Lighting up Highland Park!

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The news is breaking: Highland Park has a solar-powered streetlight.

On Thanksgiving, we gathered together at dusk. The sunset was particularly beautiful that evening. The glow lasted in a sky with few clouds. As darkness fell, we filled the empty street, forming a ring around the light. It was like watching water to boil – we knew it would happen, we didn’t know when. It got quiet. Moments became hours. All the work, the stress, logistics, arguments, fundraising, became compressed. We’d scrambled for funding and footing, scheduled and rescheduled, and hashed and rehashed. And just when it seemed like we’d have to postpone, the money came, the logistics became logical, and on Tuesday, Craig from SolarStreetlightsUSA drove out here to put it in the ground. AJ was up in the cherry-picker with him, wiring the wires and connecting the connectors. The press, the city, and the people were all present. By Thursday, the news had already broken, and this ceremony was effectively unimportant. But it was Thanksgiving. This was what we’d waited for. It was a small crowd – Andre, AJ, Lawrence (dressed as St. Nick), my family, a few people from the neighborhood. In the shadows of the original Model-T factory, we waited to see our work come to fruition. Continue reading

Building Solar Energy in Highland Park

My name is Jackson Koeppel. This is my first blog post about my work through Grand Aspirations for solar energy in Highland Park this year. For those who don’t know, Highland Park (known locally as HP) is its own city, entirely surrounded by Detroit. It was the center of the Ford manufacturing economy, and was built to house affluent autoworkers who were once upon a time paid a fair wage. The place I live now, two rows of red apartments with a courtyard between them, used to be hospitality suites where Henry Ford housed distinguished guests to his Model-T factory, located three blocks away. Most of them no longer have electricity or running water. Keith and Diane Hoye, the current owners, housed the Green Economy Leadership Trainees last summer. Continue reading