Going Green Works Better in Teams - Michigan Interfaith Power & Light

Going Green Works Better in Teams

South Side Community Coalition in Lansing celebrates switching to 100% solar energy at their "Green Energy Switch-On" event on Saturday, April 23. The solar installation was made possible through fundraising by Michigan IPL's Capital Area Chapter.

By working together, we accomplished something that benefits both our community and the earth—something we couldn’t have done as individuals or single congregations.

These days we all try to do our part to help preserve and restore our environment. We recycle paper, plastics, and cans. We put up bird houses and plant native species in our yards. But there are limits to what we can do as individuals. Sometimes it takes a team. And a dream.

April 23rd’s “Green Energy Switch-On” celebration, where we switched our energy use to 100% solar energy at the South Side Community Coalition’s community center in Lansing, is a perfect example of how teamwork can accomplish environmental and social justice goals that are otherwise beyond our reach. 

The group ceremonially flipped the switch from dirty, fossil fuel-based energy to clean renewable energy. 

For two decades, the South Side Community Coalition (SSCC) has provided important services for young people, seniors, and families, including recreational, educational, and nutritional programs. Last year they served about 225 low-income families and individuals in this part of Lansing. Part of their mission is connecting families with a healthy environment, and the board realized that moving to renewable energy by producing their own solar power would help the planet and save thousands of dollars a year in utility costs, freeing up more money for their programs. But the $35,000 project cost seemed beyond the center’s budget. 

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor also joined the celebration.

Last summer, 10 houses of worship in the Lansing area joined together to form the Capital Area Chapter of Michigan Interfaith Power & Light. Our member congregations represent diverse faith traditions, and include Christian, Jewish, Unitarian, and Islamic houses of worship. A common thread in our religious experiences is the concern for Creation, including the natural world and humankind. As shown by last summer’s catastrophic floods, we know that climate change is already impacting people, especially communities of color. 

Several of us had recent experience with rooftop solar. We decided that we would work together with SSCC to help them realize their dream to promote clean energy and climate equity. With financial support from the entire group, including congregational and individual contributions, our funding goal was achieved in a few months. The local firm Absolute Solar installed the 13 kilowatt system, and the South Side Community Center is now running on 100% solar energy. This is good for the planet, and shows that all communities can benefit from our transition to a renewable future.

By working together, we accomplished something that benefits both our community and the earth—something we couldn’t have done as individuals or single congregations. We’ve also had a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other and find out what our congregations share in common. We’ve completed our first project, and we’ve become a team. We are working to help form new congregational Green Teams throughout the Lansing area to increase our impact.

If you’d like to get involved in the Capital Area Chapter, contact David at [email protected] and visit the Capital Area Chapter page on our website to learn more.

Check out the event coverage by Channel 10 News: https://www.wilx.com/video/2022/04/24/green-energy-switch/