BE THE SPARK

The work of building a more just and sustainable world is collective work – no one person or organization can change the world alone. We are part of a movement of people who care passionately about this world and the people who live in it. Our ability to influence change at the Capitol, help our neighbors transition into more sustainable energy, and repair the harms of centuries of greed and extraction is dependent on people like you and your willingness to organize your friends, neighbors, and communities to live differently in this world. 

Be the Spark is 5-session series of conversation and training that will help you grow your capacity to organize, build your skills through connection with other passionate people, and help you inspire others into climate justice work. As you progress in the series with your cohort, you'll get tools and practices that will help you inspire your people, focus your purpose, and identify tangible actions for successes you can celebrate. Further coaching and workshops will also be available for folks who complete the series.

You really can Be the Spark that leads your community to deeper climate action.

Spring 2024 Series

We're excited to announce that we will be hosting a Be the Spark series in early 2024! Save the dates and sign up for the information session below!

Be the Spark Spring 2024 Series Dates

Info Session: Thursday, February 29 | Noon - 1 pm CT
Session 1: Wednesday, March 27 | Noon - 1 pm CT
Session 2: Wednesday, April 10 | Noon - 1 pm CT
Session 3: Wednesday, April 24 | Noon - 1 pm CT
Session 4: Wednesday, May 8 | Noon - 1 pm CT
Session 5: Wednesday, May 22 | Noon - 1 pm CT
All sessions will be on Zoom

We are asking people to make a suggested donation of $200 per person to MNIPL when they sign up. If you have more to give and would like to, please do to make it possible for us to sustain this offering for everyone, regardless of their ability to donate. If $200 is outside what you can offer, please make a donation of whatever feels meaningful to you. If you can’t give at all, please still sign up – we need you there, too.

Questions? Contact Liz Loeb at liz@mnipl.org

Interested in signing up?

The sign up for the cohort will be live soon, but for now we're hosting an Info Session on Thursday, February 29 to share more details about the content of the series and to find out how to sign up.

Please also invite anyone you think would be interested!

Your Be the Spark Facilitators

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Julia Nerbonne, Executive Director

Julia brings her skills as an organizer and academic to build a vibrant movement for climate justice in over 400 Minnesota congregations. She has an undergraduate degree in Religion and her Ph.D. in Conservation Biology. She also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Conservation Biology Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on how to create powerful social movements.

Between 2011 and 2014, she was the founding Director of MN350. She has also spent over 18 years teaching ethics and sustainability studies to college students at the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs and at the University of Minnesota. She is a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul. When she is not working, Julia enjoys playing the fiddle and reading about history. She doesn’t always enjoy large crowds, but when there is a message to deliver, you’ll probably find her out on the streets with her kids in tow.

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Liz Loeb, Associate Director

Liz Loeb is a civil rights attorney and community organizer with twenty years of experience working in political and social movements for justice. A graduate of Brown University, Liz holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and a Ph.D in critical social theory from the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Liz has worked as an international human rights attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and as an attorney with the national ACLU criminal justice project, where she was part of the litigation team that won the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Safford v. Redding, which led to a national prohibition against forced strip searches in public schools. Liz led the successful statewide campaign to defeat the 2012 Voter Restriction amendment and recently served as Co-Director of Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice & Social Transformation.

 As Associate Director, Liz supports all aspects of MNIPL’s organizational development, with a special focus on civic engagement, relational organizing, and grassroots fundraising. In all of her work, Liz hopes to nurture MNIPL’s ability to create and sustain organizational practices that are grounded in a commitment to racial justice and to the conditions of collective liberation.

Testimonials

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

When a speaker at my parish community told me about Be The Spark, I realized it was just the push I needed to move forward. After going through the program, I learned that meeting people, listening to their stories, and building relationships gives People Power. Now I have planning strategies and how to take action that helps make the Change. 

— Peg Musegades, Pax Christi Catholic Community, Eden Prairie

“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, 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

Other Options

We also offer an "on-demand" series from time-to-time. Email liz@mnipl.org if you are interested in bringing Be the Spark to your organization, congregation, or group.