A Different Drummer

I have a small patch of parchment on the wall of my office. Had it for a long time. It raises a standard I've honored to a modest extent so far.

"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured, or far away."

Most will recognize the author as Henry David Thoreau. I find the quote particularly poignant as I embark on The IRES Network adventure. For many reasons, including the brilliant work of my companions, I am no longer keeping pace with them in renewable energy. For nearly forty years we've marched to a unifying beat. It is now loud and clear. The work of pursuing a vision is done. The work of fully realizing the vision is well underway.

The outcome will be determined in the venues of the industrial revolution, i.e. on the manufacturing shop floor, in supply and distribution chains, in construction, and in board rooms and legislatures. Wearying and endless jockeying for advantage in financial markets and regulatory proceedings will be the price of an industry's continued success. Thankfully, it is affordable for strong, high growth industries.

Success in the fields of renewable energy will certainly continue. The process of assimilating the rising generation into the work will be a straightforward matter of offering attractive jobs supported by profitable business operations. The generation that came to believe that "renewable energy is too expensive" will pass its baton to a rising generation that broadly and fully appreciates that there are simply no better ways of energizing a sustainable local or national economy. Not even close.

I write these paragraphs as I look forward to a meeting with a large handful of solar energy colleagues whose individual contributions are an inspiration and whose friendship is a treasure. I plan to tell them that I am hearing a different drummer. I am stepping to the music of "integrated resources enabling sustainability", the tag line of the IRES Network.

Renewable energy experience both counsels patience and encourages optimism. Patient optimism, right livelihood; are there better callings?

Is it possible to be passionate about a vision that is only one in a galaxy of visions, one that is not likely to be realized in one's remaining lifetime... and not necessarily the best or most important? We had better hope so, because the challenges ahead are are proliferating and amazingly complex as humanity makes itself a greater and greater force in the natural world...to its own on-going detriment and the risk of human tragedy on an unprecedented scale.

The best perspective I've come across lately is by Mark Bittman, who argues that we need to reinvent the way we grow our food. http://www.sacbee.com/2013/01/05/5093327/it-is-essential-to-reinvent-the.html.

Bittman's point, that "no major food issue will be resolved in the next 10 years" applies equally to the matter of locally integrated energy resources". So does his perspective that "as pioneers, we must build upon incremental progress, because there isn't quick resolution for complex issues". Build upon incremental progress...just as renewable energy pioneers had to do. Let the work begin!

-- Gerry Braun

©2013 The IRES Network