Rain Garden Revival

Well a pandemic can throw a wrench into your environmental education plans! So we have revived our goal of learning together about Rain Gardens and how they can benefit our community — and how to build them — by taking the whole movement online. 

But wait! Why build rain gardens at all? 

A rain garden is designed and planted to collect and absorb stormwater runoff from a roof, driveway or other hard surfaces. By doing this, the garden can slow down water movement while filtering pollutants the rain gathers in its cycle, before the water can enter our rivers, lakes and groundwater. 

That’s pretty great, but they also reduce flooding, refresh the groundwater, and look nice too! 

Amazing fact: one inch of rain can capture and clean 600 gallons of water in a typical rain garden. They are so useful, cities and towns all over the world are encouraging rain gardening, especially in places where water resources are fragile. 

Our friends in Washtenaw County, where a wonderful and successful rain gardening movement has taken root (!), have made their amazing, self-paced, online Master Rain Gardener class free to anyone who registers before June 1, 2020. 

We are hoping to gather — working online, and of course in our gardens — a local group of folks interested in developing rain gardens at their homes and businesses. The idea is that we learn, do, and help each other with information, resources, advice, and encouragement. 

The online course includes five hour-long classes and time to do outdoor homework. It’s homework that involves planning a garden, so you know it’s not really homework at all, just fun for the inner gardener!

The online, free Washtenaw County class also has a wonderful Facebook group, where people from all over are sharing their homework, and where their Rain Gardener Masters and course alumni are present to help answer our questions. 

Here is the link to the online course, free as long as you register before June 1, 2020:

And here is a link to the Washtenaw County Facebook group:

And if you want to join the Saugatuck-Douglas local group of rain gardeners, learning and working together on the class and on homework, sign up here:

Movie Night, Paris to Pittsburgh, Nov 19, 6:30pm

Paris to Pittsburgh

Movie Night: Paris to Pittsburgh, November 19, 6:30pm, DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI

On November 19, Douglas UCC Creation Justice team will host another Movie Night at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas.

This time we will be screening the Bloomberg Philanthropies documentary, “Paris to Pittsburgh.” Doors will open at 6:30 for popcorn. Bring your own Beverage. Movie starts promptly at 7pm.

Named Inc. Magazine’s best business documentary of 2018, PARIS TO PITTSBURGH focuses on the incredible action individuals, communities, businesses and local governments in the U.S. have undertaken to combat the threat of climate change in their own backyards in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The film explores the very real social and economic effects of climate change-fueled disasters – from America’s heartland to the nation’s coastlines and the island of Puerto Rico. The premise of the documentary is based on a Twitter response from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to President Trump the moment he pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

With devastating fires and hurricanes occurring with more frequency as the planet warms; the new federal report in which 300 scientists warn of the financial devastation and innumerable lives at risk as a result of climate change if more isn’t done soon; and a national debate raging over the United States’ energy future, the film poignantly captures what’s at stake for communities around the country and their commitment to effecting real change in reducing carbon emissions.

DUCC welcomes Douglas and Saugatuck residents to screen the film and then talk about it and what awareness-building and actions we can accomplish in our own communities. This talk is part of the education series conducted by Douglas UCC’s Creation Justice Team. 


Help us Clean the Beaches this Weekend?

oval beach

Oval Beach! Douglas Beach! The pride of our towns! And they need your help. DUCC has taken on the Adopt-a-Beach cleanup for our beautiful beaches. We’ll be working this coming Saturday, September 21, from 9am to 12 pm.

Please come with gloves and good shoes, dressed for the weather. We will put you to work. If you think you can make it, please email us, letting us know how many in your party at ducccjt@gmail.com.

Oh! And include your phone number so we can reach out in case of rescheduling: ducccjt@gmail.com

Road and Beach Clean Up Events — We Need YOU!

Ah Spring in Michigan! The rains and the snowmelt, all revealing the detritus of the long winter. It’s time to clean up our roads and beaches, friends!

Will you help?

Three events coming up:

Adopt-a-Highway Road Cleanup

The DUCC Creation Justice Team has organized two cleanups of our stretch of highway in April. We will clean on

April 13, 9am to Noon


April 16, 4 to 7pm

If you can join us, please sign up on the sheets in the Friendship Hall, or write to us using the contact form, linked above.

Adopt-a-Beach, Alliance for the Great Lakes  Beach Cleanup, Saugatuck

Saturday, April 20 from 1-3:30, Beach cleanup day. Find details on the event and register here:


Thanks so much for any and all help you can give in cleaning up and in sharing these events ahead in your communities!

Kudos for Our Mentors


Please follow the link to learn about two of the 2019 Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame inductees, our own Creation Justice Team mentors Ken Freestone and the late Patty Birkholz.

They are both so deserving.

The induction ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m., May 15, 2019, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. People who want to attend should email the event chairman, Ron Brown, at rnbrown227@gmail.com.

EmpowerU! Advocating Invasive Species Management 

Do you work to combat invasive species in Michigan but feel compelled to do more? Learn how to work with decision makers, influence management decisions and stop the spread of invasive species.


In conjunction with National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Michigan State University Extension is launching an online course called, “Empower U! Advocating for Invasive Species Management” to move your invasive species work to the next level.  


Woodland and shoreline owners, master volunteers, and natural resources professionals can grow their skills to meaningfully engage decision makers about invasive species. Through the course you will learn how to craft your own argument to persuade decision makers about the importance of invasive species (aquatic and terrestrial) management or removal in your area.  


The course begins on March 2, 2019 and consists of 5 weeks of online sessions (around 1 hour/week), concluding with an in-person workshop on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Okemos (attendance required).


Through this 5-week course, which consists of a series of self-paced online learning activities and one in-person workshop, participants will: 

  • Gain understanding of the roles and levels of government and whom to contact regarding invasive species management.
  • Learn to use skills such as influence, power, persuasion, framing, questioning and listening in interactions with decision makers. 
  • Know where to find reputable information on the status of invasive species in your area.
  • Create an engagement plan and experience practicing it in a safe, peer-learning environment.
  • See yourself as a resource to decision makers on invasive species management.
  • View engagement with decision makers as a norm and encourage others to do it, too.
  • Network with other people passionate to make a difference around invasive species. 


The cost is $30/person and includes access to the online course, handouts and lunch on the 29th.

Click here to register today! Deadline for registration is Friday, March 1st.


Questions? Contact Julie R. Crick, Natural Resources Educator, Michigan State University Extension

(989) 275-7179; crickjul@msu.edu

Tomorrow – New Ways to Love a Tree

Hi folks. We are hoping to entice Dr. Winnett-Murray and Dr. Murray to come to Douglas to teach us about our trees and all the way they contribute to our neighborhoods and waterways. But these two and their expertise are available RIGHT NOW, or at least tomorrow, in Holland. Here’s the scoop. Stay tuned on more opportunities to catch up with them and their programs:


Saturday, January 26

Haworth Inn and Conference Center
225 College Avenue, Holland, MI 49423

This event is open to the general public and is sponsored by Public Affairs and Marketing.

Admission to the seminars is free. Lunch is $13. For additional information please contact: Lynne Powe (616) 395-7860 or powe@hope.edu

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Registration: Haworth Inn and Conference Center, 225 College Ave.
All seminars will be held at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center

9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

New Ways to Love a Tree – Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. K. Greg Murray
Ballrooms 1 and 2, Haworth Inn and Conference Center​​​​​​​

It may be the dead of winter, but the tree outside your window is very much alive, 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 Mike Jipping and his app-savvy students — found new ways to love trees. They’ll share the story of what they invented and how they hope it will promote the value of trees to the communities of Holland and Hope College. It’s a story about the benefits of trees now and in the future.

Drs. Greg Murray and Kathy Winnett-Murray, professors of biology, have been studying trees (and the things that live in them and near them) since they came to Hope 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.

CJT’s Sarah, Intro to Mountain Sunday

Sarah’s soaring intro to Mountain Sunday, for the last of three services in our Creation Justice season. Enjoy:

Essay about Mountains — by Sarah Swift –9/23/18

At the August meeting of the creation justice team we had a lot to cover  — September is Creation Justice month ….- cleaning beaches and highways and launching our community wide book read.

There was a smaller item on the agenda – we were asked to raise our hand if we were willing to do a reading on either Planet Earth, the Skies, or the Mountains.  I raised my hand – and was assigned Mountains. I had expected that when the time came I would be handed something to read. I was wrong about the ‘hand me something to read part.’  

Before I start talking about  mountains, let me first say that mountains have not been a significant part of my life.  Raised in very flat central Michigan, the first “mountain” I ascended was Sugarloaf, as in that little bump of a hill that was a ski “mountain” — for a brief while.

In my twenties, living in Boston I was introduced to the “real mountains.”   One fall day I climbed my way to the top of Mt. Washington, the largest mountain east of the Mississippi.  Beginning in autumn forests and passing through a minor snowstorm to reach the summit. It was beautiful and exhilarating and breathtaking – literally.  This was the beginning and end of my exploration of mountains.

The Creation Justice committee is focused on the environmental issues that surround and impact us. We respond by becoming educated and then proactive with regard to that we can protect, recover, improve and sustain.  Water, air, animals, nature — things that are integral to nature and our lives.

The question then is how do mountains fit within the realm of  Creation Justice?

A very long time ago Mountains began rising up from the center of the earth.  The oldest mountain range on the planet, the Barberton Greenstone Belt is in south Africa and is 3.6 billion years old. NIcknamed  “The Genesis of Life,” the geological components of these mountains provided information to geologists that allowed the scientists to estimate the ages and origins of all  other mountains in the world.

On a human and more personal level, we describe mountains as  majestic, magnificent, peaceful and powerful. They are described as:  awe-inspiring, grande, godly, imposing, beckoning, inspirational, dangerous, unpredictable.

We are drawn to their vistas and views.  We see them as a backdrop that will never change.  And yet we also know they can launch into motion without warning — an earthquake, an erupting volcano, a severe weather event:  all have triggered instant chaos, destruction and death.

In religious and spiritual realms mountains have always had meaning: – either as gods, or tools of gods, or as the settings for the greatest stories — of conflicts, revelations, sacrifices, inspirations and miracles.  

So is there any threat from mankind to mountains that are, in human terms, eternal?  Yes — the most significant threat is from mining. Strip mining in particular – which is happening in 24 states currently with no sign of stopping.  High value minerals, metals and fossil fuels can only be extracted by mining. If a mountain either contains or sits upon one of these compounds then they are a target for devastation.  

Strip mining is desecrating mountains in the southern Appalachians – only 9 hours from here. Mountaintops are being stripped bare of everything green and living to extract coal. More than 470 mountaintops have already been sheared off — leaving behind debris including trees and coal dust that are   contaminating rivers and streams. This particular mountain range is 1.2 billion years old. Man dates back only 200 thousand years, and in a fraction of that time found a way to exploit these mountains.

But there is hope for the mountains.   In a world where power is the end-game for countries, corporations, political leaders and even single individuals, the power of the mountains are still greater. They rise and fall and shift and settle, and may even sink beneath the oceans but they do not disappear. They are from the earth and of the earth and as long as there is earth there will be mountains.

I will end with a writing that underscores how mountains sustain themselves —

This is a passage written by John Muir- mountain man, journalist, scientist, explorer.  He was the force behind the bill to set aside Yosemite as a national park – inspiring the later formation of the national park system.  He was also the founder of the Sierra club, an environmental and political force still very active today.

In March of 1872, Muir was camping in valley in Yosemite near a mountain wall he had been studying for months.  At 2:00 am he was was awakened by an earthquake. The earth turned to jelly, the mountain roared and then a massive slice of the mountain wall he had been researching collapsed into the valley.  When it all finally stopped and grew quiet he wrote this:

“Nature, usually so deliberate in her operations, then created a new set of features simply  by giving the mountains a shake – changing not only the high peaks and cliffs, but the streams.  

As soon as the rock avalanches fell the streams began to sing new songs; for in many places thousands of boulders were hurled into their channels roughening and half damaging them, compelling the waters to surge and roar in rapids that changed to meadows, through which the streams are now silently meandering…Thus rough places were made smooth, and smooth places rough.  But on the whole, by what at first seemed pure confusion and ruin, the landscapes were enriched…..In this work of beauty every boulder is prepared and measured and put in its place more thoughtfully than are the stones of temples.”

Muir went on to conclude that this was a “Fine lesson; and all of Natures wildness tells the same story – the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort – each and all are the orderly beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.