Happy New Year!

This blog was written by Laura Humphrey, former Energy Policy Associate at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. What are our motivations, year after year, to do what we do? The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy family reflects and looks forward to a clean energy future in 2019.

Guest Blog | January 1, 2019 | Climate Change, Energy Justice, Energy Policy

While everyone is celebrating the holidays and the year comes to a close, we often, briefly, find ourselves reflecting on the year that has passed, as well as, looking forward to the future. Personally, I find myself asking questions such as: What are my goals next year? Am I on the right track? Did I contribute something significant to my family, friends, and community? What are the things that bring myself and others joy? And how can I do more of those this upcoming year?

The Humphrey Crew

This past week I had an important moment with my seven year old son, Samuel. He said, “you know mom, sometimes I think some of the scariest animals are people. We break down and destroy a lot of stuff. Did you know the polar bears might not survive?” I realized he learned something new at school, and I had the opportunity to give him some perspective. He obviously had been mulling the problem over for quite some time because he added, “you know, I like polar bears, but all the other animals will be in trouble that live in Antarctica, too.”

Wow, he gets it! I told him that people do use and abuse a lot of things, but there are a lot of people who care very deeply and make great effort to make a change. Then I had the opportunity to tell him about my work at SACE, teach him a new word, “charismatic megafauna,” and why they are often what people talk about in relationship to a bigger problem. That conversation with my son led me to reflect, recharge, and find great resolve in my work here at SACE.

Just a couple months ago, I attended my first work retreat with the SACE team. Since we all are working towards a clean energy future from different areas across the Southeast, it was the first time many of us had the opportunity to meet face-to-face. What I learned is we all have similar motivations: to ensure those clean, safe, and healthy communities today for our loved ones, and for every generation tomorrow brings. So today I wanted to share some of the reasons that our staff does the work that they do.

Not everyone’s voice is heard, or allowed to be heard, especially given the influence of big power companies. Our work aims to change that – to transform today’s inequities into a future that benefits everyone, including protecting our natural environment, no matter how hard the fight we face. —Sara Barczak

Maggie Shober & Family

I was recently reminded why I do this work. While discussing the havoc Hurricane Florence was wrecking on the Carolina coast, my 3-year-old quietly whispered to himself “I’m sorry beaches.” It broke my heart. I do this work so that innocent lives, those who contribute little or nothing to our great environmental challenges, will be able to live with clean air and water, and hopefully the opportunity to visit some of our natural wonders. Like the Carolina beaches. —Maggie Shober

The Vaden Boys

My young kids already have so much more exposure to and understanding of energy and environmental issues than I had as a child. They witness our efforts and hear our concerns, at home, at school, on the radio, and even in discussions among their peers. By promoting policy solutions, providing checks and balances on huge utility decisions that affect everyone, and creating opportunities to spread dialogue among audiences from a variety of walks of life, we’re playing an important role in continuing to raise awareness around critical issues. This expanded awareness is what will set my kids’ generation up for success. I’m so proud to play a part in that.–Amy Vaden

Allie Brown on epic off-grid adventures

I was first inspired to do this work because of my love of nature, but stuck around because of the impact these issues have on people, and the understanding that the most vulnerable populations are the most impacted if we do nothing. It’s extremely inspiring to be a part of a movement where we’ve been able to prove that regardless of how much big money flows in from the fossil fuel industry into fighting our work, people power can still prevail.  –Allie Brown

Bryan Jacob & Family

Climate change is one of the most significant threats to our lives and livelihoods. Clean energy is one of the most economically and environmentally advantageous solutions. Working for SACE gives me an opportunity to promote fair and equitable access to clean energy resources across the Southeast. – Bryan Jacob

Alissa Schafer’s Beach Baby

Above everything else, I’ve always done this work because I want to do my part to make this world a better place. Having brought a child into this [sometimes scary] world, I feel an even more urgent sense of responsibility. I can’t imagine coming to the end of my life and not being able to tell my daughter that I didn’t fight like hell for her, and everyone else’s loved ones. – Alissa Schafer

Kelsey Grentzer & her dad sailing off the coast of Florida

Growing up on the coast of Florida and with a sailor for a father, I spent countless weekends of my childhood on the water, and this really gave me a deep appreciation for our oceans and for our natural world in general. I was awestruck the first time I snorkeled on a coral reef, and saddened when I began to see that same reef disappearing years later as a result of human actions. It’s a beautiful world we live in, and I’ve always wanted to use my skills to help protect it and ensure it remains that way for future generations. – Kelsey Grentzer

I like the ethic of leaving a place better than you find it. I hope my work advocating for clean energy and climate action helps leave the world a better place for others. – Chris Carnevale

Solving the climate crisis – one of the most important goals we can strive for on behalf of our children, our society, and our environment – requires passionate, committed people willing to work hard for clean energy and technology-based solutions. I am proud to work alongside my colleagues here at SACE as we are all professionally and personally committed to our mission of changing the way we produce and consume energy. – Jennifer Rennicks

I do this work because my family is negatively impacted by the decisions utilities make. We have lived in the dark due to the energy burden in West Tennessee and are currently still at risk. I do this work because my loved ones deserve heat, light, and hot water just like everyone else. I will continue to chip away at this problem until we all have our basic needs met – Michael MacMiller

As an industrial chemist, I started my journey in fighting for environmental justice in the Memphis community over thirty years ago.  Then as a science teacher, I worked hard to make predominantly African American schools green by educating our children about pollution in their community, protecting the environment, saving energy, and receiving state and national certifications. After my retirement from teaching, Dr. Robert D. Bullard, widely known as the Father of Environmental Justice, tasked me to fight for our universal right for energy, saving our people from severe energy burden, while Jacqueline Patterson, Environmental Climate Justice Director for the NAACP, challenged me to fight for utility reform.  SACE has given me a larger platform to expand my outreach and the training to become an advocate for energy justice. My New Year’s Resolution is to keep on fighting for energy justice for my people and to keep on hunting the energy elephant, aka, TVA! —Saidi Ajanaku,  Elephant Hunter

As you can see, we are not only motivated by what is happening on a global scale, but what is happening in our own homes and close to our hearts. As the past year comes to a close, a New Year’s Resolution is often the top of people’s list to start the year. I hope you will consider joining us in promoting responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast this year knowing you will make a change today, for the coming year, and for the future generations to come.

Happy 2019 from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Family!


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