Friday, May 23, 2008
Solar power at Little Earth
I attended this wonderful event at Little Earth yesterday, where solar panels were installed to offset energy expenses. The plan is for the entire community to have a panel on each home.
The keynote speakers were Van Jones and Winona LaDuke. What I found interesting to note here is that both were adamantly opposed to the Midtown Burner proposed by Kandiyohi Partners ( R.T. Rybak no doubt felt uncomfortable). Both also feel we can change course nationally on energy policy, putting forward initiatives like this one.
Van Jones observations that our younger generation need better alternatives than they currently are receiving. He stated that many are entrepreneurs and leaders already, but are doing the wrong things. Selling the wrong resources in a society that needs what it does not and that our society needs to move from a wasteful pollution-based economy to a zero-waste green one.
Winona discussed how White Earth would be setting up a 250 kilowatt wind-turbine with the help of SMSC. Hugo Chavez is supporting this project more than they are, but she isn't concerned with this. Winona is quick to point out that over half the potential wind-power in America is on Native American reservations. These tribes have more potential power than they can currently use, making them potential exporters of their local energy resource. I also appreciate that she used the word "relocalization" as this is what we need more than a corrupt top-down system that Americans consider as standard.
Jason Edens of RREAL spoke briefly. His organization brings solar-heating systems to families on energy assistance. His analysis is that we are subsidizing the oil and gas companies with these programs and not focused on long-term energy assistance. Local energy production would alleviate low-income families more than fossil fuel dependency does. Jason also believes we are going to face Peak Oil, and should have local solutions that do not leave the poor frozen in their homes.
I can't help but remember seeing SMSC Vice-Chair Glynn Crooks sitting next to Annie Young, Minneapolis Park Board - At Large - Green Party. I do not know where Glynn stands politically, he's more of an investor. I do know that SMSC donates large sums of money to the major two parties. They hedge their bets like any large business would. But if the new eco-jobs are to have any meaningful expansion in this century, they will need more individual investors. Government grants, be it from the US or Venezuela, should not be seen as the basis for a future society.
Glynn did not stay for the food, music, or visit the booth for supporting organizations. He's quite busy and I do not blame him. But for the sake of "green jobs" in the future, we will need investors like him engaged in the communities through projects similar to this. Peak Oil is a serious matter for those unable to hold jobs during the chaos that it will entail. Those with jobs will find they are "priced out" of a middle-class lifestyle. The American way of life will change or die, and conscious investment in our future will determine a more positive outcome.