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What drives your interest in working on solar energy issues?

Fossil fueled energy is mined from the depths of the earth — contributing to inequity, spoiling the land and atmosphere, and leading to poor health outcomes for those who live near extraction and production sites. By contrast, solar power is literally a product of light from the sky, with far lower resource-extraction and health costs. I’ve always been drawn to this (very real) light-and-the-dark comparison and know what sort of future — and what sort of communities — I want to live in.

What impact do you feel the SolSmart program and you as an Advisor will have on the communities with which you will work?

When we think of sustainable communities, at best, the concepts seem far-reaching and vague; at worst, they are intimidating and overwhelming! Concerned with water, energy, social equity, preparedness and more, city sustainability and planning staff must have a clear grasp of processes to even know where to begin. SolSmart provides that step-wise, how-to framework that can help demystify solar processes in many different communities — making all the difference for turning commitment into action.

What aspects of your work plan are you most excited about working on?

We’re in an urban era that calls for raising ambition on climate and requires cross-departmental action. I’m most excited to support the multi-stakeholder engagement pieces that each of our prospective SolSmart communities will need to take on.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

I want to gain a deeper relationship with the cities and counties I’m working with. In the end, progress on sustainability action isn’t led by lifeless city governments — its led by people with passion and vision working to make their communities better places to live. Just like with anything, work that’s worth doing is challenging, rewarding and involves relationships. If I can learn about my colleagues and make the SolSmart designation process easier (and even some fun), then we can feel happy in addition to the real emissions reduction achieved.

About Kale

Kale works with nearly 200 ICLEI USA cities, counties, and regions to provide technical assistance on GHG emissions management, climate action planning, and resilience. Before joining ICLEI, he worked with the United Nations Development Programme’s Climate Change Adaptation team from the Bangkok Regional Hub, including to write a barrier analysis for distributed solar in Cambodia. He is a former renewable energy editor of Mother Earth News magazine and served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. He received an M.S. in Climate Science and Policy from the Bard Center for Environmental Policy and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University.