Join or Give
One of the easiest ways to start to become an activist for our planet is to join Green Sangha, or make a donation. When you join or give to Green Sangha you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to bring about the healing and restoration of our planet. With your contribution, you are making a vote in favor of environmental activism based in love and the sense of oneness. Green Sangha is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and your donations are tax-deductible. Make your check payable to “Green Sangha” and mail to: Green Sangha, P.O. Box 20261, Oakland, CA 94620. Or, click here to make a secure online donation.
Come to one of our many activities and events. Go to our calendar for a full listing and descriptions: calendar of events.
Perform a Green Sangha Action using our Action Sheets
For the “Deforestation” action, each member of Green Sangha in the town of Fairfax, California, bought ten packages of toilet paper made without chlorine bleach and from 100% recycled fibers, 80% post-consumer content. Each member gave away these 10 packages of toilet paper along with the action sheet to encourage people to switch to a more sustainable product. For the “How to Save Water at Home” action, each member bought 10 faucet aerators and gave them away along with the action sheet.
Get creative and have fun! It’s a lot more fun to give away toilet paper to people than just to hand them an information sheet which they may not read.
Start a Green Sangha Chapter in Your Hometown
Two people is all it takes to start a group! Green Sanghas do three fundamental things: meditate or do some other kind of spiritual practice together, educate and support each other, and plan and perform direct environmental actions using the action sheets from this website (and/or create your own.) Here are a few suggested steps to get you on your way:
- Contact Green Sangha to determine whether starting a Green Sangha chapter in your hometown is compatible with your vision of a spiritually based environmental activist group. We’re available along the way to help people as they build their own Green Sangha chapters.
- Do some reading. Educate yourself in the various aspects of spiritually-based environmental activism. A good place to start your reading is with the articles on this website. They are specifically about the type of activist work that is performed by Green Sangha. After reading the articles, find some books that interest you and are relevant to your starting a Green Sangha chapter, such as books on environmentalism, facilitation of groups, non-violent peace activism, deep ecology, and eco-psychology. Examples:
Clayborne Carson, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Louis Fischer (editor), The Essential Gandhi
Julia Butterfly Hill, The Legacy of Luna
Stephanie Kaza, Kenneth Kraft, Dharma Rain: Sources of Buddhist Environmentalism
Martin Luther King Jr., Strength To Love
Joanna Macy, Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World
Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy
Theodore Roszak, Mary Gomes, and Allen Kanner, Ecopsychology
George Sessions, The Deep Ecology Reader
- Distribute Your Flyer. Set your start date for your first meeting a few months in the future. Download the flyer from this website, changing the place and contact person information. Hang up these flyers at libraries, universities, health food stores, and wherever spiritual folks and environmentalists hang out.
E-mail – We recommend that you use e-mail to keep in touch with each other. E-mail is useful in reminding members when the next meeting is, encouraging members to finish the actions that they committed to, sending directions to the meeting site for new members, etc. Send an e-mail two weeks before the next retreat reminding people of the date, time, and place, and asking for RSVP.Facilitating and the Consensus Model – The emphasis in Green Sangha is on having all the members co-create the group. There is no leader in Green Sangha who “commands” the troops. All important decisions are made by consensus with the group. At Green Sangha we move together or not at all. This means that, if nine people want to do a particular action but one person does not, the action doesn’t move forward. Instead, the group discusses with that one person how that person envisions participating in the action in a way that works for them.Money – The costs of running a Green Sangha chapter are minimal. Buying folders for your group members is a nice thing to do, as there tends to be a lot of paper gathered over a few meetings. The other cost is in photo copies. There are no membership dues at this time to belong to Green Sangha. We want to make the chapters accessible to everyone regardless of income. Donations are of course needed and welcomed.
Atmosphere – We often call our meetings “retreats.” The feeling at Green Sangha is that members work way too hard all week to come to a five hour long meeting. ‘Retreat’ implies that our meetings are spiritual gatherings. We try to create a space that is fun, relaxed, and energizing. We practice the environmental ethic of sustainability by making sure that the retreats are occasions which build up the energy of the individuals who attend. This means creating a safe, enjoyable atmosphere where people can recharge their batteries. We have found that sharing music and food is helpful in establishing a relaxed atmosphere.
Number of People – We have found that a group size of 8-12 is optimal. If the group gets larger than 14-16, you may want to split the group along geographical lines so there is a minimum use of gasoline in traveling to the retreats. Starting out, you may only have a few people come to your retreat. Expect heavy turn-over for the first year as people check out the group for a retreat or two and then drop out. It takes time to build a core group; be patient and soon you will have a wonderful new family.
Schedule – Use the “Typical Green Sangha Retreat Schedule” (below) as a template. Have a copy of your day’s schedule when everyone arrives. We suggest you follow it fairly closely for a couple of meetings and then change it according to your group’s needs.
- Stay in touch. Green Sangha works best when we keep the lines of communication open. We grow stronger when we talk to each other. E-mail us with your ideas, questions, and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Typical Green Sangha Retreat Schedule
Following are typical elements of the monthly 3-hour meeting.
|Gathering of Community|
|Practice Discussion (based on the Principles of GS Activism)|
|Letter Writing to Government Representatives|
|Plan group environmental action|
|Plan next group environmental action|
|Meditation (reprise; optional)|
|Remaining Business: brainstorm for future actions, etc.|
|Closure (Feedback on meeting & closing ritual)|
Orientation – After your first meeting, it’s a good idea to have newcomers arrive an hour early so you can bring them up to date on what the group has been doing. This is also a good time to introduce them to the philosophy of Green Sangha. The articles on this website can help you explain our principles and approach.
Gathering of Community – This is the arrival time for all members who have been to a previous Green Sangha retreat
Yoga or Stretching – We play some music while people stretch their bodies to prepare for mediation. This is a nice way to start the retreat. It gives people a few minutes to settle down in silence after driving. It’s also a way to bring the physical body into the practice of spiritually-based environmental activism. Green Sangha tries to enliven the whole being – heart, body, mind, and soul – to participate in the healing and restoration of the planet.
Meditation – This is a time to dwell in silence together. It is a time to quiet our minds and connect to the Earth. Members can meditate, pray, or just sit silently in a way that is resonant with each individual’s spiritual practice.
Introductions – Have members briefly introduce themselves. Usually we just say our names, occupation, and our environmental engagement; if there’s time, we each respond to a simple prompt, such as recalling our first environmental action, however large or small.
Practice Discussion – This is a time to discuss what it means to do environmental action as our spiritual practice. At each retreat we use one of the principles of Green Sangha Activism as a starting off point. For many this is the highlight of the retreat.
Break – The break is a time to share food and build community. Each member brings a snack to share with the group.
Letter Writing to Politicians – This is a time for the group to share in an action together. The group is encouraged to keep the letter short – no more then a few sentences. For example: Dear Assemblyman Levine: Thank you for introducing the single-use bag reduction bill, AB 158. Since 2006, I have been able to reduce my use of both paper and plastic bags by over 95%, and it’s easy to do! Thank you for taking leadership on this vital issue.
Plan environmental action – Pick one of the actions from the website and/or design your own. Your group will decide together how they want to perform the action. Questions may arise, for example, “How many packages of toilet paper along with the accompanying deforestation action sheet will each member be committed to distributing before the next meeting.?” Normally a Green Sangha chapter would do the action presented in one of the action sheets for two or three months before moving on to the next environmental action.
Consider next environmental action – While the group is working on an action, it simultaneously plans the next couple of actions. Members bring rough drafts of an action sheet (which are usually limited to one double sided sheet) to the group. The group makes suggestions for improvement. At the following meeting the second draft is reviewed and any final improvements are made. Preparing an action sheet is one way for group members to take leadership roles in Green Sangha. It is the responsibility of the person who writes and edits the action sheets to co-ordinate that particular action.
Remaining Business – This is open time in which the group can brainstorm new action sheet ideas or talk about any remaining logistical items. It is also a time to be creative and play. At the chapter in Fairfax, California, we always took time to sing together.
Closure – We end the retreat in a simple, ceremonial way. Standing in a circle, we may each share in a sentence what we are taking home. Or, we may simply chant a few sacred syllables and stand in silence. Other times, a member will “dedicate the merit of the retreat” to the healing and restoration of all life on this planet. We then blow out the candle that we lit at the start of meditation, ending the retreat.
Preparations for Green Sangha Meetings
A Week Before the Meeting
- send email announcing date, time and directions to meeting 2 weeks before retreat
- make copies (from 100% recycled stock, the more post-consumer content the better) of all the action sheets, principles of GS sheet, and poster (make several hundred of the poster for each meeting so members can leave small stacks of them at practice centers)
- buy folders and labels for the folders
- collect/buy materials for the action sheets: toilet paper, faucet and shower aerators, etc.
- compose schedule for meeting, include upcoming retreat dates (make copies for each person)
- prepare remarks for the Practice Discussion based on one of the GS principles
An Hour Before the Meeting
Prepare Kitchen: glasses, plates, forks, bowls for the food the members bring
Gather materials: (for meditation) bell, clock, incense, candle, matches
Group letter writing: pens, paper, envelopes, stamps, address’ of politicians Misc. materials: Sign that says “Welcome to Green Sangha, please leave shoes outside. Thank you”, music CD for yoga.