Being local in a time of madness: Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Last night (aka ‘Fat Tuesday’) I said a few words at Mountain Mardi Gras, a “friend raising” event AIRE co-organized with the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country. From all accounts, the evening was as near-perfect as it possibly could have been. Our proclamation tagline was “Come hell or high water, there’ll be Mardi Gras in the holler.” Thankfully we didn’t have either of those calamities but we did have temperatures sagging near single digits. Todd Wright’s Jazz Quartet was on fire though and the mood was warm. The Mardi Gras cuisine for all 160 of our “Mystic Krewe of Lagniappe In The High Country” was prepared onsite by two authentic bayou-to-holler chefs, one of whom is AIRE’s Bucky Black, who can stir up ideas just like he can a pot of crawfish. All fantastic!

One thing I wish I’d said that just blanked in my mind at that very moment I had the floor–
we want to do more work HERE in our community, in Boone and the High Country.

One of the guiding questions in AIRE’s genesis was “why is there so little renewable energy in a place like this?” This seemed like an exceptional case with so much talk about renewables and App State’s well-known sustainable development and appropriate technology programs, yet virtually no renewables. So, we developed an experimental community-owned solar project at The GreenHouse on South Depot Street. Since then, we’ve accumulated a deep and critical understanding of the complexities that answer the question based on our accumulated learnings here and elsewhere. The fact remains more than a decade after we posed that question, we still don’t have a lot of renewable energy here. Greenwash and empty words, yes. But invoking one of my recent favorites attributed to St. Francis of Assisi ‘preach always, sometimes use words.’ Lets build renewable energy here. Preach, man!

The Appalachian Theatre is an inspiring work of mainstreet historic preservation that will pay cultural and economic dividends for the community at-large for years to come. And so it could be with renewable energy. With a collaborative, ‘friend-raising’ spirit like the one that made Mountain Mardi Gras a success, imagine what we could do to put renewables in a place like this. If we can have Mardi Gras in the mountains on a night when it’s 10 degrees outside, we can revolutionize our ‘last century’ electricity habit here too. Channeling Wendell Berry, in community we have each other, therefore we have everything. So we need our Mystic Krewe here to spread the word, share ideas, dialogue with us, and Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

Look for upcoming posts on local work and visions.

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