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Green Means Hope

Posted by Jim Gunshinan on May 08, 2012

I wrote a blog entry a few weeks ago while attending the Energy Out West conference in Boise, Idaho. I wanted to highlight the work of the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE). I had heard a presentation by CCSE’s Jack Clark about the organization’s work in the San Diego area. Jack and his colleagues are bringing together Weatherization Assistance Program workers who were hired with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars—and who are being let go as the money runs out—with for-profit home performance contractors and other contractors. I was inspired by CCSE’s success at bringing what sometimes appear to be opposite ends of the spectrum—government funded low-income weatherization workers on the one end and for-profit home performance business owners on the other—together to accomplish the shared goals of creating successful companies and lots of new jobs in a struggling economy.

I was reminded of the divisions in our society between “right” and “left”, Tea Party and Occupy Movement, and was inspired by what is happening in San Diego and all over the country—partnerships that would seem unusual to most people, impossible to some. I used my brother and I as an example of two very different people and trying to find common ground. I broke a rule—never mention family in your public writing (photos are sometimes okay). My brother didn’t like how he was presented and so I took the post down. But I want the message to stay out here in the blogosphere.

I’ve worked for General Motors, the Catholic Church, a women’s college, a university, a bookstore, and now I edit Home Energy Magazine. I’ve worked for for-profits and non-profits. So far I like my job at Home Energy the best. I like to work in small groups, and Home Energy is a small non-profit. And I like creative collaboration, which I also find in abundance with my colleagues at Home Energy. I was impressed right away by the people of the home performance community—the community that Home Energy serves—who create healthy, affordable, durable, and energy efficient homes. I could not tell you and I still cannot tell you the political affiliations of most of our authors and certainly not our readers. Mostly our readers run small, for-profit home performance companies. Politics is not the focus—creating high quality new homes and doing high quality retrofits is the focus. I was inspired and I am still inspired by this community.

What we need in this country (never start a sentence with “What we need in this country”—rule number 2)—is probably not a new political party, although that might be a good thing, but new partnerships and new conversations; new ways of meeting people up close—not across a political divide, and not because I want to know only those who watch Fox News, or only those who listen to NPR. Those new partnerships and those new conversations are happening in San Diego, and wherever people come together to do something good in new ways—and making some money doing it.

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