“Green” Renovations

My family are doing some renovations to our house right now. Since the best advice is to “write what you know”, this column is about our kitchen renovation.

The main point of the renovation we are doing is to add insulation to our 1930 house – moving the house from R10 to R24. We tear apart the walls from the inside to insulate – as opposed to what many people do, which is insulating from the outside. This is a project that has happened in stages, starting about 8 years ago. We do the bulk of the work ourselves.

We’ve progressed around the house room by room, and have nearly completed the house. Since we save the hardest for last, we are now working on the kitchen.

The “not so green” part is that there wasn’t really anything wrong with the kitchen (except uninsulated walls). The cupboards, countertops and flooring are about 30 years old. All were showing wear and not fashionable, but still functional.

I suppose the greenest thing we could have done was to take out the cupboards, insulate the walls, then put the cupboards back. However, we figured that we’d update while we had things ripped apart, and we hope to add a bit of functionality to the layout. Habitat for Humanity now has the old cupboards to sell at their ReStore. The flooring will go to landfill.

To do 2/3 of our main floor, we’ve had 3, 6-yard bins of demolition material hauled to landfill. Most of it is lathe (thin, splintery, wooden strips), plaster, and lumber. The wood is full of nails so it can’t go to the City’s compost depots. We might have been able to separate out the wood and take it to Loraas for recycling, but we didn’t figure out the logistics of that.

One concern with cupboards and flooring (and furniture) is Volatile Organic Compounds. VOCs are basically things that create odor – both good and bad. In flooring and cupboards, VOCs are chemicals in glues and paints that evaporate over time. Some VOCs are not healthy to breath over the long term. We asked the suppliers about VOCs in the cupboards and flooring, and were told that they were low in the materials we ordered. For a future renovation, maybe we would ask for more detail than that, and do some independent research.

We will be installing new lighting, which will of course be LED, ENERGY STAR® certified lighting. We felt we needed a bit more lighting in two areas of the kitchen. When we went to look for fixtures, the supplier tried to talk us into putting in much more lighting. We thought about it, but couldn’t see a reason for over-lighting the space. Instead, we are adding lighting just in the areas where we felt there was a need.

We don’t plan to replace any of the appliances until they need replacing. That is an environmentally friendly action that is motivated more by finances than ethics. It means that our appliances won’t match the décor in the kitchen for a few years. When we do replace them, we will choose ENERGY STAR rated appliances. We’ll choose a smallish fridge which suits the needs of the 3 people who live in our house. And we’ll choose a self-cleaning oven, since they are better insulated so operate more efficiently than others. We may also choose an induction cooktop because they are more efficient than other electric cooktops.

I’m quite excited about the countertop we plan to buy. It is Eco by Cosentino, and made of recycled glass, porcelain, etc set in a corn based resin. It comes in various colors and patterns that look like stone. When cooking, I’ll likely spend time staring at the countertop trying to guess what each piece was in a previous life.

Angie Bugg manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church. You can contact her at angieb@environmentalsociety.ca “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

Angie Bugg manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church. You can contact her at angieb@environmentalsociety.ca
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)


Calling for Equal Right for All who Live in Palestine/Israel

Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (WCC) has issued a call to sign a petition during the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel.

Stop the illegal Separation Barrier!

The National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine and the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches invite you to sign the petition below to:

  • immediately stop the illegal construction of the Separation Barrier on occupied land,
  • dismantle the sections already constructed on all occupied territory, and
  • replant the uprooted olive trees and compensate farmers who have lost their trees.

Will you read the petition and take 30 seconds to sign it right now?
Your Excellencies,

Representatives of foreign governments to Israel and Palestine,

We, Palestinian Christians, along with people of goodwill in the global community, ask for your prompt intervention on a matter of utmost urgency.

Recently the shocking situation in the Cremisan valley and Bir Ouna has come to the attention of the world. Israeli forces have been uprooting hundreds of olive trees in order to clear space for a new section of the Separation Barrier. This new effort to annex occupied Palestinian territory directly affects Palestinian wellbeing. These developments have been distressing for the entire Palestinian community. It has a direct impact especially on Palestinian Christians, who are made more vulnerable by these actions from the Government of Israel. This is a clear violation of international law.

In its Advisory Opinion, released in 2004, the International Court of Justice concluded “that Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence … or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall…. The Court accordingly finds that the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law” (Para. 142).

Fr. Aktham Hijazin, parish priest for Bir Ouna, has warned the world: “When you destroy the olive trees, you also kill the people here.” And we remember the words of the Bible, “You must not destroy trees by wielding an axe against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down” (Deuteronomy 20.19).

Just four months ago the High Court of Israel rejected the Israel-planned route for the wall along the heart of the Cremisan Valley. It was acknowledged that this route would bring great harm to the convent, monastery, and school located there. The route would also directly impact privately-owned parcels of land, destroying olive groves and with them the wellbeing of local communities.

Despite this previous judgment, under official Israeli pressure, the High Court inexplicably allowed a new interpretation of its ruling to take force. As a result, work began immediately on construction of the wall through the Cremisan Valley.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Cremisan, remaining firmly committed to non-violent struggle and prayer for the area. The Israeli legal system appears to have been manipulated for the benefit of the occupation régime; all options within the Israeli legal system have been exhausted. We therefore call on international intervention to pressure Israel to return to the original ruling of its High Court. Without such pressure, the State of Israel will continue to act with impunity, humiliating the dignity of our people, threatening the livelihood of Palestinian communities, and insulting any effort toward building a just peace.

The construction of the wall on occupied land is a breach of international law – the Cremisan Valley is only the latest victim. Local Palestinian Christian communities urge you to put pressure on Israel to:

  • immediately stop the illegal construction of the Separation Barrier on occupied land,
  • dismantle the sections already constructed on all occupied territory, and
  • replant the uprooted olive trees and compensate farmers who have lost their trees.

In hope,
National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine
Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches

Click here and add your name to this petition! 

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

At the Annual meeting of Saskatchewan Conference in May 2015, the Conference adopted a proposal to Call upon the congregations and ministries of Saskatchewan conference to annually remember Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in our prayers on the Sunday immediately prior to October 4th which in 2015 actually is October 4.

In May 2014, the RCMP confirmed that there were 1,181 reported cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women in the last 30 years.

According to Canadian government statistics, Aboriginal women and girls are three times more likely to experience violence than any other population in Canada, and five to seven times more likely to die from that violence.

Our prayers are needed and this link will take you to some prayers created by Alydia Smith of General Council Office www.united-church.ca/files/planning/theme/aboriginal_prayer.rtf

But the annual meeting called for more than prayers, calling upon congregations and ministries to remember by educating ourselves, and by encouraging individuals to participate in the Sisters in Spirit Vigil on Oct 4 each year. For more information


and if there is not a vigil near you, you can light a candle on this site http://www.october4th.ca/


Israel’s Other War: Boycotts Emerge as Big Threat

“The 10-year-old boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has gathered steam, prompting a fierce backlash.”

This article in the Toronto Star affirms the impact of the BDS.  I suggest that it is a good overview of how the media is picking up on the Israeli reaction to the BDS movement. It suggests we are on the right track – a good supplement to the discussion of BDS at the UNJPPI AGM.

Read the article

Responses to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

The news has been filled lately with news about the refugee crisis in Syria. Our own Moderator has contributed to this news. There are many people wondering what we can do – within and outside the church. Here are some suggestions:

General Council has recently put out a list of three ways to contribute to the Syrian crisis: pray, donate to humanitarian relief and sponsor refugees. One other way I can think of to contribute is to contact your local electoral candidates and talk to them about their party’s policy on refugees. You may want to use the United Church of Canada’s Federal Election Kit (see page 25). The Canadian refugee system is currently under resourced and limits the amount of private sponsorships that can be made.

It is difficult currently to sponsor Syrian refugees because of the bureaucracy of the process and lack of civil servants working the cases. As soon as a Syrian family is available they are sponsored by one of the many organizations in Canada which are involved in private sponsorships. The best way to sponsor a Syrian family is to be in contact with Syrian families in Canada who wish to bring their families here. If you have contacts with the Syrian or Muslim communities in your neighbourhood that might be a good place to start.

Otherwise refugee sponsorship is always very important and I would encourage your churches to engage in this process with families from other regions that are in turmoil. Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese families to name just a few are also drowning in the Mediterranean and are in dire need. However the refugee sponsorship process is a long one and a sponsored family may not be landed in Canada for years. Contact our Refugee Program Advisor Khwaka Kukubo at refugees@united-church.ca for more information.

That being said, the humanitarian need in the Syrian refugee crisis is great. Lebanon for example is the home for literally millions of displaced Syrians and its resources are sorely taxed. Making monetary donations to the United Church aid organizations (especially with the pledge from the Canadian government to match aid dollars) would be a good response.

Some places that offer more information on the Syrian refugee crisis include:

Report of the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction

On August 24, 2015, the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction released its report of Recommendations for a Provincial [Saskatchewan] Poverty Reduction Strategy.

To read the full report of the Advisory Group Click Here

Regina Anti Poverty Ministry submitted a brief to the Advisory Group lifting up the following topics:
1.  Economic Rights
2.  Adequate Income Security Benefits
3.  A Living Wage
4.  Affordable Housing
5.  Quality Childcare
6.  Equity Initiatives
7.  Fair Taxation: Closing the Gap

If you wish to read this brief or any portion of it: Click Here

Advocating for an end to the Israeli occupation and settlements

A new book by Walter Brueggermann was commended by several people at the UNJPPI AGM.  The book,  Chosen?  Reading the Bible Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict  (Westminster/John Knox Press, Kentucky, 2015), was reviewed by Rev. Brain McIntosh.  Please visit the United Network for Justice & Peace in Palestine and Israel website for the full review.  http://www.unjppi.org

The book is available on Amazon (Kindle edition is $9.99 Can.)