Thank you: 2018 Highlights

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Thanks to all who participated in this incredible year! The MNIPL network of youth, community members, faith leaders, volunteers, and donors collaborated on bold, inspiring action for a just & sustainable world.

Together we…

Launched two visionary Just Solar projects with coalition partners

In March, MNIPL along with Shiloh Temple and the Just Solar Coalition cut the ribbon for the first community solar array in North Minneapolis. The 204 kW project is rooted in environmental justice principles and provides power for 26 neighborhood residents. Community members installed the system as part of a North Minneapolis jobs training program. In Duluth, MNIPL partnered to launch the American Indian Community Housing Organization solar project, supporting AICHO’s mission in education, culture, and empowerment.

Brought 550 faith leaders together to protect water

In an act of sacred solidarity, more than 550 faith leaders united in support of Anishinaabe Treaty Rights, Minnesota’s water, and global climate, signing our letter to Governor Dayton opposing the Line 3 pipeline. The Washington Post, the AP, MPR, and the Star Tribune covered this impactful story. On June 4, MNIPL convened leaders across the major faith traditions to deliver the letter in partnership with Indigenous leaders, the Poor People’s Campaign and the Minnesota Council of Churches.

In September at the invitation of water protectors, more than 150 people gathered to honor the sacred Mississippi Headwaters, which are threatened by Line 3. MNIPL, Honor the Earth, and Minnesota Council of Churches collaborated to host the weekend.

Co-created a culture of kindness with 100 youth

Throughout the year, we created opportunities for youth to fall in love with the earth through outdoor exploration, music, and art. This year we hosted the 9th annual All in the Circle Creative Arts & Nature Camp, bringing together 60 youth and 15 youth counselors to dive into the inspiring world of beavers. Twenty-four youth participated in an overnight youth climate leadership overnight retreat to connect with natural world, build community around caring for earth and learn leadership skills. Each month we held youth leadership team meetings and grew the team to include youth from nine more faith communities.

Challenged the prison industrial complex with solar energy

Together with Solar Bear, the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, we partnered to launch the Returning Relatives Initiative, a solar training program for formerly incarcerated individuals. The Willow River Correctional Facility hosted the program’s first training with 13 participants, and graduates received industry standard certifications. The team then worked with solar companies to employ the program participants.

Supported Bob Blake in launching “Solar Bear”

MNIPL supported staff member Bob Blake in starting up Solar Bear, the first Native/minority-owned solar installation company in Minnesota. In the summer, Bob’s team at Solar Bear completed a rooftop solar array at the Red Lake Government Center, with more exciting projects in the works at Red Lake, White Earth, and in Minneapolis. Incredible work, Bob!

Gathered with 300 neighbors for Unity Iftar Block Party

Together with partners in the Muslim community, we held the third annual Unity Iftar Block Party during Ramadan, the traditional season of fasting and reflection for Muslims all over the world. Muslim community leaders spoke about the importance of caring for the earth, along with stories of women’s empowerment. MNIPL Board Member Ruhel Islam sang the Adhan (Muslim Call to Prayer) from the rooftop of the restaurant, and we shared in a delicious meal of Indian Cuisine prepared by Gandhi Mahal.

Launched the Movement Builder Program with 150 faith communities

 In a bold step to grow the interfaith climate movement, we brought 150 faith communities together for the first year of the Movement Builder program. The program’s structure is based on the “snowflake model” of organizing, where a core group of mentors works to empower and support leaders in faith communities through the state. Our network of community connectors has taken leadership to install solar arrays on churches, host educational events, and participate in marches and public hearings. To all the amazing leaders in our network, thank you!

Convened the first Just Solar People’s Movement Assembly

In March, MNIPL and the Just Solar Coalition convened the first People’s Movement Assembly to move forward a vision of 100 percent access to renewable energy, featuring National NAACP Environmental Justice Director Jacqui Patterson. Together we collaborated to develop strategies that improve solar industry hiring practices and create access. Mark your calendars for the second annual event in March 2019 in honor of the late Ed Owens, environmental justice leader and former MNIPL staff member.

Devon Cupery