Green Team Leader Joann Eastlack reported with elation, “When we found IPC, then we really got going!”
Beginning with an action planning workshop offered by IPC at Christ the Servant (CTS) Lutheran Church in Montgomery Village back in June 2019, a cascade of watershed restoration actions began which were consistent with their prior commitment to heal God’s Creation.
Even before joining IPC, the folks at Christ the Servant were already being good stewards! Acting as a newspaper recycling center long before the county started to collect them, and switching to reusable plates, cups and silverware to reduce waste were just a few examples. Joann shared that, “Our members are encouraged to do the same at home, especially reducing the use of plastic water bottles. In our bathrooms a posted sign asks you to use only one paper towel and explains why saving paper, saves trees.” On top of all this, they’ve hosted the community farmers market in their parking lot for eleven years, which brings us to why they decided to initiate and install permeable pavers!
Why did they do this? Joann explained that “Our acronym, CTS, not only refers to our name, but also refers to our three primary tasks: to Care, Teach, and Serve. To begin with, our congregation has had ongoing discussions about improving the church’s parking lot by replacing the current 30-year-old hard nonporous surface with something more environmentally sustainable.” They are also committed (along with other churches within the Lutheran World Federation) to implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) right within their community. This means continually identifying and evaluating hands-on and outreach projects that the congregation can undertake on its own, and jointly with others. The permeable paver project contributes to 4 of the SDG’s: Clean Water, Improving Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Climate Action. Joann said that “the parking lot improvement project helps also meet the congregation’s goals for a more sustainable management of its assets, reduces the environmental footprint of CTS and allows us to raise awareness of protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries against storm water runoff through education activities like this.”
Why permeable pavers? Paving systems that use hardscape surfaces (concrete, asphalt, or compacted gravel) will collect storm water, causing it to pool or run off into local streams. Instead, permeable pavers have a porous surface that mimics the way the ground reacts to rainwater. With funds secured through Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), the congregation was able to pave 4,000 square feet of parking lot with permeable pavers and plant a pollinator garden with native plants of Maryland. Two roof downspouts are also connected into the filtration system. "We estimate that we are preventing 2,400 gallons of runoff for every one inch of rain. The Gaithersburg area averages 38.62 inches of rain per year," Joann reported. To see a video demonstrating how the permeable pavers work click here.
On one of IPC’s Learning Labs Joann shared her wealth of experience navigating the approval by her congregation, grant writing to CBT, and securing a contractor. It is a wonderful example that teaches other congregations! In spite of COVID challenges, the permeable paver project was installed and CTS hosted a dedication on April 18, 2021 in which IPC offered a blessing liturgy for the project. The event was attended by Montgomery County Executive, Marc Elrich and the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection, Adam Ortiz.
Included in their grant proposal was a commitment to educate the broader community about the project. IPC and CTS co-hosted a workshop, ”Protecting Land and Waters of the Chesapeake,” which was held on Saturday, July 17th, during CTS' farmers market reaching the wider neighborhood along with congregation members. Joann and IPC Program Coordinator Kolya Braun-Greiner showed a pre-recorded “Watershed 101” video as part of the workshop, followed by a demonstration of the pavers outdoors and education about the native pollinator plants which provide a colorful focal point for the project. What began with an action planning workshop two years ago culminated in a watershed restoration project and a community education program which informed others about why and how they too could “protect the land and waters.” That’s a ripple effect!
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