Building the climate movement in the Northland!

Over 25 congregations in Northern Minnesota are working in interfaith collaboration to grow the climate movement, bringing our communities to the next level in organizing for a just and sustainable future. We work together to carry out solutions that are practical, create systemic change, and foster strong relationships. Join us! Come to one of our upcoming events, or contact our Northern Minnesota Director Bret Pence to get involved at [email protected]

Current Projects

AICHO Solar Array

A 12 kilowatt system installed on the American Indian Community Housing Organization’s (AICHO) Gimaajii building for supportive housing would provide many opportunities for the low-income community that lives there, including energy savings for the building and educational opportunities about solar power and renewable energy for all ages. The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL), and AICHO are working together to fully fund this impactful installation. Read more about this incredible project here. 

MNIPL members in Northern Minnesota were key partners with AICHO, RREAL and Ecolibrium3 all the way through this project. Since 2015, MNIPL and RREAL have worked with partners to petition the MN Public Utilities Commission and Minnesota Power to invest in low-income solar programming. This in part resulted in a $25,000 grant from Minnesota Power ratepayers for the project! MNIPL also served on the project’s planning team and we raised over $6,000 for the array itself!

This is in large part due to the incredible giving from local donors and congregations including:  the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth, Pilgrim Congregational Church UCC of Duluth, the McCabe Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, the Duluth Clean Energy Team, Northstar Chapter of the Sierra Club, and many generous individuals.

Our Work

We are engaged congregants and community members from a broad range of backgrounds who are focusing on solutions and projects representing  MNIPL's three paths of engagement in  climate organizing:

Practical – Carbon Reduction

  • Work to develop community solar, including special opportunities for congregations

  • Support energy efficiency solutions across the boundaries of faith, neighborhood and income.

Systemic Change - Policy Advocacy

  • Engage in conversations, public events and letter writing to bring the need for climate action to the forefront

  • Join with statewide and nationwide movements such as the Clean Energy and Jobs campaign to advocate for specific public policy measures

  • Advocate for stronger opportunities for solar power across Northern Minnesota

  • Investigate the fossil fuel Divest-Reinvest movement and options for individual and institutional action

Spiritual/Relationship Building

  • Build hope and strength to continue our work in healing our relationships with each other and the natural world

  • Organize or participate in a  “Be the Spark” workshop series to identify our gifts and commitments to climate action

  • Hold “climate conversations” in congregations across the region to nurture the growth of their “creation care” or “green teams” to address climate change

  • Deepen  theological/spiritual awareness of our connections with the earth and the web of all life which is present in all major religious traditions

The MNIPL Northern Minnesota Network is supported by Bret Pence. Learn more about Bret! 

Bret’s work focuses on supporting the lively MNIPL volunteer network in Northern Minnesota, of which he has been a member since its inception in 2014. He is a resource for energy efficiency and solar project consultation, as also works for the non-profit Ecolibrium3 in the field of community energy. Bret obtained a Master of Art in Management (MAM), with a focus on sustainability and organizational development, from the College of St. Scholastica in 2010, and a BA from Colorado State University before there was a public internet (it’s true!). In between, he was a guide in the Rocky Mountain West and worked for REI. When he is not tinkering with solar panels and trying to figure out how to pinch another watt or two, he tries to get outside as much as possible and has been compared to Sasquatch a few times in his life, hopefully only because of his love of the outdoors. Bret lives in a beautiful neighborhood in Duluth with his wife, Laura, two sons Colin and Davey, and a rather largish cat named Goliath that is sometimes mistaken for a woodchuck.

You can reach Bret at [email protected]