I am partnered with Soulardarity. The name says it all. They are about solar energy, community and solidarity. Their mission is to create and foster energy democracy in Highland Park. They were created after the repossession of over 1,000 streetlights by DTE. Soulardarity hopes to lower energy costs for the residents of Highland Park and create a community where the people are valued above profit, and the energy system is just and equitable. This summer, I am completing research for a feasibility study for a lighting-as-a-service business model. This enterprise would allow cities, Highland Park Developers, organizations, etc.. to lease lights from a subsidiary related to Soulardarity that would allow people to have a monthly subscription to pay for the lights. This could potentially allow Soulardarity to become a competitor to DTE in Michigan. I am starting to interview stakeholders next week. I am nervous, but excited after I spent this morning practicing interviews with my supervisor who acted as the various people I will be talking to.
I have loved working with Soulardarity these last two weeks. The team is very supportive and welcoming. They are also incredibly busy and passionate about the work they do and it is quite inspiring to be around. I am tired from working, but happy and grateful that I get to be a part of this team for the summer. I already know that it will be sad to leave at the beginning of August.
Like the support I have received from the Soulardarity staff, I have also enjoyed our own DECERP community. Everyone seems very supportive to each other’s projects and ideas. I have enjoyed hearing about the other students’ work as well as being able to resonate with others who also feel unqualified and overwhelmed. It is nice to know that I am not alone in those feelings. I hope that our group will get closer throughout the program even though all communication is virtual :(.
This experience, so far, has been tough and rewarding. It has not been what I had expected and yet is still meeting my expectations (does that make sense?). I am excited to continue building relationships with the other students in DECERP and the other staff for Soulardarity. I am very thankful to be able to be a part of both of those communities and excited to continue my research and making more connections.