Wherever your place and community may be, you need a guiding question. DO YOU HAVE A VILLAGE WIRING VISION? Whether you’re a faith community, university, city, rural community, or other community of interest, this ought to be a central organizing question. Of course AIRE’s specific focus is community-owned renewable energy, but Sister Mary Baird gives us a glimpse into a broader, working, ever-evolving systems way of designing sustainable places and ways of seeing. With community energy, we’re after much more than energy. We’re after energy in a context that takes care of people and places, in part by asking what can we do here and how much is enough, and of course, that encompasses a lot of things. Sister Mary’s diagram is hand drawn, which is in itself a piece of art. It conveys humanness, patience, fallibility, urgency, heart, head and hope, with the latter backed by intent not idleness. She uses language in a beautiful and powerful way. Because this image represents something big, relational, and connected, one has to stand in front of the drawing for some time before it begins to sink in. To suffice for now, here are some of the highlights, each deserving of elaboration in future posts:
* Renewable energy, energy conservation and resource management are everywhere in the sketch.
* Develop non-dual attitude (yes, we’ve got to move beyond “economy vs environment” and other dualisms)
* Create beauty (responding to challenging times requires it)
* Build up the people
* Some fundamental qualities of a living world’s form
* Ethical moral rectifiers (in key places to guide the vision and keep the community on track)
* Think! Preserve democracy, debate with logic (civic discourse is vital)
More to come. This piece just needs to be shared. Students at App State recently asked in wonderment, “this place exists?!!” Well yes, but it’s a work in progress. They are starved to see working, emerging models, that are bold, significant and real; not white papers and theory with some greenwashing mixed in. They see Sister Mary’s community making theory practice but not primarily.
Sister Mary and her community take the idea of integral ecology, as articulated in the climate encyclical, seriously and act accordingly. We respect their belief that actions speak louder than words or, as I’ve said in several other places that they “preach always, sometimes use words.” (quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)
We’ve posted much on the solar projects we’ve been involved with at the center. There’s no better evidence of their commitment, in terms of renewable energy, than their actual solar developments. Begin here and also see “tags” below. I would also point folks interested in cooperative aspects of this and integral ecology to ENERGY, COOPERATION, AND POSSIBILITIES: NATHAN SCHNEIDER’S TAKE ON THE POPE’S CLIMATE ENCYCLICAL.