A poor girl from the projects changing the world. No money, no car, no connections. What she did have was her voice and her knowledge.
The summer before was crazy. A young black man was shot and everyone yelled fire. Riots broke out and protesters were shot. More police shootings.
Come to find out the cop was telling the truth. He did reach for the gun. They found the young man’s palm prints on the police car door, gun powder residue on his hands. A video collaborating the officer’s story was found but no one showed that footage.
Fist fights and shouting matches were the norm this presidential election.
Poison on the news. Poison in the food. Poison in the air and water. The Earth has reached its breaking point and the time to act is now!
She knew we already had the tools needed to fix these problems, we just needed to think outside the box.
Electricity from water pipes. Animal waste and garbage turned to biogas and fertilizers. Printable solar panels and floating solar farms. Parks becoming food forests to feed the neighborhood.
The People. We can’t forget the people. She knew blacks and whites needed to work together if anything was to change.
She told her story to anyone who would listen. Police abuse of power, voter ID requirements, revocation of driver’s license, inapproprioate use of criminal history – these aren’t just “black problems” anymore. These kinds of policies negatively impact all lower class communities, white and black.
Whites may have been responsible for many injustices in America, but they have also been part of the solution.
Rich, white housewives protesting slavery got the abolitionist movement the attention it needed. Union soliders sacrificing their lifes made it possible to end slavery in America.
White lawyers and their families were terrorized for taking “seperate but equal” to the supreme court. Joan Baez sang the anthems of the civil rights movement and hippies stood with Martin Luther King Jr’s nonviolent protesters.
She walked and rode the bus to every “bad” neighborhood she could think of. She went to the projects, the trailer parks, homes that should’ve been bulldozed years ago.
She explained that carbon emissions is why so many kids in their area are have breathing problems. That chemicals used to farm make their way into food and water and it’s making people sick.
“We’re always the hardest hit! We can’t afford to buy the food that doesn’t have a bunch of garbage in it or to live in neighborhoods further away from pollution.”
She knocked on doors and got people registered to vote. Then she had them sign her petition.
“We are voters. Your job is in our hands. If you don’t listen to us we’ll find someone who will.”
It went on to discuss different types of sustainable energy that would work in their city and ways to reverse the damage done by pollution. Explaining how this transformation would give the poor community the economic opportunities it desperately needed.
Before they knew it they had the middle class standing and fighting with them. Then the rich. The governor, who was up for reelection in November, got the message and issued an executive order for the state to switch to renewable energies by 2030 and plans for a carbon tax.
Not satisfied to stop there, citizens formed their own city planning committes. Rather than demonizing those that powered their homes and put food on their tables for so long, they reached out and got suggestions from the workers and owners of the businesses that would be hit the hardest. Trying to replace every job lost with a newer, better one.
In the mountains to the west, variable flow hydroturbines were placed in the water pipes. Abandoned mine shafts became larger hydroelectric plants to provide back up energy. Mountain top wind farms were built on lands ravaged by mining to power more remote communities. Orchards and timber farms were planted getting miners out of the ground and into the sun.
The electric company built an offshore wind farm that powered over 500,000 homes. Rather than clearing acres of land for a solar farms it set up a leasing program for rooftop solar. Homeowners got a reduced rate in exchange for allowing the utility to install solar panels.
City parks planted food forests to grow organic fruits and vegetables. Families came to the parks to play on the playground and buy their fruits and vegetables for the week. This gave cities extra money to fund their transformation.
Low interest loans and grants were given to farmers to build biogas plants. These plants used animal and agricultural waste to generate electricy for the community.
The invention of printable solar panels reduced solar energy to a fraction of its previous cost, making it even more affordable for homes and businesses to install their own solar panels.
The city formed a partnership with the designers of the new panels. Together they launched a pilot program to test them on one of the poorest apartment complexes in the area.
No longer did these people have to worry about paying to light or heat their homes. This put an extra $200-300 a month in the pockets of those who needed it the most. Up to $500 if they had an electric car. For a lot of tenants this meant no longer needing public assistance.
Homeowners and businesses across the state switched to solar. Section 8 landlords were given subsidies to pay for these changes. Green Way Apartments became a model for the rest of the state. It was proof that these changes pay for themselves.
Industries began to convert to renewable energy. Most of the plants in the area had their own power plants that ran on some type of fossil fuels so biogas from landfills and munciple solid waste was a good substitution. Especially since it works well for high heat manufacturing processes. Others generated electricity from water turbines and pressure release valves. This reduced companie’s operating cost and made them more profitable.
The US is the 2nd largest consumer of electricity in the world, using 3.9 billion mwh. Add to that the 3.5 trillon miles a year we drive.
In order for renewable energy to be successful the large scale, centralized model of today’s electric company needs to be thrown away. Each neighborhood becoming self-sustaining.
Most forms of renewable energy don’t work well on a large scale. Acres of land need to be cleared to build solar energy plants large enough to power cities. Open space is becoming scarcer each year and plant life is critical to reducing our environmental impact.
Its going to take time and cost money to make these changes. Sustainable technologies have a quick return of investment, but the public has to be willing to help foot the bill initially. Some people will have to pay out of pocket for these changes.
Renewable energy isn’t about one size fits all, cookie cutter solutions. It’s about each city using what’s available to them.
Except for Green Way Apartments, all the methods and technologies featured in this story have already been successfully tested on some scale. What’s different is the way they were combined to meet the energy needs of a region.
Green Way Apartments is a dream of mine. I’ve struggled to make ends meet for many years. I know from first hand experience the difference a community like this could make.
Each month we worry about how we are going to keep the lights on and put gas in our cars to get to work. We work our butts off everyday but it still isn’t enough.
Traditional utility assistance programs still need someone to foot the bill. Once installation is paid for renewable energy is an excellent way to reduce the living expenses of poor families without burdoning taxpayers. We could even go one step further and provide on site biological water treatment, making the turn off notice a thing of the past.