Christ Congregational Church is one of five congregations whose green teams are actively promoting native plants through the Sacred Grounds project in the Sligo Creek watershed. Guided by dynamic green team leader Alison Peterson whose energy for healing God's Creation and our relationship with it is best expressed in her own words: "I'm not one to be sitting around!" Alison shared that she had a "watershed moment" when she went out into her local neighborhood after a rainstorm to witness where the storm water was going. It goes into Sligo Creek, a beautiful greenway loved by its local residents who enjoy biking, hiking and relaxing along its shaded pathways.  But heavy rains that do not have enough places to be absorbed cause erosion and carry pollutants into the stream that flows into the Anacostia River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

The program offered focus groups to develop their outreach messages within and beyond the congregations about why native plants benefit the community and the ecological environment. Additionally, members of each congregation attended webinars offered by National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Friends of Sligo Creek) FoSC and IPC about “Why Plant Native Plants?” and were supplied native plants for a Mother’s Day Plant Giveaway.   

Her green team attended IPC's Faithful Green Leaders Training and Alison was impressed that it started right off with a personal story - that of the keynote speaker - and offered time for participants to practice "Sharing Your Environmental Story" with one another. She thought this was a great team building exercise and shared that her own story began when she participated in an ecology group in high school, motivated by seeing the compelling “Keep America Beautiful” commercial with a crying Indian (1971) which had a deep effect on her awareness of environmental pollution.  

Keeping her team engaged in environmental action is a key commitment of Alison's leadership. She values the learning she gained from the Faithful Green Leaders Training about structuring animated meetings with the "1/3 rule" - 1/3 inspiration, 1/3 information, 1/3 action.  She also acknowledges that "many people have an aversion to committee meetings but if you can bag plants or show your garden for the native plant tour, that’s great!" Knowing the gifts of talents of your green team members facilitates their participation and enthusiasm. And that's exactly what happened during Christ Congregational Church's engagement in the Sacred Grounds program. In addition to the native plant giveaway they collected nearly 40 pledges from people to plant native plants contributing to the program's goal of over a 100 pledges from homes in the watershed gathered by the five participating congregations. "Sacred Grounds was an easy lift! NWF offered a defined program with a measurable goal that took a lot of organizing, which is my forte," Alison reported. "They supplied the graphics, the messaging (social marketing, behavior change) and the native plants!"  Christ Congregational Church is also one of IPC's Partner Congregations. The other four congregations that participated are the Silver Spring United Methodist Church, the Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church (Partner Congregation), Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, and Kemp Mill Synagogue. The project is a collaboration between the NWF Sacred Ground, FoSC, IPL-DMV, and IPC. 

Their participation in this project has been an example of loving watershed action through teamwork!