Community organizing is a process for achieving social change through the mobilization of resources and the formation of collective identity. Relational community organizing is a particular approach to developing new leaders and building organizational capacity for sustaining a powerful movement, and is especially relevant in the climate justice movement because relationships serve to bring actors from isolation and despair toward communal identity and hopeful action. Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL) is a community organization that is using relational organizing to activate faith communities to take action on climate change. This paper describes the design and first phase of evaluation of MNIPL’s Movement Builder Program, a networked distributed leadership model that uses peer mentors to increase the efficacy of new organizers. Can a peer-to-peer network increase the leverage of organizers? Will supportive relationships move people to increased action and to develop the leadership of others? We provide an introduction to this inquiry as well as the foundational frameworks and historical context of this new approach.
Climate justice, community organizing, collective identity, distributed leadership, faith communities, motivation, networks, relational organizing, social movements
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Divakaran, Bethany M. and Nerbonne, Julia
"Building a Climate Movement Through Relational Organizing,"
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies:
2, Article 7. Available at: