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We Are Now Living Earth Center!

Dear CESRM Friends and Family,
The Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry (CESRM) was originally founded in 1996 as a ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) as a way to bring together people from all spiritual traditions in collaboration for ecological solidarity and community resilience. Since its inception, CESRM has grown the Good Counsel Community Gardens, the most visible aspect of its work, to serve approximately 100 community members and their families. It has also served the local Mankato community with educational workshops and spiritual enrichment programs designed to bring people together to care for the Earth. In promoting sustainability and justice for all, it continues to advocate for local, state and national policy change.
In 2016, in order to allow for greater growth and fundraising opportunities, the first Board of Directors was elected, Laura Peterson was hired as the Executive Director and the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization began. While SSND will continue to sponsor the new organization in many important ways, the primary benefits of being tax-exempt under IRS Section 501(c)(3) are: the ability to accept contributions and donations that are tax-deductible to the donor; to apply for grants on a federal, state, or local level; and to receive special tax exemption.

The newly established Board of Directors recognized that for a number of years the full name of the organization was not always used or even remembered. As the organization grows and develops, it was felt that a shorter name that is more easily remembered would be beneficial. After reflecting on numerous possibilities, we are excited to announce that the new name to carry on the traditions and mission of CESRM will be: Living Earth Center!

At present, the Board of Directors has applied for tax-exempt status with the IRS and has set forth a strategic framework to guide our development and future work. The staff and Board embark on building this organization knowing that we are grounded with deep roots in the community of Mankato and in the ministry of CESRM.

Though growth is important to the long term success of the organization, its mission remains strongly grounded in the same charism and values in which it was originally founded: to seek a sustainable future for all through education, advocacy, and collaboration among all spiritual traditions and diverse cultures.
The cornerstone values for the organization remain: sustainability and the commitment to help people find eco-centered solutions, not just in their own lives but also in the communities in which they live; education through opportunity where minds can be opened, ideas can be shared and growth can take place; advocacy through empowerment to bring about systemic change; collaboration and cross pollination to help strengthen healthy thriving local and Earth communities; inclusion by valuing diversity and the interconnectedness of all; spirituality by embracing all pathways that encourage deeper relationships with self, each other, Earth and the Universe; and stewardship by taking care of people and the planet with grace and gratitude.

Throughout the next few months as the non-profit status becomes official, we will be launching the new website and other visual branding in order to better communicate and express the mission of the organization. We are excited to participate in this growth process with you and invite you to join in celebrating CESRM’s past success and Living Earth Center’s future legacy.

Please save the date on August 25th, 2018 for a Living Earth Center Community Picnic to honor where we’ve come from and celebrate the where we are headed. All are invited to an afternoon of fun, music, and food as we usher in this new era! More information will be forthcoming throughout the summer.
We are grateful for all that our volunteers, gardeners, supporters and donors have contributed and hope that the spirit of stewardship for the organization, each other and our community will continue well into the future.

You can continue to show your support by sending your donations to the Living Earth Center, 170 Good Counsel Dr., Mankato, MN 56001. Your support, no matter the amount goes towards continuing the legacy of nurturing the land, people and the community.
We look forward to growing with you.

With gratitude,
Jim Vonderharr
Living Earth Center
Chair, Board of Directors