After 25 years as a customer service and financial-operations executive with several large banks, Tom Flint decided he wanted his own business in renewable energy. While developing his new business, he volunteers as a docent on the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Tour in Illinois, and he helped to raise money to build a science wing with a solar array at his daughters’ school.
When he read about then-ASES Board Chair Jeff Lyng’s Bring-in-Three campaign in the January/February 2011 issue of SOLAR TODAY, Flint was moved to take on the challenge. He quickly recruited eight new ASES members. The letter he sent to his friends and colleagues is reprinted below.
SOLAR TODAY: Why did you become an ASES member?
Tom Flint: I joined ASES because I realized, “Wow, there are other people who are like-minded in advancing the cause of renewable energy.” I love to enhance my technical knowledge and hear about what they’ve done. I retired from the regular rat race in 2005 and have been getting more involved in the renewable energy field, not because I needed a job, but because I am passionate about it. I spent a lot of my energy getting familiar with the solar industry and attending a Solar Energy International PV101 workshop in Tucson. It was very hands-on — we went up on a roof and installed a system. From that, I fell in love with it.
ST: What inspired you to participate in Jeff’s Bring-in-Three campaign?
TF: Channeling your passion is difficult. You want to get involved, but how do you do it? [When I read Jeff’s editorial] I thought, “Why not make an impact in this way?” I sent it to family and friends; whoever I thought might be energized by it. This included an environmental science teacher at my daughter’s school. Our teachers have a tremendous influence over the direction our children take. I’m proud to say my daughter started college to become an environmental engineer. The primary reason is the fantastic physics teacher she had as a freshman in high school. This teacher’s influence was so powerful, over 10 percent of her all-girls graduating class has gone on to study engineering in college. The high school classroom is clearly another avenue for us to make an impact.
ST: Where would you like to see our organization headed in the next five years?
TF: It would be great if we could get to a point where you hear politicians talking about ASES as an influence on their thinking. In the end, if you look at the countries in the world that are leaders in renewable energy, the public sector has been crucial to its success. We wouldn’t have sold autos if the government hadn’t made roads, and we wouldn’t have drilled for oil if the government hadn’t created tax laws to encourage it. — ALEX ABDALLAH
One Way to “Bring in Three”
As many of you know, I’ve been an advocate for more thoughtful stewardship of our planet for some time. In the past year, my concern for our planet and the consequences of increasing climate change has grown dramatically. I’ve been thinking of additional steps I can take to influence the public dialogue on the subject and make a small but meaningful difference.
An article I read in the magazine of the American Solar Energy Society gave me a good idea. It suggested you can make a difference by reaching out to those you know who might be receptive to listening; to give them a perspective from someone they know and trust. To that end, I’m doing two things:
1. On spring break, I read the non-fiction book Hot, Flat and Crowded by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman. The book was recommended by a close friend, Jim Pierobon. The author most clearly lays out the situation we are in, the consequences of inaction and the opportunities we have to make a real change. I’m sending each of you a copy of the book. hope you will read it.
2. I’m also signing you up for the magazine from the American Solar Energy Society, of which I’m a member. ASES has been around more than 50 years, advocating the increased use of renewable and most specifically solar energy. I firmly believe that more aggressive investment in this area is crucial to our future. In our mass media, we seldom get an opportunity to hear the whole story.
The sound bites we get are frequently misleading. A structural change can be made. The fact is Germany now gets 17 percent of their energy from renewable sources and has a goal for more than 30 percent, even though they get far less sun than the United States. And the price is dropping dramatically.
I hope you enjoy both the book and the magazine. And if you are so inclined, please pass them along.
Warmest Regards and Happy Earth Week,