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Forming a Green Team

By Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield

A green team is a group of people who come together at least every four to six weeks to set greening goals for their community and who work between meetings with other members of the community and external partners to implement those goals. A green team can be as few as four people or as many as 24, but the most effective green teams have these characteristics:

  • Include people with diverse expertise and talent.
  • Include key staff or volunteers who have the time and ability to implement changes.
  • Include people who have personal commitments to and are passionate about environmental responsibility.
  • Include people who are leaders and have power within the organization.
  • Have support from upper management or senior leadership.
  • Meet regularly and are ongoing.
  • Set goals and work with others in the community as well as external partners to meet goals.
  • Celebrate “wins” together.

What Resources Does a Green Team Need?

  • Space to meet: Decide on a comfortable space that will accommodate people easily. Sometimes a living room is better than a boardroom.
  • Food or snacks that are local, seasonal and fun.
  • Meeting times that work for people. Provide the opportunity to call in for those who have young children or the need to be at home.
  • Time to work on projects. Deadlines should be reasonable and somewhat flexible.
  • Inspirational and educational material to keep the creative juices and energy flowing. Take 10 minutes at each meeting to learn something new, such as by learning a text from a Jewish or secular source. This can be a rotating responsibility.

Key Steps to Forming and Maintaining a Green Team

  1. Find a like minded partner or colleague and generate a list of people you think should be on your green team.
  2. Approach them and be honest about the time commitment and what’s expected. green team members should be prepared to come to meetings and to take on at least one project.
  3. Set your first meeting date and time and confirm attendance.
  4. Create an agenda and send it out in advance. Send out at least two reminders the week prior to the meeting.
  5. Green team meetings should be no longer than an hour and a half or two hours. Stick to the time you promised.

Tips from Jewish Greening Fellowship Participants:

 “Realize it’s a process!”

“Give the group time to gel.”

“Get buy-in from key management.”

“Find people who care and let them work with their passion and interests.”

“Identify skills of participants and let them exercise those skills”

“Create opportunities to connect passion for greening in personal lives with work.”

“Delegate responsibilities and then ask people to be responsible about reporting back.”

“Establish project oriented goals.”

“Set goals that reflect the needs/mission of your agency and population.”

“Help people implement their ideas successfully so that they are excited to keep going!”

“Celebrate victories and milestones!”

“Make meetings fun: Wine and cheese or ice cream are always good.”

“Be ambassadors: Spread the word about what you’re doing with colleagues and community members.”

“Be persistent in the face of failure. You may need to reconfigure at a certain point.”

“Provide rewards or incentives.”

“Be open to doing things in a new way. Be flexible.”


Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield is associate director of community engagement at American Jewish World Service. She is also the co-founder and former director of the Jewish Greening Fellowship, an initiative of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Jacoby Rosenfield formerly served as director for program development and Jewish life at the Riverdale YM-YWHA, where she started an agency and community-wide greening initiative. She is a graduate of the Muehlstein Fellowship for Jewish Professional Leadership, a mentor for GreenFaith’s Certification Program for Houses of Worship, chair of the GreenFaith Initiative at Adath Israel of Riverdale, and a governance committee member of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.

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