Meet Evelyn Wright. She is an economist, energy analyst, meeting facilitator, and longtime cooperative enthusiast. At her company, Sustainable Energy Economics, she consults on energy policy for local, state, and national governments as well as environmental organizations.
Evelyn is also the founder of a project here in the Hudson Valley called Commonwealth Hudson Valley. It’s a web publication promoting a more just, democratic, and sustainable economy in the Hudson Valley and beyond. She also serves on the board of the start-up Kingston Food Coop. She is the co-author of Cool Tools for Hot Topics, a resource guide for leading group processes. If that wasn’t enough cred, she has a PhD in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer.
Evelyn has a wealth of information when it comes to climate change and creating a sustainable economy, which are just two of the many reasons I invited her to join me in le salon. I learned a ton during our conversation and hope you do, too.
We dig into climate change and energy policy work, specifically what it is and why it’s so very important to our world today (and for our future). Evelyn walks us through her work where she focuses on some of the what-ifs around carbon emissions. For example, what if we change future natural gas prices, future electric vehicle costs, and future solar costs at the same time? How do different combinations of those affect our energy system differently? Yes, she is asking the BIG questions...and answering them.
We also dive into another one of her passions, cooperative business models, and her desire to be part of solutions that affect (and hopefully boost) community. Of course, we tackle topics related to walking the line between burnout and growth, like cognitive differences, protecting yourself from the depression and grief about our world, and expanding your growing edges.
There is so much that we cover in this episode. Evelyn really brings it. It's smart, informative, and always thought provoking. I hope you come away from our conversation thinking that as well.
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All of this is from Evelyn (with some minor edits for readability).
[00:12:22] I was attracted to climate change as a dissertation topic and then a life's work because of the way it brings all of the challenges related to having a more sustainable economy together. It's about our technology, but it's also about rich and poor and how countries, societies, and the parts of cultures that are rich got to be that way, which is by burning fossil fuels.
[00:14:32] We've seen inequality just soar here.
[00:20:00] I think we really fundamentally process information differently. There's just too much information coming at us from a sensory perspective for us to use all of it at any one time.
[00:37:15] This is a strategy to build something from the ground up - person by person, business by business - that can totally change the way we think about providing for our needs and creating work at the same time as creating the things that we need.
[00:41:01] Radical implementation of change is actually a fantasy.
[00:42:31] The core thing that I'm trying to do is just expand people's imagination and [encourage them] to start asking or just start thinking about really how odd [the way we have things set up now] is.
[00:42:40] We vote everywhere. We have classroom elections starting in elementary school or when we're gonna choose a date for the company picnic. We vote on it them. All these kinds of things. But then when we go to work, we hand it all over. We just say, ‘I'm going to let this person, these people above me, this structure up above me, be in charge of what I do all day long and have all the important parameters of my life.’
[00:47:01] The fantastic thing about these strategies is that they are so bottom-up, they are driven by people who want to learn, want to grow, and want to make good things happen in their lives.
[00:54:10] It's something that we're going to make, project by project and community by community, out of the pieces that we find ourselves ready to start assembling.
[00:57:12] I will race anyone to the big picture from any starting point at any time. It's just the way I think. It's just in my nature to be interested in big, fundamental problems.
[1:08:30] [On community response] There's a real kind of push-pull between the frustration with the gridlock that we've been seeing at the national-level, the intense ugliness of that and the determination to do it ourselves at the community-level. I have just seen so much welling up in the past two years in response to that. The accumulation of capacity-building that really we've had all kinds of movements [emerge] for social healing, personal empowerment, and skill growth.
[1:10:00] Look for those opportunities, which are both opportunities to share your skills, but also be on a growing edge in terms of who you're collaborating with.
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