Welcome to our third post in our four-part series for Black Green History month! Our first post gave a brief explanation of what environmental justice actually is. In our second post, we learned about the history of environmental justice and how deeply it is tied to the movement for civil rights from Dr. Mildred “Mama Bahati” McClain. This week we’re highlighting people who are finding intersectional solutions to the problems people in their communities face everyday. These leaders aren’t just trying to solve climate change or roll out clean energy infrastructure, they're trying to build a more just and equitable world for us all.
We’re ten days into Black Green History month at Groundswell and excited to share our second post about one of the great leaders of the environmental justice movement. As we continue to examine the connection between civil rights and environmental justice, it’s important to highlight those who built the foundations of this work. Like my mother would say, “you can’t go far if you don’t know where you’re coming from.”
Groundswell celebrates every year by highlighting black leaders in clean energy and climate. The work of these individuals exceeds the call for climate action and aligns with the fight for civil rights - a core tenant of the environmental justice movement.
Today is Giving Tuesday, and as millions of Americans donate to their favorite NGO’s, we want to re-introduce how Groundswell is using our Share Power™ Community Solar program to bring affordable clean energy to people across the district and show how you can join us.
On Monday October 21, 2019, Groundswell hosted a blessing event to celebrate the completion of our 151 kilowatt community solar project located at the Monastery of Washington Province of Friars of the Discalced Carmelite. The project was born out of the Discalced Carmelite Friars desire to establish a greater connection with the community surrounding the monastery and make a positive contribution to it as part of their mission of service. The event also served as the official launch of Groundswell’s Share Power™ Community Solar Program.
On a clear, sunny weekend in mid-September, our community partners at Faith in Place hosted the fourth annual Green Team Summit at Chicago’s Field Museum. People from across Illinois joined together for an energizing exchange of knowledge, questions, and ideas around how to promote environmental stewardship within organizations, engaging in a series of workshops focused on action within communities of faith.
With over 30 years of experience supporting teams, advising projects, and writing reports on urban sustainability; Julia Parzen is a thought leader in the field. Julia wrote for Groundswell about various Opportunity Zone initiatives that are bringing affordable solar energy to economically diverse communities across the country. We’re excited to share Julia’s comprehensive research on a few of the numerous economic incentives available to help inform the urban sustainability field nationally, and connect solar project developers looking to offer similar programs with the resources to do so.
As people around the world celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11, the team at Groundswell gathered to develop a strategic plan for our very own moonshot, the achievement of community power for all. Groundswell’s annual strategic planning meeting is a chance for our leadership and board members to take a step back from our daily work to consider how far Groundswell has come from our founding a decade ago, reaffirm our vision and goals, and plan for the future.
The DOE awarded Groundswell and its partners Elevate Energy, Southface, and Clean Energy Works funds for a research collaboration. The project, called Accelerating Low-Income Financing and Transactions for Solar Access Everywhere or “LIFT Solar Everywhere” will determine the optimal financing and program elements (customer experience factors) that community solar projects need to best serve every member of our communities, and especially our energy burdened neighbors. LIFT will use data from energy efficiency, solar and community solar programs nationwide to analyze how best to serve low-income families.
While I wear many hats as Manager of Business Operations and HR for Groundswell, one role that I am particularly passionate about is centered around Groundswell’s commitment to creating, and maintaining, a culture for our staff that is both inclusive and fosters a sense of belonging.
Celebrations were in order as Groundswell kicked off its second community solar project in D.C. at the 100-year-old St. Luke Baptist church in Ward 4’s historic 16th Street Heights neighborhood. The 55 kW roof installation will deliver 100% of the electricity it generates to 15 low-income families in the community at no cost as a part of the District of Columbia’s Solar for All program, cutting each family’s utility bill in half.
Groundswell recently collaborated with the Solutions Project, a nonprofit that funds renewable energy projects that build public will and interest, to install a solar Smartflower at the LaGrange Housing Authority (LHA). A first of its kind in area, the Smartflower will produce energy that will help reduce the monthly utility bill of LHA’s administrative office. Those savings will then be earmarked to fund future, youth afterschool programming and education.