Getting Personal About the Sun’s Energy

posted Feb 28, 2017, 12:00 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 4, 2017, 8:57 AM ]

Getting Personal About the Sun’s Energy

By Geoffrey Smith, Solar Energy Program Coordinator

That gigantic star in the sky that we call our ‘Sun’ has been a focal point of human culture and reflection since us humanoids set our biped feet on the planet. In this modern era of photovoltaic technology, we are redefining our human connection to this intergalactic source of life. A new documentary movie, ‘Catching the Sun’, shares the very personal stories of some people who are discovering a new relationship with their Sun in exciting and meaningful ways.

Catching the Sun at Congregation Shomrei Torah
I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion following a recent showing of ‘Catching the Sun’ at Congregation Shomrei Torah’s ‘Social Action Goes to the Movies’ film series. (Photo: Geoffrey's selfie in the crowd during the film.) For the crowd of over 160 who viewed the movie that evening, rooftop solar became much more than a technology. Our panelists brought home many of the themes in the film:

  • Panelist Laura Goldman’s story of her and her husband’s success with their Sebastopol-based company, ‘Solar Works’, mirrored that of the Chinese entrepreneur in the film whose vision of a solar-powered future has created thousands of jobs world-wide.

  • The film chronicles the personal stories of several individuals who have found work and meaning in the solar industry, stories that mirror panelist Tor Allen’s work in education and developing school curriculum through his ‘Solar Schoolhouse’ and ‘Solarize Sebastopol’ initiatives, which have inspired many to pursue solar on their own homes, and even careers in the solar industry

  • The film talks about young people entering the workforce who are faced with a tough job market and lack of skills. Our panelist Alana Macken is a high school sophomore and a member of the Youth Advisory Board of the Center for Climate Protection. She described the challenge she faces in the classroom learning about climate change when the curriculum, school administrators and even classmates make it difficult to obtain science-based factual information about climate change and renewable energy.

  • The film’s lead character is Van Jones, whose work with Green for All led to his appointment as President Barack Obama’s Special Advisor for Green Jobs. In his role as Clean Energy Advocate, panelist Geoffrey Smith challenged the audience to take action now by choosing to go solar on their own homes and businesses, and to engage with local elected officials at the regional, state and federal levels to promote strong laws and regulations that support distributed rooftop solar.

In the context of today’s national political landscape (POTUS 45), the stories of personal engagement that were shared this evening filled me with hope for a future that is bright with solar energy. It will be a long road to sustainability, but we are all on that road now. I am hopeful. What else can I be?

(Visit to learn how you can watch this film on your PC or TV.)

PS - Half the fun of putting on events like this is the promotion!

KSRO Drivetime with Jaxon
Geoffrey in the studio with Drive with Steve Jaxon on KSRO

Geoffrey with co-panelist Laura Goldman in Laura's Living Room on KOWS