This article was reprinted from the PSARA publication, The Retiree Advocate – October 2018 issue.

 Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom

By Beth Brunton

When talking with family and friends about switching from fossil fuels to clean energy, do you ever struggle to come up with strong, specific examples of possibilities? When canvassing or calling voters who ask for examples of success, do you wonder how you could give a more concise, compelling answer? When you are analyzing your own investments, work or consumption choices, are you curious about whether we could survive and thrive without oil, coal, etc.? Yes, that’s happened to me, as well.

For many of us PSARA members, energy production is not our career or family background. Reading the latest news, magazines and books, we’ve become experts in what we are against; we’re resisting pipelines, refineries, fracking, LNG (Liquid Natural Gas), but we rarely hear stories about the clean energy revolution happening everywhere that could help inspire and inform us, our friends, and neighbors.

Have you heard about the renewable energy boom happening from deep in the heart of Texas, to Rhode Island, Michigan, North Carolina, rural Montana, and urban L.A. California? Me neither. Do you want to find out how laid-off autoworkers are becoming wind turbine techs and laid-off coalminers are becoming roof top solar technicians, transforming their own lives, their local communities and their environments?

The new film, Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom, produced by the Sierra Club, offers a series of short stories featuring new leaders changing their minds and work to renewable energy. On the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, in the shadow of the West’s largest, most polluting coal plant, Kaden Walks Nice is bringing wind turbines to replace the Coalstrip plant. Near Los Angeles, Isaiah Robinson is proud to show his family the electric buses and trucks he builds which provides new jobs and reduces the severe smog pollution hovering over his community. In Texas Danielle Murray works with Austin Energy to provide community solar to low-income and communities of color historically left out of the energy debate.

To find out more amazing stories, go to: sierraclub.org/reinventingpower.  On the website, you can watch the movie trailer, the entire movie, or read and watch several  examples at “Stories in Focus”, or read detailed fact sheets including: “We Can Do This: 100% Renewable is Achievable” and “100% Renewal Makes Economic Sense: Clean Energy creates jobs, spurs growth, and saves money” and find out where to see it.

On November 6, 2018, we Washington voters have the opportunity to contribute to this “Green New Deal” by passing the Clean Energy, Clean Air Initiative, I-1631, and electing representatives who will join our fight.  “We don’t usually have much say in how economic policy is developed” observes Lynn Dodson, secretary-treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council. “This has communities of color, environmental groups, and labor making decisions about the economy of the future. (The Nation, p. 20)

We know the fossil fuel industry will flood all media sources with lies and myths threatening job loss and economic hardship if I-1631 passes. So we must be ready with our own messages, face-to-face, on our phones, on our own social media. The stories from Reinventing Power can help us reinvent our own power. To win not just this next election as well as the next legislative sessions, the next pipelines proposed, etc. we must remember and pass on these stories of brave, imaginative people here and everywhere who are standing up together. According to Mt. Vernon former United Steelworker local leader and blue-green partner, Steve Garey, “This is going to be a classic ‘organized people vs. organized money.’ It’s not just ‘us and them’ anymore-it’s us and us and us and them’ now, and it’s made all the difference in the world.” (The Nation, p. 23)

So, get ready for your next conversations about a just transition to clean energy.

Watch, listen and read real stories of real people who are reinventing power.  Farmers who are surviving by adding wind farms. Proud coal miners who discovered better work, lives and climate by becoming solar technicians. If we vote for it, we will make it happen here.

Beth Brunton is a member of South Seattle Climate Action Network, Earth Care not Warfare, and PSARA.

(The Nation Aug. 13/20, 2018)