In the past week or so, Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF, the energy efficiency co-op I’m heavily involved in) has started to get off the ground and had several meetings with ‘adults’ or older, wiser, experts in the field, to talk about what we are trying to do. Generally these meetings were incredibly helpful, people were willing to donate their time and expertise to listen to our plan, give us advice and help us move forward. These people were excited to hear about what we’re doing, thought we are smart and engaged, however almost all of these meetings included a discouraging section in which we were told we had a lot of obstacles to overcome and it was unlikely we would succeed.
Part of the reason that I enjoy working with CEF is that it is incredibly visionary; we are trying to implement a model that has never really been done before. We have done our homework, researched efforts going on around the country, know the materials, and have spent a lot of time developing effective training and teaching methods, but our process is very experimental, constantly changing and generally somewhat uncertain. We also have a lot of challenges to face, but I have never thought of these as things that cannot be overcome, merely something we have to figure out.
Yet these adults came up with question after question of how this was all going to work, a lot of which I didn’t have answers to. They pointed out flaws and potentially insurmountable difficulties, and I started to become discouraged. These people were all incredibly supportive of us, they liked our ideas, our enthusiasm, but also wanted to make sure that we understand what we are up against and ground us in the fact that what we are trying to do probably won’t work. It was somewhat of a stark awakening.
Part of me wants to believe the logic that these people presented; they have a lot more experience than we do and understand more thoroughly how difficult it is to start a new venture. But, I also realize that if we don’t try and make these fundamental changes to society no one will. A larger part of me believes in our vision, in our ability do something bigger than we thought was possible. If everyone listened to the strong voice of the status quo and refused to take risks or try something that has never been done before because it seems too difficult our society would still be stuck in the Stone Age. Already CEF has tested and stretched what I thought I was capable of. While we don’t have the answers yet, and we do understand that there is a lot for us to overcome, I still believe that it is worth wile to try. I am learning to enjoy being the naive college student that can listen to the discouraging words of older generations and then say I’m going to do this anyways. Summer of Solutions has given me the chance to enact a vision of the future I didn’t used to think was possible, and even if our work doesn’t come to fruition I have learned so much in this process there are no doubts in my mind that it won’t be worth it- and if we can make it happen we will have done something incredible.