How to Build a Fire: A Message from Ellen

When I first moved to Canada, I learned that part of living through the cold weather months meant gathering around a warm fire. Whether indoors or outdoors, time around a hearth means a connection to the elements and a shared peaceful experience. Fire is a place where people gather.

I love this ritual and have become determined to build great fires. They’re built in three stages:                  

  • The first thing you need is tinder. Tinder can be paper, mosses or leaves. – any dry material that lights easily. Placed in the centre, it’s what’s lit to start the fire.
  • The next is kindling. Kindling is usually pieces of small wood or twigs. Tinder burns fast, so kindling is required to build the flame to light the logs. Pieces of kindling are placed around the tinder.
  • Then comes the fuel logs. These logs are lit from the kindling and then burn slowly. Place the logs around the kindling in a cone shape, leaning them against each other. Once these light, the fire can last for hours.

At the end of this month I’ll be celebrating the New Year with my partner, friends and family in our home on the lake, about 3 hours north of Toronto. We’ll celebrate with our annual tradition: at midnight, despite the cold, we’ll be bundled up outside around the fire and under the stars, sharing stories and a toast. I‘ll be stoking and tending the logs as we enjoy this time together.

Reflecting on 2019, it has been an exceptional year for Spring. I’m so proud of our increased capacity and our extended reach. We are now more than 20 associates, and have served over 200 social and climate justice organizations in over 60 countries.

As much as we have accomplished, 2020 promises to be an even more remarkable year. Some of you may have heard about the ground-breaking partnerships we have established with the Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation involving financial resilience training programs aimed at bringing lasting capacity to close to 100 organizations across the globe. Given the strength and energy of these partnerships, we decided to change our program name to FIRE: Financial Innovation and Resilience. Through these collaborations and other FIRE offerings, our goal is to support teams, organizations and networks towards building careful infrastructure and relationships for greater financial strength. Much like the way good fires are made, we are helping to build power slowly and intentionally, offering spaces for sharing experiences, learning new skills and developing new practices.

With the FIRE program and all the work we have planned for next year, we will continue to widen our community. After all, we are all connected around a circle—a generous hearth and place for sharing—and the real fire in the centre is our common desire and passion for a just and life sustaining world.

I look forward to sharing more with you in January. Until then, thank you for engaging with Spring this year. I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful year end, under the stars, wherever you are in the world.

Love, Ellen