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Solar Schools: Don't Just Donate to this Campaign. Join it, too.

Paul Davis

Posted November 12, 2013

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NRDC is in its last two days of a crowdfunding campaign for our Solar Schools Initiative. I hope you will take a moment to check out the campaign here. But I am blogging today to ask you, “Don’t just donate to this campaign. Join it, too.” Here is why:

Early in my career, I worked as a community field organizer for a national political campaign. Everyday, I would arrive at the campaign headquarters in Joplin, Missouri, by 7am and wouldn’t leave until 1am the next morning. The days were long, yet I rarely felt exhausted.

What kept me going was the boundless energy and unique charge of the campaign office. There was something special about watching neighbors of all ages and backgrounds coming together around a shared desire to positively impact their community. I have worked in many mission-driven enterprises since my days as a field organizer, but none of those environments has ever rivaled the enthusiastic buzz of a campaign headquarters.

Since my days as a campaign staffer, technology has transformed community organizing. Online social organizing platforms have made it easier for community activists to connect, and have empowered local volunteers with the tools they need to become effective campaign leaders. These new online platforms have turned kitchen tables into campaign headquarters and my neighbors into regional leaders that run large, vibrant teams of local volunteers.

While I love the energy of political campaigns and marvel at the power of their social organizing platforms, I can’t help but think that both the tools these campaigns have developed and the community energy they harness could be put to better use. Rather than pulling our communities apart along party lines, these tools could be used to bring us together around neighborhood improvement projects we can all agree on.

What if instead of organizing communities around candidates from one party or another, we organized neighborhoods around shared-purpose projects that led to cleaner local air, additional open space, or better water quality? What if we re-purposed these political organizing platforms to help mobilize communities around development of local renewable energy projects, community gardens or rainwater harvesting systems?

NRDC’s new initiative called Solar Schools is attempting to do just that. Our team is currently building a social organizing platform that will provide communities like yours with the technical resources and organizing capacity necessary to push for solar development on your local school.

However, the online organizing tool we are building is just that—a tool. While it can help organize positive community engagement, it cannot create local users. So, ultimately, the success of our Solar Schools platform will depend on students, parents, teachers and citizens like you, who are inspired to help build the sustainable communities they desire. 

If you want to see us bring the Solar Schools platform and positive community organizing to your neighborhood, visit our crowdfunding campaign page at:

support solar schools

But please, don’t just donate to this campaign. Join it, too. 

When you visit our Indiegogo site, give as little as $1 as a vote for our vision, but more importantly, leave us a comment letting us know where you would like to help start a community-led solar development project.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

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