We are all facing the threats of climate change. From superstorms like Katrina and Sandy to wildfires across Colorado, we are losing homes, businesses and lives. In the face of these threats, how are communities, particularly frontline communities, innovating, adapting and mitigating the impacts of climate change? We created this scan of community-scale energy projects to document strategies and models that communities are using to fight climate change by reducing our reliance on dirty energy.
Energy Democracy – Community-Led Solutions is a compilation of three case studies highlighting the work of communities of color developing community-scale renewable energy projects to improve their neighborhoods. The case studies identify obstacles that these projects encountered and recommend policies that would help bring all of our communities into the renewable energy economy.
PEOPLE POWERED POLICY: COMMUNITIES OF COLOR LEAD ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND SOLAR ENERGY IN OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
In this case study, we learn about policy strategies that community of color organizations in Oakland have developed to help them tackle climate change while improving their communities. They won accountable planning policy at the city level, developed community-scale solar projects and crafted state policy to support community projects.
From growing fruits and vegetables to eating at a restaurant, the food system impacts all of us. And to ensure that our we have a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system for all it requires that we tackle challenges across the system from production to distribution to consumption. In doing so, we want to ensure that no farmer growing healthy food has to fear losing their land due to drought or debut and that no restaurant worker struggles to put food on the table for their families. Two critical entry points for creating sustainable and equitable solutions is the Farm Bill and the Minimum Wage.
In this case study, we examine the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition (BTCC) Plan to develop vacant land for renewable energy, green jobs, energy efficiency and affordable housing for a multi-racial constituency. Communities are at the frontline of our national challenges, be it jobs, housing or climate change, and often see opportunities to solve multiple challenges holistically, as does the Broadway Triangle Coalition. But while communities of color are generating new ideas and multiple efforts to build a more inclusive and green future we, as a nation, are not yet discussing policies to support these endeavors.
As a country, we long ago decided to feed the hungry, help the homeless, ensure our elderly have heat in winter and make sure every child gets a fair chance, by supporting public schools and programs for disabled and poor children. We have helped millions of children and families, White, Black, Latino, Asian and Native American, over the years through programs that work. We now face a crossroads come January 2013. Will we continue to invest in the education, housing and nutrition of Americans hit hard by the recession or begin to cut vital investments in Americans?
For the past two years, several states have passed some form of legislation requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification in order to register to vote and/or vote. Because of these laws, many senior citizens may face significant obstacles to voting given the barriers to obtain the identification. This is particularly concerning to senior citizens of color who are more likely to lack the documents to get a government-issued ID because of Jim Crow and other historical factors.
Communities of color have long been environmental activists and can be innovators in a new renewable energy economy. CSI’s case study analyzes efforts by community of color groups in Boston, Massachusetts to develop a community-owned energy service cooperative that would weatherize homes, provide jobs and lower emissions.
Leveraging the resilience, innovation, and resourcefulness of Black farmers in the South, the Black Family Land Trust (BFLT) is building a foundation for achieving a sustainable solution that can work for all farmers – the utilization of farmland to create clean, renewable energy while maintaining food production. This can help farmers save their land while fueling the nation’s energy and food demands. In collaboration with the BFLT’s work to organize and support Black farmers in the South, the Center for Social Inclusion introduces: Renewable Energy Opportunities in the Rural South, a resource for the BFLT and its constituents. This packet provides an overview of what renewable energy potential exists in the rural South, summarizes grant opportunities, and identifies technical assistance resources that can help farmers navigate the process and build a strategy towards developing a renewable energy future. The packet also identifies barriers that Black farmers face, particularly in Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, while offering short-term and long-term recommendations for the Black Family Land Trust.
We all want to live in healthy places. That is becoming harder thanks to the combination of dirty, expensive energy and violent weather, droughts, and other problems of global climate change that we helped create. We know that reducing energy consumption and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy are essential steps to healthy and sustainable places to live.