My colleagues and fellow owners Deirdre, Rob, Siobhan and I just returned from a conference in Boston called Local Sustainable Economies. It was a national gathering, hosted by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, of people and organizations working to localize economic activity and encourage the long haul shift from the extractive economy of the present to a generative economy of the future.
SunPower’s final blog post about its collaboration with SMC is focused on our commercial and affordable housing solar projects.
That’s it for this series, just in time for Earth Day 2017, which comes just in time for the planet. In “How The Active Many Can Overcome the Ruthless Few,” Bill McKibben says “We’ll either save or doom the planet during the Trump administration.” Today scientists will march on the National Mall. A week later, on Trump’s 100th day, there will be another major Climate Change march in Washington. Scientists are angry. People are angry. McKibben says, “Trump has pissed people off, and pissed-off people don’t ask for small and easy progress. They demand the shifts that reality requires.”
Now is the time. As the SunPower series demonstrates, we can effectively do what we have been unable to do in the past. The shift to renewables is underway, un-stoppable and irreversible, but time is the big variable. How fast, how soon, how much?
Link to the SunPower blog post here. Onward.
For the Earth Day campaign mentioned in the last post, SunPower created two videos and three blog posts. This link will take you to their second video and second blog post. Please take the journey to explore the SunPower/South Mountain relationship further. This one is about the connection between our devotion to craft and our passion for solar. The two go hand in hand.
We’ll send out another reminder when the 3rd SunPower blog post is up. Thanks for listening!
To honor Earth day this year, SunPower, the manufacturer of the solar panels we install, decided to do a campaign about South Mountain here on the Vineyard. They put a ton of effort into this. They spent time here with us last Fall, did several videos and photo shoots, and wrote extensively about our company and our work. We’re honored by their decision to feature us, and we appreciate their beautiful work. We also appreciate our relationship with SunPower, an American company that makes the best solar panels in the world. If you’d like to see what they’re up to with this, click here.
In 1980 a woman named Madeline Blakeley asked me to look at a piece of land with her. She was a librarian in her early sixties whose husband had recently died. They had no children and had always lived in rented apartments. Her dream was to own a piece of property.
She had $7,000 in cash. A realtor showed her a lot priced at exactly that, but her friends advised her against buying it. The lot fell steeply south to a sweet little valley, a perfectly matched solar exposure and view, but it was right beside the main road from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown, which was very loud. Except for that proximity and the fact that the whole lot was a hillside, it was lovely. There was nothing else on Martha’s Vineyard even close to her price range.
I suggested that we could cut and fill and build an earth-bermed, partially underground house. “The southern orientation aims away from the road just enough, and the berming would dull the noise as long as the house doesn’t open to that side. We can design the traffic right out of this scene!” She was excited. Even though she didn’t imagine she could afford to build anything at all, the idea that the land could eventually be sensibly used was appealing. I didn’t tell her that we didn’t – at the time – actually know how to properly build an earth-integrated house.
She bought the property.
We began our recent year-end company meeting by reviewing finances, work completed, work ahead, affordable housing projects in the pipeline, solar sales and installations, and a variety of compelling and not-so-compelling metrics and indicators.
It has been a very good year, as were the two that came before. A robust trifecta. One of our younger employees, Ian Gumpel, asked why we’re doing so well. Great question. I mumbled a few dis-jointed explanations that didn’t quite add up. Later I thought more and the next day I wrote a brief addendum to everyone that said in part, about Ian’s question, “As a friend of ours, Devon Hartman, once said, ‘The key to making a company work is getting all the wood behind one arrow.’ We are making great strides toward doing just that. Sometimes it doesn’t seem so; the alignment can be obscured by the drama and upheaval of constant change. But it becomes clear through the lens of our triple bottom line performance.”