BE THE SPARK

"Be the Spark" is a dynamic and experiential leadership development workshop series that builds interfaith community and gives participants premier organizing tools and strategic approaches for engaging their community of faith in climate change solutions.

Be the Spark participants learn how to invite the gifts and skills of those in their community to take action that inspires a sustained and creative effort in building a more just and sustainable world.

The next 14-hour Be the Spark series will be held in February / March of 2019. Stay tuned for dates, or email [email protected] if you're interested in a custom Be the Spark training for your community.

Background

We believe that faith communities have a pivotal role to play in bringing about the cultural and political transformation that we need to address climate change.  Currently, faith communities are not as strong of change agents as we need.  How can we build engagement so that we have a powerful interfaith climate justice movement capable of bringing about rapid social transformation through advocating for climate, racial and economic justice?

The purpose of Be the Spark training is to offer organizations and individuals a leadership development and organizing model to activate their faith communities.

Be the Spark Alumni

Be the Spark helped me build confidence and a systems/complexity-oriented approach, both of which have been essential for my work in climate justice. The workshop also provided me with a sense of groundedness and connection with the climate movement that has supported (and will continue to support) my work over time.

~ Rachel Kerr, St Anthony Park United Church of Christ

“Be the Spark helps you connect what is deepest within you (your faith commitments, your experiences, and your dreams) to a vision of a better world, and then take concrete steps toward making that vision a reality. More than that, you will meet others who will share this work, and who will become companions on the road.

~ Rev. Susan Mullin, Director of Faith Formation, Faith United Methodist Church, United Methodist Church Global Ministries Creation Care Team

“Be The Spark has given me the confidence to work for climate justice in my faith community. I learned to be able to go out of my comfort zone so that future generations can just be comfortable. BTS provides the organizational skills to act in my faith community. It could well be the best 4 Sunday evenings that you have spent recently. Don't miss this opportunity!”

~ Lorraine Delehanty, Co Chair of the Care of Creation Team, St Thomas More Catholic Church  

“The most important part of participating in Be the Spark was the opportunity for me to connect directly with the movement - to meet other people who are actively working on Climate Change in their faith communities and beyond. Looking back, I can see that those four sessions with MNIPL played an important role in preparing me to take on the organizing work I'm doing now in the United Methodist Church and Citizens Acting For Rail Safety.”  

~ Cathy Velasquez Eberhart, Prospect Park United Methodist Church

 

 

Why Organizing

Change happens through organizing.  Simply developing solutions (Energy Efficiency, Carbon Reduction Policies, Solar Energy) does not mean they will be widely adopted.  Organizing builds a container of community identity, motivation, relationship and accountability that can lead to the sustained implementation of solutions in widening circles of faith communities.

Organizing for long-term sustained action on climate change is most effectively accomplished through relationship building, organizing training, and strategic planning. The Be the Spark curriculum features some of the most effective organizing tools and strategic thinking from Marshall Ganz, the New Organizing Institute, and Training For Change and has been adapted specifically for implementation in faith communities.  We share how to support the development of leadership in individuals and core teams and assist them in planning their approach to taking sustained action for climate justice.  

Our Approach: Capacity Building & On-Ramps for Action

At MNIPL we have two main bodies of work as an organization: Capacity Building and On-Ramps for Action.  In our Capacity Building wing we offer Be the Spark leadership development and organizing trainings yearly as well as tailored Be the Spark trainings for individual faith communities, conferences, and denominational gatherings.  We have a Youth Be the Spark program in which we offer outdoor leadership experiences for youth and support an ongoing Youth Leadership Team who facilitates educational and organizing trainings to youth and adults.  We offer core group consultation and strategic planning support to teams in faith communities as they develop robust action plans with a focus on growing their communities’ involvement and growing more engaged leaders.  We offer Community Climate Conversations that core teams use as a catalyst for furthering dialogue and sparking community-wide consideration of acting together on climate justice.  

On the On-Ramp side of our work we implement the practices of capacity building, relationship focused organizing and organizing, in our action teams.  We have a Solar team, Energy Efficiency team, Fossil Fuel Divestment/Reinvestment team, Policy team and Movement Development Team.  Our teams are filled with staff and core volunteers including board members.  We tend to the life of the team with a focus on lifting up the gifts of all members and building authentic relationships with each other.  We support the teams in developing action opportunities that not only work for solutions but build the movement.  We utilize the concept of the Three-legged stool of Climate Justice Action so that our action opportunities are practical, movement building and systemic, as well as Relationship building and Spiritual. 

Facilitators

Julia Nerbonne - Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL) and teaches Environmental Ethics and Sustainability Studies at the University of Minnesota. She has been organizing volunteer leaders to be powerful change-makers for over a decade.  

Erin Pratt - LPC is the program director at MNIPL where she designs, coordinates, and facilitates programming for MNIPL and individual faith communities. She is also a facilitator and Climate Organizing trainer for MN350, a Minnesota-based climate justice organization, and for 350.org, an international climate organization. Erin's training is as a therapist working with children, youth, and families in crisis, specializing in nature-based settings. Erin brings a relational-based approach to organizing that she finds effective when working with people in faith communities.