This will generate Open Graph meta tags for t

Do We Have the Energy Needed to Propel Us Forward?

I wish we had solar panels. Doesn't everyone wish they were making their own free energy to run their household? It seems like such a natural solution, a good idea whose time has come, a real duh-of-course-we-should-do-that.

We just spent a week in DC in August. Nobody really chooses to go to the nation's concrete sauna during the muggiest time of year, but we did. We stayed at a friend's house because they were out of town, like most folks with good sense who live in the city. The welcome note invited us to use the A/C as much as we wanted because they don't pay for electricity. They put solar panels on their roof a year ago and already are making so much energy, they are banking money. 

While I was cranking up the A/C, the headline of a Citizen Dave blog post in The Isthmus, read "Solar energy will end utilities if they don't think differently." 

The blog post struck a chord for me on a couple levels. Dave compares the utility industry to Kodak, a business that missed the mark by presuming they were a company that sold film, instead of a company that sold the ability to capture images and make memories.  He writes "There's a similar lesson in this for a lot of industries, nonprofits and governments today."

Coming back to my own capital city, I notice there are some things the two cities share. Like in Madison, friends who work for non-profits in DC sound exhausted and confused. The reality is we are living in a capitalist country where government has a cash-flow problem. Sentiment has turned against public works and social services. The non-profit sector is meant to pick up the slack but generally lacks reasonable strategies or skills to do so. 

I hear smart people in both capitals wondering why non-profits have been so slow to respond and keep up. A TED talk by Dan Pallotta, who started AIDS ride and wrote "Charity Case: How the non-profit community can stand up for itself and really change the world" offers some answers. But can we, in Madison, keep up or lead the way?

Two things seem distinctly different here from DC:

-Pace. In the city, we were always walking too slowly. The sidewalks are crowded and my little family was like a slow-moving barge the busy urbanites had to navigate around. I used to live in DC and I remember, I was a very fast walker back then. I have slowed to what I think is a more reasonable pace. I appreciate the leisure I have in my life now, and I value it. But I wonder if I have lost the energy to speed toward new ideas, take risks, be bold. Taking a stroll is pleasant, but are current challenges demanding more of a trot?

-Balance. The friends and family I have in DC live there because the jobs are there. They change jobs frequently and squeeze life in between. Generally speaking, in Madison we seem to choose the place and hope we find a job. That means that people have been at their job for a long time (myself included), which equates to a group of folks who tend to be more risk-averse, less driven, and perhaps less inclined to push boundaries. There are simply fewer jobs, and fewer options, so we cultivate a contentedness that may be counter to innovation or bold changes in direction.

As I've been noticing and writing about, there is some energy and excitement right now that I hope counters a low-grade depression many of us have been living with. I want to ride the wave and am interested in what sort of splash it will make.

So I am now on the wait list to get a free estimate from the local Sierra Club to find out if we can afford to install solar panels on our roof. But I know we can't. Because if we could, our friends and our neighbors would all have them. I suspect Wisconsin just doesn't have the incentives in line yet to make it doable. And the incentives in place are in jeopardy

Or maybe it's just not hot enough here? 

No comments:

Post a Comment