July 16 from 4 to 7pm.

You will review a training video, receive safety vests and cleaning equipment. Bring gloves and dress to protect yourself from sun and bugs. For each event, we ask that you follow one of the links below to grab a free “ticket,” so that we may get a good count of volunteers and easily communicate with you in case of rescheduling for weather.

To sign up for Saturday, July 13 from 9am to 12pm, click here:


To sign up for Tuesday, July 16 from 4 to 7pm, click here:




Community Read: Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass Ad-01

It’s hard to imagine the Autumn right now, isn’t it? We only want you to imagine it enough to sign up and save the date for our next Community-wide read of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s amazing book, Braiding Sweetgrass. It’s the perfect book to read over the summer months, we promise. And discussing it together, sharing in the community wisdom and concern for our environment promises to make for a moving and movment-making evening.

But first, if you are game to join us, please sign up for a spot. We filled the house with the last discussion, and we cap out at 55 participants. We will start a waiting list, and if it gets long enough, we will repeat the discussion on the following night.



Bee Informed: Honey Bee Science and How to Help


On Tuesday, May 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the Douglas UCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street in Douglas, Michigan, Anne Marie Fauvel, Tech Team Coordinator for the Bee Informed Partnership based at the University of Maryland, will share the latest data on Honey Bee populations in Michigan, and how we can manage our own landscapes to help these important populations thrive.

Grand Haven-based Fauvel is charged with the logistics of five mobile regional technical-transfer teams working directly with commercial beekeepers, to bridge the gap between industry and academic research.

The Tech-Teams lead the sampling effort to collect copious amount of data on colony health, management and treatment data and act as consultant with their regional and national perspectives. Fauvel also teaches at Grand Valley State University and is the apiarist on campus managing the small GVSU Meijer Campus Apiary in Holland Michigan.

She will build the case for the importance of the honey bee and their current population state in the United States and Michigan.

Are honey bee populations declining? And are pesticides to blame? Fauvel will discuss the many causes of colony losses and give example of local and national programs, and research efforts to better understand colony health and improve colony survivorship through best management practices.

Learn more about Fauvel and the Bee Informed Partnership at https://beeinformed.org/.

This program is free and open to the public.

The Reluctant Radical: Movie and Discussion


GreenMichigan.org‘s Macatawa Creation Care in partnership with the CRC’s Climate Witness Project has scheduled a showing of The Reluctant Radical for…

Thursday, April 11, 2019

at 7:00 pm
at the Park Theater, in Holland, MI.

They are gathering a panel discussion following the film.

The film raises challenging questions around the issue of climate change:  Sanity vs Insanity–is it insane not to respond to climate change?  What’s my role if I’m not an activist? Is it civil disobedience–or maybe you’re just a nag?

You can explore the film further at:


Please join in the discussion. And perhaps the action, too?

New Ways to Love Trees — Follow Up


On Saturday, February 23, 2019, Drs. Greg Murray and Kathy Winnett-Murray presented A New Way to Love Trees at Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ. It was standing-room only, informative, fascinating, and so very useful.

These zoologist-biologists taught us all the ways trees help our homes and communities, clean and manage our water, save energy, house wildlife, impact our health, and yes, how they communicate with one another. They also discussed their latest research on the threats to our local Hemlock populations.

Drs. Greg and Kathy like to say, ”Even trees standing outside your window in the dead of winter are providing you with ecological, economic, and health benefits that most folks take for granted.” All while “just standing there.”

They also showed us how to plan for new trees on our properties, using i-Tree Design, linked below, and how the City of Holland is working with the Murrays and other Hope Professors and students to identify and evaluate the contribution of trees to the City. We can take their lessons home with us, using these links:

i-Tree Design, Determine the best spot to plant your new trees!

My Tree (by i-Tree), Learn about your tree benefits

National Tree Benefit Calculator

PlantSnap, Plant Identification App

TreeSap, Android Phone App for Holland Area by Mike Jipping

Energy Saving Trees Program

Save Michigan Hemlocks

Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

City of Holland Sustainability


New Ways to Love Trees, February 23

New Ways to Love Trees

Douglas, Michigan — On Saturday, February 23, Drs. Greg Murray and Kathy Winnett-Murray, professors of biology at Hope College, will talk trees at the Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ. The event is free, open to the public, and runs from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

These zoologist-biologists have been studying trees (and the things that live in them and near them) since they came to Hope College in 1986. As ecologists, they love exploring interactions among creatures in all sorts of environments. Hope students often join them in their research, particularly in Hope’s splendidly forested dune forest preserve, and in Costa Rica, where Greg has studied forest dynamics for 37 years. Greg and Kathy have also led May Terms in Ecuador, the Galapagos, the Sonoran Desert, and Tanzania.

Drs. Greg and Kathy explain, ”Even trees standing outside your window in the dead of winter are providing you with ecological, economic, and health benefits that most folks take for granted.” All while “just standing there.”

During the summer of 2018, the Murrays and an eclectic group of tree-lovers — biology student Katelyn DeWitt, Hope’s sustainability coordinator Michelle Gibbs, partners from the City of Holland, and computer science professor Dr. Mike Jipping and his app-savvy students– found new ways to love trees. They’ll share the story of what they learned together and how they hope it will promote the value of trees to our communities. It’s a story about the benefits of trees now and in the future.

The professors will share several resources for people to take home/link to/download as part of the presentation.

Attendees should feel encouraged to bring their cell phones in case they want to try out some of the apps presented during the talk.

The presentation is free to the pubic, light refreshments will be served.

This talk is part of the education series conducted by Douglas UCC’s Creation Justice Team. To follow the series and the work of the team online, visit https://atomic-temporary-122391501.wpcomstaging.com/.

CJT Randall’s Intro to Sky Sunday

Randall gave this glorious intro to Sky Sunday, part of our three-week Creation Justice Season at the DUCC. Enjoy:

Good morning. I’m Randall Braaksma, and I’m part of the Creation Justice group at Douglas UCC, and I’m here to talk to you about the sky. Perhaps you’ve worn one of these [face mask respirator] when you were doing some dirty, dusty work around the house or on job site. But many people wear these every day just to breathe a little easier.

I lived for several years in Beijing, China, and this was not a fashion accessory, it was often a necessity. I remember the day Beijing’s normally smoggy skies went clear blue on a crisp December day. We were all amazed until we remembered that the Olympic Committee was visiting to review Beijing’s bid to host the Games.

The city government of Beijing had the power and control to make its citizens stop polluting in order to make a good impression. But just for a while. The smog began descending almost as soon as the Olympic Committee’s plane took off.

Air pollution continues to be a big problem in places like Beijing, Dehli, and Manilla. And it’s causing damaging health effects for millions around the world. Today, about 235 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. And more than 80 percent of asthma deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries. Overall, the World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 million people die each year due to air pollution.

Statistics like that certainly make this a justice issue. So, what can we do about it?

Pastor Sal has often exhorted us to speak truth to power. And Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us to do that. Just a few weeks ago, the E.P.A. announced it’s looking at letting coal plants that are nearing retirement keep on working, or should I say polluting, with a refurbishment that DOES NOT include adding pollution controls. And just this week, the administration said it plans to roll back rules covering methane leaks and the “flaring,” or burning, of potent greenhouse gas by energy companies. This while U.N. General Secretary António Guterres called climate change the defining issue of our time and said, (quote) “the time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.”

Clean air is a basic human right. When it’s in danger, we must fight this injustice. We can take that fight to the national and international levels. We can take it to our individual lives, too. Last week, Pastor Sal talked about the need to become aware that Christ is in us and in everything, including, or should I say especially, the air we breathe. The challenge is to ask ourselves is, How can I be more aware so that the decisions I make every day do the sky good and not harm?

–Randall Braaksma

CJT Eric’s Planet Earth Sunday Introduction

Did you miss this? I hope not. Eric’s lovely introduction to Planet Earth Sunday at DUCC.

“Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

This all too familiar passage from Genesis is in some ways at the root of our modern-day environmental crisis.  In particular, the word “dominion” has become somewhat problematic. Webster’s dictionary defines dominion as “supreme authority” or “absolute control”.  At this point in our history and culture, we have taken this charge quite literally, plundering the earth for its resources as if we are the “supreme authority”, and as a result, we are putting our own existence in peril. Something about our approach is not right.

If we could somehow see our actions outside of our own culture and context, perhaps we might understand our responsibility differently. Indigenous cultures throughout the world, those who have held on to primal teachings, have something to teach us.  Native American cultures don’t share our story of dominion or even the language of stewardship – their story is of relationship with the Earth.  In language and in practice, these cultures model more closely our own biblical example that God set forth in Genesis – Creator in loving relationship with Creation.  Right stewardship flows from a loving relationship. And it is by remembering and rediscovering this love that we will find our way forward.

Today, on this first Sunday of Creation Season, we begin by celebrating “Planet Earth”.  We open ourselves to learn from lava and trees, soil and water, moths and ravens, and all that our planet has to show us.  We seek to learn the language of seasons and cycles, which makes us more attuned to the underlying rhythms of life, We hope to show the type of compassion that extends beyond all borders, beyond our species, to “all the ends of the earth” –  compassion from a “God’s-eye view”.  And we pray that this compassion results in action and justice for our common home, planet Earth. Please join me in our unison prayer.

–Eric LeJeune, Creation Justice Team, DUCC


Tuesday, November 13, our Last Gathering for Death and Life of the Great Lakes Community Read

And now for something completely different!

Here we are in The Future, part III of Dan Egan’s Death and Life of the Great Lakes. For this gathering, we will open the doors to the whole community, to make room for guest speakers and representation from local water action groups. Please feel free to bring along your friends and family members who love and care for the Great Lakes.

First up, we will catch up with the latest research findings with our speaker, Steve Pothoven, biologist with NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab field station for more than 20 years. Steve has worked on all the Great Lakes as well as east coast estuaries, and he will catch us up with the science of invasive species discovery.

We will also learn more about local water protecting organizations, and meet one or two or three (still waiting on confirmation) representatives of these organizations, who will be happy to share with you ways you can support their work, get involved with local activities to help promote and protect the Great Lakes.

And of course we will discuss Dan Egan’s text, Part III, The Future. We want to hear how this section sat with our Great Lakes Czars and Czarinas.

Looking forward to gathering again with a fascinating, informative, and action-oriented session.

Thank you all, from the depths of our hearts, for joining us in this adventure, held in memory of our friend and former State Senator, Patty Birkholz. Patty is smiling.

Doors open at 6:30. Talk begins at 7. DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI

Psst! You may wish to bring along a notebook and pen!