See You Tuesday for Part II of Death and Life of the Great Lakes Community Read

On Tuesday night, November 13, at 6:30, we will continue our Community Read discussion of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan.

For this evening’s discussion, we will focus on Part II: The Back Door. If you haven’t had a chance to read it now, there is still plenty of time before we meet. This section of the book travels quickly from the southern tip of Lake Michigan through the Mississippi River Basin and beyond, beginning with the undividing of the continental divide between the two great water systems. A historic whodunit!

Tuesday evening’s format will be much like our last session. We will break into groups, talk about the section of the book, share our perspectives, share with the whole group, and then wave our new scepters as Czars and Czarinas of the Great Lakes to decide how we will fix things.

Our last session in November will be a different sort of evening. We have a 20-year NOAA biologist joining us along with representation for various water action groups with our focus on Part III: The Future.

Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday. Snacks to share are welcome. Bring your own beverage if you’re not into Coffee, Tea, or water.

Update for Community Read participants

Hey folks!

The DUCC Creation Justice Team met last night, and discussed our next two meetings for the Community Read, what we heard from you as we were discussing the book, and what’s ahead.

For this next section of the book, Part II, the Back Door, we’ll be learning about invasive species coming from the other direction, The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. We’ve been in touch with the eDNA researchers who worked on the original project, and find that at least one of them is working closely with the Nature Conservancy. Here’s more about their work in Michigan. We recommend checking out those animations watching the spread of these species as the years progress (Pro-tip: if you hit the settings key while watching a YouTube video, you can slow the progress down. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that for the lakes?). And the link at the bottom of the page has a nice little video clip featuring some of the folks Egan interviewed for the book.

And here is a little update on the progress of eDNA use to detect species where they are hard to see and find. Progress! Yay, science!

We discuss Part II at 6:30pm on October 23. And we’ll make better use of the space to make chatting a bit less noisy!

For this next section, fair warning, there isn’t much reprieve in our new awareness, but there is hope. Because there is always hope. Anywhere there is action, there is hope, right?

With this email we are drawing you to our website where we post about the events and programs offered by our little team. If you look at the links on the right-hand side of the page, you’ll find lots and lots of groups whose work you can explore.

Scroll waaaay down to find the groups with special focus on water. For our last evening together, on November 13, we will be talking about these groups and the kinds of action you can take and encourage your friends and neighbors to take on behalf of the Great Lakes.

As long as we are doing something, we aren’t doing nothing. Or something.

Namaste, friends. Looking forward to our next meeting!

Community Read: Death and Life of the Great Lakes


Former State Senator Patty Birkholz, in the year or so before she passed away, served as a great mentor to the DUCC Creation Justice Team. During that time she pressed into our hands — as she did everyone she met — Dan Egan’s amazing and award-winning book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.

Patty wanted everyone in the states and provinces that border the Great Lakes to read it, to understand better the challenges our waters have faced and will face, so we can be better equipped to fight for the survival of the largest freshwater system in North America.

So we have decided to read this book together as a kind of community-wide bookclub Event.

Will you join us?

The book is divided into three parts, the Front Door, the Back Door, and the Future. We will gather at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI on these dates to discuss these sections of the book.

The Front Door, September 18, 6:30p.m.

The Back Door, October 23, 6:30p.m.

The Future, November 13, 6:30p.m.

The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library has hard copies and electronic copies of the book available on loan. Cabbages & Kings in Douglas, will be stocking copies of the book.

THIS EVENT IS FULL. Follow this link to to put your name on the waiting list!



Gardening is Giving Recap

What a wonderful evening we had! Creation Sarah Swift Morgan shared the DUCC’s plan for sharing our harvests with each other and the Christian Neighbors Food Bank. She showed us her method of getting remarkable yields from tiny gardening containers, and many ideas for making them.

Compost Ken, our dear friend, came back to give us a crash course on making the best loamy, nutritious soil from our yard and food waste without a lot of effort or fuss. In particular we saw his invention — a good looking compost container for any yard — that is very easy to use and maintain. See pics of the bin below and email Ken if you’d like to buy or build one for your yard.  Here’s a crib sheet of Ken’s best compost tips.

Together we watched this, which we recommend watching more than once:

And we explored all the kinds of plants and flowers and shrubs and trees we can be planting in our own yards to keep our bee populations healthy and strong. This is a world-wide effort underway, like a global victory-garden movement, if you know what we mean. And we encourage everyone with a pot to plant in or a yard or acreage to landscape to consider planting to bring back the bees.

Here are the slides from Sarah and Ken’s presentations. Please take the time to review them.

Growing is Giving Presentation

DIY Composting Workshop.EDIT

Planting for the Bees 2

Sarah also recommended this book, because Mason Bees are wildly good pollinators, and it’s easy to host homes for them, which can be easily made or purchased in gardening stores in real life and online:

And Ken wanted to point out the so-cool seed library at Herrick District Library in Holland:

And he asks that we find ways to support the Holland Area Beekeepers Association, and find ways to thank them:

We are gathering a mailing list, if you would be interested in hearing about our Creation Justice Programs by email. It’s easy to sign up, just send us an email at, or subscribe to this blog using the link above, and we will make sure to alert you of upcoming events.

Happy planting, people.

Please share this post with the gardeners you love!




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Gardening is Giving

When:      May 8
Time:        6:30pm Refreshments, 7:00pm Presentation
Where:     Friendship Hall, Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ,
                   56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI 49406
This Spring the DUCC Creation Justice Team’s spring gardening program is “Growing  Is Giving,” an exploration of gardening as a way of giving back to both the community and the environment. A slate of speakers — soon to be announced! — will talk to us about how our own patches of land and what we grow on them can replenish the soil, feed our friends and neighbors, and how what we grow can have a very real impact on feeding the pollinators we need to sustain growth for all of the landscapes we share. Stay tuned for the full list of speakers, old friends and new, and reserve your space now by signing up at the DUCC Friendship Hall sign-up sheet, or on the DUCC Facebook event page.

Honor Thy Mother (Earth)

Our Earth Day celebrations began with a few sore backs and shoulders after dozens of our members showed up to clean 4 miles of highway around our town. See the article all about it, featured on the National UCC newsletter, and more great team photos on the DUCC Instagram account. Special shoutout to Pastor Sal for winning the Michigan Interfaith Power and Light sermon contest for his beautiful Earth Day Message. Stay tuned for announcements of our spring programs. Great work ahead!


What a Waste: Food Waste and Our Future

What a Waste: Food Waste and Our Future
Thursday, March 15, 6:30pm
Douglas UCC Friendship Hall
56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI
Program is free, public is welcome.

On Thursday, March 15, the Creation Justice Team’s next environmental education program entitled What A Waste: Food Waste and Our Future, presenting local and national Environmentalist Tracey Shafroth, who will teach us about the impact of food waste on our environment and steps we can take at home and in the world to help curb it. Tracey serves on the Michigan Advisory Board of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, on the Midwest Council of the National Parks Conservation Association, is a fellow and member of the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum, a strategic advisor to the Vital Lands Program of the Grand Victoria Foundation, and a volunteer for Freshwater Futures. We will open the doors of the Friendship Hall at 6:30pm for dessert and coffee. Tracey’s talk will begin at 7pm, with time afterward questions and more conversation. This event is open to the public. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to join us.

Making Our Lakes Great Again

On September 14, as part of Douglas UCC’s month-long Creation Justice Season, we will hear from former state senator and former director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes, Patty Birkholz. Ms. Birkholz is a Saugatuck native who continues in her role as protector of Michigan’s waterways by serving on the boards of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), and NOAA, among her many points of service and leadership.

Ms. Birkholz remains very active in the work of protecting and preserving the Great Lakes, and will talk to us about the recent challenges to the GLRI (Spoiler! It is not all bad news!), and will steer us through the various groups contributing to these efforts, so we can each decide where and how we can help this work along.

This event is free and open to the West Michigan community.

The details:

September 14, Making Our Lakes Great Again

DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall St., Douglas, MI

6:30pm, social time, dessert, coffee and tea

7:00pm, program begins

Please sign up for this event in the Friendship Hall at Douglas UCC or by writing to We would like to have your RSVPs so we can plan for our table of desserts and light snacks, coffee and tea service. This is not a potluck, but if you feel inclined to share something, sharing is always nice.

Green Gardening is FUN

Also, it was delicious. Also inspiring. And sweet. And funny. Our May 11 evening presentation-and-dessert Green Gardens event drew a huge and good-looking crowd!

We used the cool new tech (hello big presentation screen!) and old tech (that one coffee pot? Not happy.) Such big thanks to our presenters, Avril Freeman, the agricultural educator, her daughter Hazel, who brought comic breaks to the evening:

And Ken Freestone, master-composter-among-other-green-roles, who made dirt-making sound fun and important. (So many ways composting helps the environment!)

I don’t want to make a long post about it, but do want to share resources along with the slides, to help us all get started. If you have more resources, farms, seed sources, plant swaps, composting supplies, farms, markets to share, please post them in the comments!

Here goes:

Were you inspired to start growing food in your flowerpots, on your borders, in a straight-up veggie plot? Here’s a helpful planting calendar.

Going to grow from seed? You might want to wander up to Zeeland to visit this place.

Want to learn more about trading plants you’ve started? Connect with Avril.

No thanks, you’d rather save your manicure, support a farmer, and buy a local share of a farm’s fresh produce? Shop local community-supported Ag here.

And of course, there is our own, local and lovely Saugatuck Farmers’ Market at the SCA. Fridays from 9am to 3pm, starting on the 26th!

Want to get started composting? Want one of the cool compost bins Ken designed? He’ll make and deliver them, or he will put together a kit you can assemble yourself. And the basics, hand-out-forms and how-tos are all right here.

Want to reach Ken directly, to talk about putting a Green Michigan bin at your home or business? Write to him here.

Want to donate to to thank Ken and his team for all the love and time he’s given DUCC? There’s a handy donate button right here.

Download Avril’s Green Gardening Preso

Ken’s Compost Presentation

Green Gardens

On May 11, the Douglas UCC Creation Justice Team brings you “Green Gardens,” a really fun evening event designed to help us manage our patches of Earth and support green growers, to keep her healthy and the plants and foods we raise happy and flourishing, all while feeding a shared table and a shared water table safe enough for everyone downstream of us. Our teachers will be Ken Freestone, Master Composter (yes, that’s a thing), returning to us from, and Avril Freeman, an Agriculture Educator (definitely a thing, too).

Thing 1 and Thing 2 will race us through all of the possibilities for growing our own or working with our landscape maintenance folks and local farmers to reduce our impact, improve our yields, recycle our garbage into gold.

The details:

May 11, Green Gardens

DUCC Friendship Hall

6:30pm, social time

7:00pm, program begins

Please sign up for this event in the Friendship Hall at Douglas UCC or by writing to We will have desserts and light snacks, coffee and tea service to share. This is not a potluck, but if you feel inclined to share something, sharing is always nice.