Recently the New York Times published a great article about an effort by my friend and colleague Nancy Jackson and the Climate and Energy Project to inspire clean energy reform in Kansas. In more conservative parts of the U.S., climate change doesn’t rank high on the list of local concerns. If anything, climate skepticism is becoming a form of political identity. At the same time, many people deeply concerned about lack of progress on climate are asking “What can I do?”
The truth is that there’s a lot everyone can do and it’s time we get to the work at hand. This is the subject of Plains Justice’s new clean energy video blog series. Many of our subjects are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, but concern about climate isn’t the only reason people invest in clean energy technology or reduce energy consumption. Many climate skeptics care about thrift, stewardship of natural resources, and leaving the planet better than they found it. So I’ve begun working on a project to record the stories of people in politically conservative places who are building clean energy elements into construction or renovation projects, reducing their energy consumption, and otherwise reducing their carbon footprint in significant ways, whether they choose to call it that or not.
Every project is different, just like every person is different. This series looks around (up the quiet local street, down country roads) to see what the next step forward looks like, and the next, and the next. Attitudes are changing in the least likely of places, so we’re off to meet people where they are and figure out how to get where we all need to go.
With that goal in mind, take a look at the first residential green roof in Billings, Montana, circa 2010. Billings is Montana’s largest city, an old railroad town on the state’s eastern plains, more politically and socially conservative than its western ski town neighbors, but also home to more LEED Platinum buildings than many cities twice its size.
I’m still learning how to use the technology and produce something watchable and useful, so you may see some future drafts of this clip, as well as updates on the story. Let me know what you think!