I like thinking of myself as a solutioneer. I feel like part of a network of people spread out across the world, who share a commitment to create a better world. I’ve always liked diving into problems, being the underdog, finding systems where a subtle change repeated hundreds of times results in a transformation
I grew up playing in the woods of the Adirondacks in New York. My family’s house is filled with my kind of toys – books from all over the world, Legos (technics, the kind that can actually make machines) and a basement with tools and materials galore. If I wanted to do something, whether it was building a racecar, making a tree fort, reading about Africa or creating tramlines to carry rocks out of the basement, I did it. There was always something that required thinking and hands and a bit of work.
Most of my time at Williams College was spent building organizations. Getting people together, defining a goal and then finding the pieces we had at our disposal to make something happen. I’ve felt an interesting contrast between the satisfaction of building organizations with people, and building furniture or machines or forts out of wood and rock and metal. One is exciting because of how many people it involves and the transformative process that working in a group can have on individuals. The other is exciting because its precise and tangible and will continue to exist and serve a function even when no one is paying attention.
I remember the first time I really grasped the overall strategy of the climate movement, or at least defined it for myself. Climate activism is unique, among activisms, because it has so much work ahead of it after the policy goals have been reached. I want to pass bold climate policy, and I want to shut down coal plants. These things are paramount. And as those start to happen (EPA freezing MTR sites?!?) I start to get an even better sense of just how much work there is ahead!
I am living in Long Island, a place I never thought I’d end up. I’m way out on the north eastern tip, so its rural and near the ocean, and not as bad as the suburbia that I cringe at. And I’m working for a renewable energy company, Eastern Energy Systems. I’m helping to grow the business by applying skills of organizing to a growing group of passionate solar installers, and I’m plotting how to start installing more solar hot water systems. I’m linking the business with the activism that needs to happen, such as the upcoming in-district meetings with congressmen. I’m working 12-14 hour days, and loving it.
There is so much to do, and I love that thought. There are challenges with reaching the sheer number of homes in this country (110 million) and there are challenges with feeding oneself and getting around while doing that. I need to figure out a better way to get around in a world with only one bus and a train that runs twice a day. I need to figure out how to make solar energy the thing to have, and I need to figure out how to make it affordable so it can be had by all. And I need to train the new workforce in not only working on solar, but in making a business run better.
The time is now, lets get started. I hope you all see yourselves as solutioneers.