My dear friends and fellow climate change warriors,

I have a dream! I have a dream that our electric companies are proclaimed heroes, for delaying short-term corporate profits in the whole-scale push to 100% RE. I have a dream that our state LEADS the way to a sustainable future, by embracing energy efficiency in all its facets:  zero emission transportation, buildings, and communities built and retrofitted with the future in mind, local food and wise water use, recycling, and of course, renewable energy. I have a dream, and in that dream, you and I walk outside on a cloudless day and instead of a brown haze covering the land, together, we see blue sky as far as the eye can see.  

Which, by the way, is 86.23 miles from my house: (for distance (miles) is 1.22 multiplied by the square root of the height (feet) of your vertical position. Thank you Wikipedia).

I have a dream that can only come true, if we are inspired and inspire others. Inspire others to transform the way they live, think and act. Right now we are at a crossroads. We can either hide behind our work and life’s distractions,  and ignore the unbelief of the ignorant, or stand up and speak out for the future. Our future and humanity’s future.

But it’s going to take the combined efforts of everyone which will only happen with good leadership.

Are you aware that our national organization, the American Solar Energy Association, has adopted a new mission and vision? It can only happen with the power of community.

We are to LEAD the transformation…  The transformation to 100% renewable energy and sustainable living for all life on earth.

NMSEA has the knowledge. We have people with experience and the right frame of mind. We have a history of turning ideas into actions into physical results. Whether you consider the sun dwellings back in the 70’s.. or that several of our board members were first to put up PV, first to have an electric vehicle, and first to lead the charge.

I remember in the fall of 2016 when I received the email stating that our president and editor were stepping down and leaving the organization to flounder. I thought, “We are needed more than ever. Who will teach and model the solution?” The work has only now just begun to move solar electric from niche to normal. We need to expand the conversation beyond photovoltaics to include passive and active thermal solar, energy efficiency, and zero emission transportation.

Thank goodness for Tom, David, Elena, Rolf, Wendy and most importantly, Julie and Janet. They picked up the ball, held 2017 board elections, continued the administrative functions and secured a grant for us to carry on.

At the 2016 annual meeting in February 2017, Lois enthusiastically joined our organization and board. We hashed out a few to-dos and off we went.  First up: RE day and the legislative session. Those sessions were exciting, and I felt honored to work with other like-minded organizations, such as 350.org (Thank you Tom)  to promote solar! He and others, including NMSEA, made sure SB312 was heard and understood. Amazingly it made it through one committee, only to be held back in the second. For more, visit 350newmexico.org.

It was a crazy first few months around the state with marches and rallies for Women, Real Science, and Climate Mobilization. I heard from several chapters in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Silver City. We had to redo our entire website (nmsolar.org) with short notice before it disappeared from public sight. We had some amazing help and continue to improve.

But it wasn’t easy. We had no paid staff and little money for the nuts and bolts of running a statewide organization. An organization with so many cloud connections it made one’s head spin.

So we pulled in our advisory board. I wanted to hear their suggestions and gain their support. Wow! We came out with another board member, Paul, who spearheaded this year’s successful Solar Fiesta. And crucial help from the likes of Greg, Michael, Ivory, Jim, and Mark to name a few. We even managed to judge and award prizes at central regional and state science fairs.

In the meantime, Julie worked with Karlis, Larry, and Scott in Taos for the transportation and refurbishment of a SunChaser2 trailer at ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Leadership High School in Albuquerque. She tirelessly continued to provide necessary equipment and instruction via a cadre of NMSEA members like Marlene, Paul, and Mark. Her efforts renewed connections with Janet at CNM and gave the students a place to practice their new skills. As a result, we had the trailer available for our Solar Fiesta.

Speaking of the Solar Fiesta. It happened! Despite a late start and minimal NMSEA involvement, Paul and his committee of Denise, Misty, Jim, Shihlin, Sara and I, pulled it off at the Sawmill Community Land Trust Park. Highlights included major sponsorship by Sol Luna Solar and Affordable Solar, both radio and TV promotions, free Tesla car rides, wonderful music, and some outstanding conversation with PNM and others which precipitated a further meeting on community solar. I’m so proud that we powered one of the food trucks with the sun (thank you Odes and Luz Energy Corp), recycled onsite (KnoWaste), and offered free valet bike parking this year.

It’s one thing to model the success on a computer, or talk about it to legislators, or even carry signs proclaiming the solution.  It’s another to do it and teach others. To lead by example. By the end of 2017, I had pledged to Fossil Fuel Free by 2023.

There is a saying,  “Those who can’t, teach”….but I say, “If you’re doing it, please teach!” If you have information that will help others understand the enormity of the situation, please speak up. If you see situations meant to distract us from our main focus, point us back in the right direction. But most importantly, if you see others doing it right, applaud them, thank them for their service, and encourage them along the way to a sustainable life for all, on this planet, our home.

It’s going to take the combined efforts of all of us, As Amory Lovins and Tom Friedman of Rocky Mountain Institute put it….

“Will the energy transformation be determined by the inertia of incumbents? Or, will it be determined by the speed of innovators?” The answer: “It’s our choice!”

I have a dream. Will you join me in making this dream come true?

Warmly,

Athena Christodoulou