Imagine a new paradigm in how we get (and use) energy, one in which citizens have the loudest voice, one in which renewable sources of energy are prioritized, and one in which local communities reap both social and monetary benefits.
Imagine a banding together of like-minded citizens to demand a cleaner, more sustainable energy system, whether it’s a local community solar “garden,” or peer-to-peer sharing of renewable electricity via blockchain, or a Power Purchase Agreement with an off-site wind or solar farm.
Imagine that it’s not always necessary to break up the monopolies of “Big Energy” that exploit resources and people and planet in search of higher profits in order for us to have access to viable and sustainable alternatives for powering our homes and cars and neighborhoods.
I know, it’s rather challenging to imagine changes like that, considering how entrenched and established the current status quo is, and you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. All around the world, individuals and communities are starting to take a good hard look at their own energy supplies (and their negative externalities), and thankfully, there are also some big hitters in the corporate world helping out, most notably the iconic outdoor brand Patagonia.
Full disclosure: I am a Patagonia fanboy (stan?), and happily purchase clothing and gear from Yvon Chouinard‘s lovechild. The company not only makes bombproof outdoor clothing and workwear and gear (and relentlessly pursues innovation in its materials and technologies), but it also puts its money where its mouth is by sponsoring many environmental and social justice groups, pledging “1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment” (adding up to more than $89 million in both cash and in-kind donations so far).
Another admirable aspect of Patagonia’s environmental bent is its expert use of films for educational and activist purposes, such as lending a hand to protecting America’s public lands, resisting new fossil fuel extraction and distribution networks, supporting a homegrown hemp fiber revival in the US, removing obsolete and unnecessary dams, and countless other issues.
And now Patagonia is helping to document (and enable) a move toward more community-energy systems with its film We the Power.
“Imagine upending the traditional energy system and giving the power of clean electricity production back to your neighbors. We the Power follows friends, families and visionaries as they break down legislative barriers and take power back from big energy companies to put in the hands of locals. The film chronicles local cooperatives from deep in Germany’s Black Forest to the streets of ancient Girona in Spain and the urban rooftops of London, England, as they pave the way for a renewable-energy revolution and build healthier, more financially stable communities.”
Check out the short documentary (~38 minutes) We the Power below: