It’s Solarthon season! What does that mean? As some of you know, that means I’ve signed up to help install solar panels for low-income families with GRID Alternatives. And I’m asking for your help to sponsor me.
A big thanks to over 100 friends and family members who sponsored me for the 2012 San Francisco Bay Area Solarthon! Thanks to your help, I was the top individual fundraiser for the third year in a row and broke my own record at a fab $4,800! Excuse all the exclamation marks, but it’s exciting to me.
Community power is springing up everywhere! There’s a huge amount of interest in it – in fact, as I noted almost a year ago, it’s really a movement, and one that keeps growing. This was in evidence at the recent San Francisco Bay Area Community Solar Confluence I organized, which was co-sponsored by the Solar Gardens Institute and the Local Clean Energy Alliance. It was part of a series of similar events this spring in Boston, New York, and Omaha.
Any regular visitor to this blog has read more than once about the GRID Alternatives Solarthon. After participating in this “solar barn-raising” last year, I was hooked. And that’s not surprising, since the event combines two of my favorite things: solar power and community. It’s a celebration of the work GRID does all year, and it provides an inspiring example of what people can achieve together.
At a recent EcoTuesday gathering in San Francisco, Sue Amar, Sustainability Officer at salesforce.com, referenced what Malcolm Gladwell calls the “law of the few” (aka the 80/20 principle), according to which 20% of the people will bring about 80% of the changes in the world. She’s a prime example of this herself, having single-handedly started a robust sustainability program at salesforce.com.
On Friday night I was lucky to be able to attend the Green Building Super Heroes Awards Gala, sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. You can read more details about it on my EcoTuesday post. For me, the highlight of the evening was when GRID Alternatives won the award for Outstanding Community Organization. A little over half a year ago, I hadn’t heard of GRID. Their co-founder, Erica Mackie, spoke at an EcoTuesday evening I attended last spring, and it was her description of what they do that led me to participate in their annual Solarthon in July.
You may know from my post on hiking that I value the idea of a strategic initiative, taking one action that affects many areas at once. George Lakoff, in Don’t Think of an Elephant, notes that focusing on alternative energy is a powerful strategic initiative, because it affects not just energy and sustainability but a host of other areas, such as jobs, health, the environment, foreign policy, developing countries, and more. This is a major reason I’m drawn to alternative energy; it gives a lot of bang for the buck, and it deals with the most urgent issues facing humanity today. Continue reading “GRID Alternatives Solarthon: a mega-strategic initiative”