2022 Year End Reflection - Michigan Interfaith Power & Light

2022 Year End Reflection

Earlier this year, I was mistaken for someone famous. 

A restaurant worker approached me as I waited for lunch: “I just want you to know… I’m such a huge fan," she said, looking at my very intensely. "I love your work." 

For a split second there, I sure did think: “Whoa! Michigan IPL is so much higher profile than I realized! How amazing that our good work is being seen by the public and that faithful climate action is on their radar…” 

Look at our beautiful Board! 

Sadly, I wasn’t quick-witted enough to parlay her mistake into a free lunch.

But the comical exchange got me thinking: What would it look like if our efforts were so successful that nobody could ignore them? What if our wildest, most ambitious hopes for this work were realized?

I imagine newspaper headlines about people of faith and conscience linking arms, taking power back from governments and corporations, and bringing forth a world where all beings—humans and more-than-humans—thrive.

Look at our gorgeous team (including the 2 ladies on screens)!

I imagine a great turning, to paraphrase Joanna Macy: where we turn away from an economy that relies on burning fossil fuels, exploiting workers, and creating sacrifice zones, and turn toward the wisdom that humans can meet our needs without destroying the world and each other.

I imagine a future where the needs, voices, and expertise of those who are suffering most in this climate crisis are put first. Where those of us with some relative means and privilege use our power to assert that the dignity and wellbeing of our neighbors are not negotiable. Not out of charity, but in solidarity—an expression of the deep knowing that our fates are inescapably woven together.

The pressure to meet deliverables and balance budgets, not to mention the emotional toll of bearing witness in a broken world, can make it hard to unleash our prophetic imaginations. But I believe it’s a vital piece of the work, and I invite you to practice the skill. Mistake yourself for a highly-accomplished celebrity if it helps 😊 What would it look like if your deepest longings for our global community came to be? How can we work together to make that vision a little more possible and real each day?

Thank God, this year we have had some critical wins.

The most significant federal climate legislation we’ve seen to date in the US was passed, just when it looked as though all hope was lost. Senator Manchin’s efforts to pass the “dirty deal,” which would increase fossil fuel production, were blocked 4 times and finally killed for good. And at COP 27, the big international climate meeting in Egypt in November, wealthy countries finally agreed to create a “loss and damage” fund to provide relief to developing nations hit by climate disasters. After a century of regional extinction, otters returned to the Detroit River!

I’m also so proud of the work my team and the Michigan IPL community have done right here at home:

  • We participated in and helped plan a Jewish-led, multifaith action outside of a Chase bank branch this spring, kicking off a national campaign to invite people to “move their dough” to banks that don’t finance fossil fuels.
  • We led a project in Petoskey that helped 15 households install solar panels at a 15% discount.
    We worked with 30+ volunteers to engage and educate voters in congregations in Detroit and beyond. Our volunteers learned about the democratic process, helped voters at the polls, and witnessed the vote certification process. Our text banking crews reached over 200,000 Michiganders with information about voting our values, checking registrations, and finding polling stations.
  • We facilitated 4 Climate Conversations to help spark or deepen climate initiatives in congregations, some of whom needed reenergizing after a long period of COVID dormancy.
    We connected almost 350 congregations and faith-based nonprofits with free energy-saving upgrades (our biggest year with the Light the Way program yet!).
  • Our Capital Area Chapter, made up of lay leaders from a dozen Lansing-area congregations, raised money and installed a solar array on the roof of the South Side Community Coalition, which will help the community center continue providing the recreation, education, and vocational advancement that area youth, families, and seniors depend on.

This coming year, we are ecstatic to be leading the Sacred Spaces project, which will provide $1.1 million in energy efficiency work (!!!) to 11 low-income congregations around the state! We are also going to be kicking off a new project, Solar Solidarity, which will provide solar to BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) congregations and create investment opportunities for people interested in shifting their resources into values-aligned projects that support communities who have been racially and economically excluded. We’ll also be exploring how to help congregations become climate resilience hubs, meeting the needs of those they serve amid power outages and during and after extreme weather.

We have only been able to move the needle on climate and clean energy because funders and donors like you have believed in us, and in what we do, enough to lend their support.

If you're able to help us carry on the work by making a financial contribution, you can:

  • mail us a check: 1950 Trumbull, Detroit MI 48216
  • donate online 

If you'd like to catch up, book a spot on my calendar and we'll meet up on Zoom or by phone. 

Yours in solidarity with all life, 

Leah Wiste
Executive Director