Help a youth-led community energy solutions business grow

Seven years ago, I had a big question: “How do we help people understand that climate and clean energy solutions won’t hurt their lifestyles, jobs, and the economy, they will transform and revitalize them while responding to the greatest threats we face?”

The pursuit of the answer that question has helped birth a national network of youth leaders working locally across the country to create community-based climate and energy solutions, many of whom are working to create community-driven enterprise to address joblessness and build wealth in marginalized communities. It also helped birth a community energy cooperative here in the Minneapolis that’s been working out the hard process of growing green jobs from the grassroots.

Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF) is a cooperative that has co-developed with the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program over the last five years. Developing the legal structure and community organizing for CEF was one of the three projects that participants in the first Summer of Solutions collaborated on. The cooperative is currently in the running as one of the finalists for Green America’s People and the Planet Award with a $5000 prize. Read about the project  and then vote for CEF once during the month of November! The top three vote-getters win.

If this is the first time you’re hearing about CEF, it’s an energy efficiency cooperative helping Minneapolis neighbors work together to make energy efficiency and clean energy accessible, easy, social, and fun. CEF helps communities make the biggest positive environmental impact possible by working together to lower energy bills, generate energy revenue, improve home comfort, create a healthier community and drive climate and energy solutions.

CEF’s primary services are bulk buying programs for solar and insulation, home energy workshops, and community owned renewables. If you are interested in learning more, please check out the links to the relevant pages.

If CEF wins this award, they will combine this funding with the revenue from the bulk buying projects and neighborhood workshops to create a green job, employing a community member from South Minneapolis to organize more local energy projects in the community. This would be a huge step in expanding capacity and getting CEF’s programs to scale on a consistent basis.

Don’t forget to check out their pagevote for them, and then please tell a friend!

Since you get three votes in the competition, please also consider voting for Solar Mosaic, a business co-founded by Billy Parish – who helped start the Energy Action Coalition.  Like Cooperative Energy Futures, Solar Mosaic is doing great things to advance community participation in the clean energy economy. For your third vote, check out the other great Green America finalists, which are all sustainable small businesses focused with a focus on clean energy.

Then please share your own stories of how we help people see and feel that climate and energy solutions are the way we revitalize our struggling economy, fight monsters like Hurricane Sandy, the epic drought, and all those other products of puffing carbon, and create stronger communities equipped for whatever the future will hold.

About Timothy

Timothy is a youth climate leader based in St. Paul. He's all about people power, and being the changes we actually want to see. I've been heavily involved in community development and using climate solutions as incredible opportunities for local economic activity, collective empowerment, and self-determination. Timothy is a recent graduate of Macalester College, where he did exciting work on revolving funds, carbon neutrality, and cross-campus sustainability leadership development. He now helps run a community energy efficiency and community-based energy cooperative and is core driver of Grand Aspirations and the Summer of Solutions. He does lots of network building with buddies in the youth movement as well as labor, faith, agricultural, small business, and neighborhood groups.

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