CLEAN California Campaign Launches To Promote Clean Local Energy Access Now

A broad partnership of business, community and environmental groups has come together to accelerate the development of California’s clean energy economy. Global Exchange is a partner of the Clean Coalition which this week announced the launch of the CLEAN California Campaign. The CLEAN (Clean Local Energy Access Now) Campaign is promoting policies that will accelerate the implementation of clean energy projects by removing barriers to selling clean local energy to utilities and connecting these projects to the grid.

“I applaud the CLEAN California Partners for their leadership on creating clean energy jobs and protecting families from rising fossil fuel prices,” said Assemblymember Das Williams.

Along with Global Exchange, the CLEAN California Partners include the Clean Economy Network, the Los Angeles Business Council, the US Green Building Council California Chapters, the Galvin Electricity Initiative, the Local Clean Energy Alliance, the American Biogas Council, Pacific Environment and many other organizations, including private companies. The full list of Partners is available on the CLEAN California Campaign website:

“We need broad support to help California maintain its national leadership on climate policy action by driving the transition to a clean energy economy,” said former California Energy Commissioner John Geesman. “The CLEAN California Campaign will play a critical role in enacting policies that will create jobs, attract businesses and private investment dollars to our state, and set the foundation for our economic growth.”

Global Exchange Green Energy Director June Brashares said “Global Exchange is excited to be promoting the policies that will rapidly increase clean energy projects in a way that expands opportunity to allow more people to participate in producing clean energy and results in broadly distributed benefits.”

The CLEAN California Campaign promotes policies to meet Governor Jerry Brown’s call to install 12,000 megawatts of new renewable energy projects in California communities by 2020. The Campaign’s primary policy objectives are CLEAN Contracts (also know as Renewable Power Payments or Feed-In Tariffs) and interconnection reform.

“Ramping up local clean energy is the best way to accelerate the replacement of polluting power plants while avoiding risks to environmentally sensitive land,” said Rory Cox from Pacific Environment.

“CLEAN Programs result in new clean energy projects on the ground right now,” said Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and Special Advisor to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “CLEAN projects are integrated into existing buildings and disturbed lands in our communities, without delays for new transmission lines or major environmental reviews.”

“Clean Local Energy Accessible Now Programs are unparalleled in creating clean energy markets across the globe,” remarked Craig Lewis, the Executive Director of the Clean Coalition. “A CLEAN Program tailored for California will spur the development of our clean energy sector and fundamentally reform the process for connecting clean energy to the grid, in order to assure that clean local energy fulfills its tremendous potential.”

The San Francisco Green Festival hosted a session on “Accelerating the Transition to Clean Energy” where Panama Bartholomy of the California Energy Commission and Stephanie Wang of the Clean Coalition spoke about the potential of CLEAN Programs. Ms. Wang noted “The CLEAN initiatives will maximize clean energy job creation, attract billions of private investment dollars, boost state and local government budgets, and reduce electric bills.”

Al Gore at Powershift 2011 Photo Credit: Energy Action Coalition

The third national Powershift conference was held last month in Washington D.C. It was also my third national Powershift conference. The conference overall was a big success, reports were that close to 10,000 people turned out to the Convention Center in Washington D.C.

The 2011 Powershift was framed by an Obama Administration wavering on its support of clean energy, the anniversary of the BP oil spill and the nuclear disaster in Japan.

Powershift conferences are the single most effective event in mobilizing young people around energy and climate issues in the past 5 years. National and Regional Powershift conferences have effectively mobilized 40,000 youth across the country during this time, with those 40,000 youth leaving the conferences and joining the efforts of the Energy Action Coalition partner organizations, including Global Exchange.

Powershift 2011 Protestors Photo Credit: Sustainability At SIUC

While the conferences have brought together young people from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences, the general message coming out of Powershift conferences is to demand action from governments and corporations.

And rightfully so.

The Federal Government has stalled out on significant action to pass a comprehensive climate & energy bill, and fossil fuel energy corporations have recorded an unparalleled series of blunders that have threatened peoples lives and the very ecosystem from which we depend on.

For most Powershift attendees, the conference has been a relief to know that they are not alone in witnessing the insanity of humanity to not deal with climate change and to not unlock the revolutionary power of a transition from dirty fossil fuels to community wealth building renewable energy.

Youth Celebrate in Movement Building Session Photo Credit: Energy Action Coalition

The 2011 conference had a significantly different feel to it than the conferences over the past four years. The collective experience of the young people at the conference brought forth a more diverse message and a movement that is now prepared to take deeper action.

Powershift Nation was less optimistic in President Obama’s ability to make the changes that many in the movement either campaigned directly for him to make or voted for him with the belief that this President would be different. The conference was a wake up call for the grassroots of Powershift that now is the time to start building a more radical and aggressive movement on the ground in communities across the country. Without or without the support of President Obama!

This sentiment even broke through to the national media. Global Exchange partner organization Grand Aspirations’ Matt Kazinka summed this up well in an article from the NY Times:

“I feel like in many ways, a big opportunity was missed to do climate legislation,” said Matt Kazinka, a junior environmental studies major at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. “Right now it seems like there isn’t a lot of opportunity to push large-scale climate legislation through.

“But I also think it’s a good moment for the climate movement to step back and say, ‘Maybe right now the large-scale political approach isn’t going to work,’ just given what’s happening,” he said.

Kazinka volunteered for Obama’s campaign two years ago. Now he’s torn over what he sees as a lack of leadership from Obama on the issue and the reality of a political climate that’s limiting the president, he said. Kazinka isn’t alone.

Powershift 2011 Speaker Photo Credit: Energy Action Coalition


Not only was the larger conference impacted by the political and economic realities of the past 4 years, our Global Exchange Powershift team from Detroit brought forth a unique strategy to the 2011 conference. In collaboration with Green For All and Grand Aspirations, we facilitated the Clean Economy Track, which presented information and strategies being used across the country to specifically build an economic engine that matches the political activism being created by Energy Action Coalition.

It offered a concurrent program to conference participants. While some participants were learning how to tell their story and build organizing teams through the training organized by the New Organizing Institute, the Clean Economy Track presented to people that opportunity to “be” the story and focused more specifically on what organizing teams can do once they are built.

The twin tracks complimented each other and gave a coordinated parting message from Powershift 2011 that young people are ready to start building the clean economy on the ground as opposed to just protest and organize for actions.

This new message was the most easily distinguishable quality of the 2011 conference compared to Powershifts from the past. Powershifters were effectively dismissing the political climate and the disappointment in Obama’s inaction by reorienting and diversifying the movement from lobbying nationally to action locally and from campaigning to business development. We all know we need both, Powershift 2011 was the manifestation of a movement’s collective epiphany.



Powershift 2011 is over. But there is a new opportunity to join the movement coming up. It’s called the Green Economy Leadership Training.

Today, you are being presented with a choice, an opportunity that could ultimately shape the rest of your life. Today, you are learning for the first time about the Green Economy Leadership Training.  Today, you are being invited to join the ranks of the most committed, well trained, impactful people of your generation.  If you choose to accept this invitation, you will shape the future of Highland Park and Detroit.

What you will be learning:

  • You will grow food, produce renewable energy & use energy more efficiently, transform infrastructure.
  • You will become a solution focused individual that recognizes opportunities to participate in improving communities, corporations, governments and institutions.
  • You will learn how to lead projects that will alter the course of the 21st century.
  • You will learn how Detroit and Highland Park are the silicon valley of the green economy.


Program Details:
Location: Highland Park, MI
Dates: June 6th – August 8th.

See you there?


On March 11th, 2011, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake hit the coast of Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami that has since destroyed the northeastern part of the island nation. Entire towns have been swept away, leaving thousands dead or missing and countless others left in danger. The crisis in Japan continues as nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station explode.

Our hearts go out to the people of Japan and all those affected by this tragedy.

Ways to Support Japan Relief Efforts:

  1. Give to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS 90999 and a $10 donation will be made.
  2. Give to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.
  3. For a list of ways in which you can help, please visit the COLORLINES website.

What important lessons can we learn now from this current nuclear disaster? In recent months, dialogue in the United States has favored nuclear power in the renewable energy debate, but if the growing crisis in Japan teaches us anything, it shows us the many risks associated with nuclear power.

The following ten points are adapted from Green Festival Reader by Kevin Danaher and Alisa Gravitz.

Ten Reasons to Oppose Nuclear Power

1. Accidents: As the situation in Japan demonstrates, natural events (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes), which we have no control over, can create havoc due to the instability and toxic content of nuclear power plants.
2. Terrorism: Nuclear power plants are prime targets for terrorist organizations. Imagine if the hijacked planes on 9-11-2001 had crashed into nuclear power plants. The devastation would have been far worse than what actually happened and large areas of the eastern United States would be uninhabitable for decades, if not centuries.
3. Nuclear waste: Waste from nuclear power plants will be toxic for more than 100,000 years. The human race does not even have a language that has lasted that long, so how can we store those toxic wastes in a way that will be safe for that long, plus write messaging that will warn people away from those storage sites?
4. Proliferation: The U.S. government and U.S. companies have been complicit in allowing nuclear technology to spread to many parts of the world. The fissionable material used in power plants can be spread in ways that jeopardize people, property and the planet.
5. Costs: The costs of building nuclear power plants have skyrocketed over the years. What killed nuclear power in the United States was capitalism: it is simply not profitable without massive corporate welfare from the government. While solar, wind and other less dangerous forms of energy have been getting less expensive over the years, the cost of nuclear power keeps going up.
6. Corporate welfare: Private investors have not been willing to finance the construction of nuclear power plants. Nuclear power would not even exist were it not for billions of dollars of welfare payments from the federal government. The same politicians who oppose welfare for the poor and sick seem to have no problem shoveling our tax money into the coffers of powerful energy companies to support dangerous nuclear power plants.
7. Environmental impact: The most important natural resource we have is water, and it is being poisoned and depleted at an increasing rate. Nuclear power uses more water than any other form of power generation: nuclear power takes 40,000 gallons per megawatt whereas wind energy uses just 2,000 gallons. This resource cost will increase as the supply of clean water steadily declines and population increases.
8. Not enough sites: Nuclear power plants must be located near large supplies of water, so drought (a more common occurrence with climate change) can reduce their productivity or shut them down.
9. Not enough “clean” uranium: Uranium mining in the U.S. southwest is notorious for its damaging impact on Native American nations and the workers who mine the uranium. Plus, the recoverable supply of worldwide uranium—nuclear power’s fuel—is dwindling. Scientists have shown that if we tried to generate all of the world’s electricity with nuclear power, we would run out of uranium in ten years.
10. Not enough time: We must find less-polluting energy sources during the next decade if we want to avoid catastrophic climate chaos. Whereas distributed renewables (wind and solar) can be built quickly, nuclear power plants are notorious for taking long periods of time to finance and build.

Once again, to support relief efforts in Japan:

  1. Give to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS 90999 and a $10 donation will be made.
  2. Give to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.
  3. For a list of ways in which you can help, please visit the COLORLINES website.

If you know of other organizations not listed here that are doing great work to support relief efforts in Japan, please feel free to share links and information about them in the Comments section. Thank you.

This post was originally sent to members on our News and Action list. Be the first to take action with Global Exchange and sign up for our e-mail lists.

The first few weeks of 2011 have been a time of transitions. Aside from transitioning to a new year and a new decade, we have seen a transition of power in the US Congress. The new Republican majority in the House threatens to impede real progress with their refusal to cut defense spending, a push to repeal healthcare, and a call to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency.

Global Exchange is prepared to stand with you in opposition to these regressive moves. We will fight to stop rollbacks of progressive policies and continue to push for positive change in our communities at home and abroad. Through grassroots activism we will prevail.

Here are just a few campaigns we have in store for 2011:

  • Transition from corporate interests to humanitarian justice: Corporate interests are among the strongest forces fueling the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. Come February, Global Exchange will host courageous feminist peace activist Dalit Baum. Dalit is currently working in Israel on a project called Who Profits?, an online database that exposes companies and corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation. She will bring her extensive knowledge of grassroots activism to North America, teaching Who Profits’ research methods to the peace movement to infuse their work with new perspective and hard-earned wisdom. The long-term goal is to help change public opinion and corporate policies, moving towards an end to the occupation and a lasting peace in Israel/Palestine.
  • Transition from dirty energy to clean energy: The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest oil spill in American history, and oil from the spill continues to impact lives and livelihoods throughout the Gulf. Through this tragedy we have been reminded of the negative consequences of our dependence on dirty energy and our need to support clean alternatives for people and the planet. One year after the devastating Deepwater Horizon explosion, Global Exchange’s Energy Program Director, Antonia Juhasz, will release her book Black Tide, a “searing look at the human face of BP’s disaster in the Gulf and exposes the human failings and the human cost of man-made disaster that will be with us for a very long time.”
  • Transition from free trade to Fair Trade: Despite almost ten years of commitments from Hershey’s to take responsibility for their cocoa supply chains and improve conditions for workers, significant problems persist. Hershey’s lags behind its competitors when it comes to taking responsibility for the communities from which it sources cocoa, so we’re calling on them to “Raise the Bar” and go Fair Trade. This year, we’re working on several ways to get the word out about Fair Trade through various campaigns such as Sweet Smarts, National Valentine’s Day of Action, Reverse Trick-or-Treating, and more.
  • Transition from climate change to system change: After the Climate Talks in Cancun this past December, it was clear that Western leaders favored corporate-driven solutions for climate change over community-based solutions. Although the climate agreement that came out of Cancun ignored thecommunities directly affected by climate change and the rights of nature, Global Exchange continues to advocate for climate justice in the upcoming The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Nature. The book, set to be released in April, will reveal a movement driving the cultural and legal shift that is necessary to transform our human relationship with nature away from being property-based and toward a rights-based model of balance that no longer views nature as property to be destroyed at will.
  • Transition from a greed economy to a green economy: Casino capitalism is wreaking havoc on the planet, but there is an alternative. It’s called local green economies – urban agriculture, locally controlled clean power, and sustainable industry — and we’re building them in Michigan, California and across the country. We’re also traveling from city to city sharing a message of a greener future at the Global Exchange co-sponsored Green Festivals – the biggest and best sustainability event in the country. Celebrating its 10th year, Green Festival will be expanding to the two biggest cities in the US — New York and Los Angeles.

You make this work possible. Thank you to everyone who gave a gift last year. We still need your support in 2011. None of our work is possible without the financial support of our members. Help us make the necessary, positive transition. Donate today!

Despite the new Republican leadership in the House, the grassroots movement has a great and important opportunity to be leaders in the fight for peace and social justice. We hope that you will join Global Exchange in 2011 to resist injustice, envision alternatives and take action.

Couldn’t make it to the San Francisco Green Festival this weekend? Or maybe you went, but just can’t get enough. Well, you’re in luck because TreeHugger enlisted founder, Bill McKibben to interview various Green Festival participants about their involvement in the green economy, in a TreeHugger Exclusive.

Global Exchange and Green Festival Founder, Kevin Danaher took some time from the weekend festivities to share some words about the future of the green economy with Bill McKibben and Jerry James Stone.

See more of  TreeHugger Exclusive interviews from the 2010 San Francisco Green Festival with Bill Mckibben, including one with Gabe Wisniewski of Greenpeace.

Be sure to check out the #GreenFest twitter feed to see what the twitter community was saying about the SF Green Festival all weekend as it was happening.

Extra Credit!: See Bill McKibben on the other side of the interview table in his interview with David Letterman as he talks about his latest book and solar panels.

Election day is just two weeks away and Global Exchange is working hard on an electoral campaign in California challenging the oil industry over a measure that has significant national and global implications.

Big polluters, Koch Industries and Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro, are spending millions promoting a deceptive initiative on California’s ballot, Proposition 23, trying to kill the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act. A recent editorial in the Sacramento Bee stated “If Proposition 23 were to pass on Nov. 2, it would be a major setback to state, national and international efforts to fight global warming.”

“The Stakes are High”
Recognizing California’s importance as a bellweather state that leads the nation to new environmental standards, economist Thomas Friedman recently wrote in the New York Times about the Prop 23 battle and quoted George Shultz stating that “if we get something that is working here to clean up the air and launch a clean-tech industry, it will go national and maybe international. So the stakes are high.”

We must stop the oil industry’s Prop 23 from blocking our environmental legislation and prevent Prop 23 from harming the burgeoning green economy, green jobs, clean tech and renewable energy investments.  During the current economic downturn, the clean tech sector has been the only sector adding jobs.

Help Global Exchange defend and advance the green economy by defeating Prop 23! Take action today!

If you’re in California, you can volunteer with the campaign by distributing campaign materials, making phone calls to voters and assisting at events. For more on volunteer opportunities, e-mail June [at] globalexchange [dot] org.

California residents should also check out the Climate Energy Tour (a fiscally sponsored project of Global Exchange) that is traveling the state utilizing solar powered hip hop concerts to motivate and inform people to vote NO on Prop 23. The tour kicked off on 10/10/10 in Oakland and will visit Santa Barbara (Oct 16), Los Angeles (Oct 19), San Diego (Oct 21), and Sacramento (Nov 1) to inspire audiences to join with Communities United Against The Dirty Energy Prop.

Not in California? You can still get involved to spread the word about this important proposition.

  • Tell your family and friends in California why they should vote NO on Prop 23.
  • Phone from your home to California voters to urge them to vote NO on 
Prop 23.  To get plugged in, call June at 415-575-5542.
  • Write a letter to the editor of a California newspaper. See letter writing tools.
  • Use your social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.
  • DONATE! We’re up against Big Oil’s deep pockets and we count on donations from people like you to succeed.

With oil interests spending millions to confuse voters, the polls indicate that the vote is likely to be close.  To defeat Prop 23, we need all the help we can get in the last weeks before the vote on November 2nd.

For more information about the No on Prop 23 campaign, contact June at 415-575-5542 or email June [at] globalexchange [dot] org. Also visit the websites of Global Exchange’s coalition partners: 
Communities United Against The Dirty Energy Prop & Stop the Dirty Energy Prop.

The 2010 Climate Bill fight is over.  It’s time to forget about it and move on.  For one thing, it wasn’t very good in the first place. As David Reberts notes over at Grist, the fact that a bill didn’t pass really isn’t a result of a failure on the part of the youth climate movement to make enough noise as much as it is a result of the elected officials just not understanding the implications and benefits to our economy that a bill could bring.  Even more telling is how Roberts also points out that the bill didn’t pass even though it was severely compromised:

“As it happens, extraordinary measures were taken in every iteration of the climate bill to protect Midwestern coal states: free pollution permits, consumer rebates sufficient to make the working and middle class whole, massive subsidies for CCS development, support for trade-exposed industries, pork for nuclear, on and on. The architects of climate legislation went to almost comic lengths to accommodate the substantive concerns of coal state senators. Coal utilities supported the damn bill!”

Coming out of all this, for the first time in quite some time, I am actually excited in the response the Obama Administration has started to take on climate. It is like some sort of super efficient L.E.D. light bulb clicked over in Washington D.C. this week.  In the past two days, the White House held a conference call with youth environmental leaders, declared that solar hot water & photovoltaic panels are going up on the White House and the Department of Interior announced 750 MW of solar installation on public land.  Even more important than all of this is President Obama’s declaration that 2011 is the year that his administration will make significant headway on climate and energy.

Time to Seize Momentum

To truly build a clean energy economy, it is of my opinion that we need to open up the technology for every community and individual to have the opportunity to directly participate in said economy.  A great example of what this could look like is written about in Billy Parish’s recent piece in Huffington Post, describing one of the first community owned solar projects in the country.  The project involved a community in Maryland where residents that didn’t have much solar exposure, got together and formed a company, University Park Community Solar and approached a local church with a large roof and good solar orientation. In exchange for placing solar panels on it’s roof, the church would be guaranteed a long-term low price of electricity.

The only problem was that the community faced numerous roadblocks and regulations that ended up causing the group to take three years to finish the project.

Shifting to Deployment

If we want to open up the technology and start making massive steps forward, it is time to consider a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) strategy in the U.S. or in individual states.  A FIT could help projects like solar panels on the White House or the University Park Community Solar Business sprout up faster than possibly any other mechanism.  A Feed-in Tariff  is a policy that allows for the accelerated development of renewable energy systems within a given area. A FIT is based on providing a guaranteed rate that a utility will purchase clean energy back from a local producer, and this rate provides a fair return on investment to that producer, or ownership group, making the project a viable business proposition.

In a recent Rolling Stone interview, President Obama states:

One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our overreliance on fossil fuels. We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation. But we’re going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it’s good for our national security, and, ultimately, it’s good for our environment.”

The strategy President Obama lays out  leads me to believe that we need to be very strategic about the pieces of an energy policy that we as the youth really want in a climate bill.  It is not enough for us to hold signs and meet with our Senators asking broadly for climate legislation.  We need to pick up truly effective policy mechanisms – such as FITs –  become very well educated on the issue, and advocate until we win.

Ultimately, a policy like a Feed-in Tariff is much more important that just setting standards for emissions reductions and quotas for renewable energy & energy efficiency.  A Feed-in Tariff could help usher in a new era of “energy democracy.”  This means that we could even the energy playing field, so it isn’t just the big utilities and energy companies that control electricity, but every American can begin to participate in building a better, cleaner, more exciting and versatile energy system right now.

This past Friday, after overcoming my hesitancy to let Facebook infiltrate another aspect of my life, I gave in and watched “The Social Network.” I’m going to go ahead and say it but, this movie is definitely a defining moment for the millennial generation, our generation.  It is proof that we are about to be stepping into the primes of our existence in the U.S. and worldwide.  The fact that the largest grossing movie this past weekend is based on a dot com idea hatched five years ago in a Harvard dorm room, is proof that our ideas are starting to be the cultural norm.  If you are not ready for that realization, consider this a wake-up call.  Mark Zuckerberg (the creator of Facebook) is 26, making him 20 or 21 when he created Facebook.

Getting into the movie, I realized that there are some clear take home messages we can apply to the Green Economy movement.  The best part about the movie is the divide between the guys who create the Harvard Connection and Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg.  In the movie, shortly after Zuckerberg releases his pre-curser to Facebook, called ‘Facemash’ he is approached by two rich and privileged brothers, The Winklevoss twins.  These two have everything going for them, including captains and Olympians in training for the Harvard row team, hold a 3.9 average and belong to the most prestigious & exclusive social club at Harvard.  However, this is where the movie gets interesting and the story of Facebook becomes a defining moment for our generation.

Frank Chi recently touched on this in his Huffington Post piece,

“The Social Network is about social upheaval in the digital age. It’s about the ability of a new media class to deconstruct centuries worth of privilege and access that would’ve won in every other generation but now.

The Winkelvoss twins had an idea. But they didn’t have the intellectual capacity to execute that idea. They fell back on the assumption they can just buy off a “code monkey” with the trappings of the social structure that has defined paths to power since social structures existed.

In the new media age, the communications industry will be defined by people who not only have an idea, but the ability to execute them.

Mark Zuckerberg is a visionary and a coder. The Winklevoss twins? They’re just wannabe middle men. That’s what makes Zuckerberg so dangerous to the established media industry – an industry full of old middle men who don’t have a clue on how to execute the ideas they talk about. … It’s the ability to have an idea, say it, execute it immediately, and change the way we think – big or small.”

If you ask me, I see nothing but parallels to the Green Economy movement.  We currently stand at the threshold of a decentralized, clean energy revolution that could blow the doors off of the old energy economy.  This old energy economy is controlled by arcane government policies and protections for utility companies, oil drillers, the coal industry, and a host of other outdated & irrelevant technology for the 21st century.  However, the mainstream strategy of those of us working for the green economy is to try to create new laws and regulations, lobbying congress and pushing for a silver bullet climate bill to save us all and create magical green jobs.

image: energy action coalition

As the movie shows us,  we can’t just advocate for a new technological age we are entering – if we are to be successful we have to have both big ideas but also have the technical know how of how to make those ideas real.

After seeing the movie I immediately started thinking; why should we expect the same outdated utility and energy companies to bring forth the revolutionary idea that could change our energy system forever?  Is policy really the best mechanism to create a revolution in energy in the United States and worldwide?

It also points out glaring gaps in the clean energy movement right now.  Where are the engineers that also understand the social fabric of our society and can bring a game changing idea to fruition?  We know we have all the carbon-free, renewable energy available to us right now.  But we have not learned how to harness the individual human’s ability to participate in a new system.  Should we be spending our every last waking hour and precious monetary resources on lobbying our Senators?  Maybe we can render their opinion irrelevant.  Consider Facebook now has 500 million users, is world-wide and was started for less than $1000 by basically 1 person.  Let’s do the same thing for the Green Economy that Facebook did for social networking, we need to make it accessible for every American, and every person on the planet.  Don’t say it isn’t possible.  Facebook proves otherwise. We can’t depend on the old way of doing things when our generation has the ideas and the ability to get the tools to make those ideas real.

With this realization, I enrolled in Oregon Institute of Technology’s Renewable Energy Engineering program and am taking my first class online starting this week.

Oiled GrassAntonia Juhasz, Director of Global Exchange’s Energy Program was interviewed by Kevin Danaher, Global Exchange Co-Founder about the impacts of BP oil spill and what it means for our economy. Following her fifth trip to the Gulf Coast Juhasz reported what is happening in the Gulf Coast; how the oil spill affected the economy and the local communities; how Washington, DC and BP are dealing with the situation; and what the media are saying.

Antonia spent weeks in the region interviewing local people and researching for her new book. She wrote two articles to Huffington Post and was interviewed by Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman about the effects of the BP oil spill. She’s been working extensively to report on the oil spill and greatly increased the knowledge of those who participated on this webinar.

If you missed the opportunity to hear those two activists/intellectuals, the recording of the webinar is now available for purchase, for only $5, at

For other Global Exchange’s webinar visit: second Green Careers webinar and first Green Careers webinar.

If you would like to know more about Antonia Juhasz background, visit:
Follow Antonia on Twitter and Facebook

If you would like to know more about Dr. Kevin Danaher’s background, visit:
Follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook

(This summer, our Michigan team is working with GreenNation on the Green Economy Leadership Training program. This entry was written by GELT-er Ayoola White. Cross-posted on

Caulk gun? Check.

Window kits? Check.

Toolbox? Sink aerators? Clipboard? Check, check, check.

Every morning, for the week and a half that the GELT team performed weatherizations, we hustled to prepare for the day. We gathered our supplies, called Highland Park residents, and hurried off to our destinations. People generally tend to regard all neglected communities as if they were identical, but we quickly recognized that no two houses were alike, neither in their weatherization needs nor in their family dynamics.

At every household, we were offered a little peek into the stories of those who lived there. Many of the narratives were nonverbal, implied in sighs, creaky stairs, and the giggles of children running around. Karina, an outspoken woman who has resided in the area for a long time, actually took the time to verbalize her story to my partner and me.

What surprised me so much about Karina was how freely she spoke about events in her personal life, especially to two young strangers. She had no qualms whatsoever about conveying her feelings about her ex-husbands, her ailing mother, her battle with drug addiction, or her complaints about certain neighbors. Her narrative was more than a little shocking, but, in the end, she gave a simple, yet moving account of how she took a step toward ridding herself of her pain.

Until recently, Karina never felt comfortable in her own home. To her, the walls held memories of toxic relationships and bitter shouting matches. In her studies as a student of natural healing, she eventually realized that she had to change her surroundings if she was to take control of her life. So she painted her walls a whimsical shade of pink.

Karina’s fundamental lesson for us was the importance of honoring oneself. People without self-respect and self-love are like black holes that swallow everything, even light. They make destructive decisions and can never truly move forward.

Listening to Karina’s story has made me realize that we cannot forget that there are individuals in the environmental movement. Coalition building and community organizing are vital, of course, but we cannot simply regard ourselves as identical cogs in a machine. We must learn our strengths, hone them, and adapt them.