Lisa Colton has big, bold ideas about Jews and climate change – The Forward

Lisa Colton plans to galvanize the Jewish community around climate change the same way she sold Girl Scout cookies: with new ideas.

As a Girl Scout, Colton bought a box of each flavored cookie with her own money, cut the individual cookies into bite-size pieces, and offered them as samples. She has sold over 1,000 boxes.

Now 47, Colton, who lives in Seattle, Washington, has applied her marketing intelligence to causes close to her heart.

She spearheaded last year’s Great Big Jewish Food Fest and the upcoming The Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest. The latter will take place from Monday to the following Friday to coincide with Tu B’Shvat, from Sunday evening.

“Instead of just eating nuts and talking about trees, we could take the conversation a few levels and really anchor it in climate action and what we could do individually but, more importantly, collectively,” he said. Colton said.

The Climate Fest was an offshoot of a previous climate festival, The Urgency of Now: Seattle’s Jewish Climate Festival, which Colton launched in January 2020 to rally Seattle’s Jewish community to work with city council on climate change.

Last year, the pandemic forced the festival online, and Colton saw an opportunity to present it to an even wider audience. The inaugural Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest drew 6,000 attendees as well as 165 community-produced Tu Bishvat events focused on climate change. The main programs were organized and produced by two main partners, Hazon and Dayenu.

“Lisa is a force of nature. He is someone who is passionate about engaging the Jewish community on climate change and has the skills and commitment to create a broad platform for learning and action, ”said Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO of Dayenu.

Born and raised in Seattle, Colton, who attended Stanford University, remembers his parents’ dinner conversations early on about how his mother’s educational software company, Edmark, could compete in stores with Disney. .

“Disney had soft software with minimal instructional rigor and was selling billions of units,” Colton recalls.

Throughout her childhood, Colton’s parents engaged her in these kinds of economic conversations. The importance of quality and marketing was ingrained at Colton.

“I got an MBA at the table,” she said.

Colton started her first business, Darim Online, in 2000, when she was 25 years old. She went from being a first content management system and website developer to providing strategic planning and consulting around organizational change.

Next, Colton envisions disruptive innovation – innovations and technologies that make products and services more accessible and affordable – in the Jewish community.

“What I love about my job is that it’s entirely new every two years or so,” she said.

Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, executive director of the Kavana Co-op in Seattle, witnesses Colton’s brainstorming process firsthand during their regular walks together. She said inspiration – like program initiatives – hits Colton during these times, like his suggestion to buy picnic blankets for Kavana’s High Holy Days outdoor programming.

“Lisa is a powerhouse in the Jewish community. She has unique skills when it comes to developing projects and ideas, in that she is both a visionary and a great viewer and is also able to zoom in on details, ”a declared Nussbaum.

Colton encourages businesses to be curious and playful. For example, she taught rabbis and synagogues at the UJA New York Federation that it is more important to have a conversation on social media rather than just spreading marketing messages.

“Bringing joy and awe into places that can seem professional and stark is where the magic happens,” Colton said.

His vision for the Great Big Jewish Food Fest had “all the elements of a Venn diagram,” according to Colton.

In the circle were chefs who couldn’t be in restaurants, cookbook authors with canceled book tours, and people forced to stay home and cook for themselves. Colton assessed how to meet these different needs. The perfect place in the center of the circle? An online food festival.

Throughout the pandemic, Colton has consistently used this model to find solutions to unique problems. She worked with the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF) to form, which designed a cohesive program through High Holy Days broadcasts, social media campaigns and learning opportunities from multiple organizations. Jewish. In addition, she helped organize a list of alternative resources, such as a “Reverse Tashlich” beach clean-up.

“It was another very different pandemic project. A lot of people got involved in things they wouldn’t have known otherwise, ”Colton said. “I had to think about how to take a moment of crisis and loss and turn it into discovery and connection. “

Colton, who is married to art director Jason Colton and has two children aged 14 and 17, goes against the grain in another way. She prefers to let her career bleed into her personal life. Even before the pandemic, she mostly worked from home and chose compromises, like working around midnight to take her children for an afternoon swim.

“My personal, family and professional life are three aspects of the same person, and I don’t feel the need to divide my professional life into a different space,” she said. “I’m incredibly determined to have my hand on the volume knob and be able to mod as needed. I see it as a balance in my life rather than hard limits. “

During festivals, like the upcoming one on Climate Change, however, the volume knob goes up to around 60 working hours per week.

That’s when one of his other talents appears: picking the right team.

“Although I have ideas and a vision, I could never bring these things without brilliant, passionate, wise and generous collaborators,” she said. “It was the real highlight of my career. “

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