Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Annie Carmichael for President!

Good Morning Lovelies!

Man, crazy news all around us! It can be a bit overwhelming, no?
When I get overwhelmed, I like to think about the people I know who are out there, using their hearts and minds to convince others to use their hearts and minds. Allow me to introduce you to just such a person.

Annie Carmichael.

(You may remember her from the post about the Peace party that Vote Solar threw for the D.O.E. to celebrate the installation of their new solar array, but if you don't, let me re-introduce.)

Annie and I have known one another for many years. We went to high school together, were in the same French class (no jokes,) we ran together on the cross country team, her brother is my best friend. We were tight is what I'm saying.

So when she called me and asked if I'd like to voyage down to D.C. and cover the Vote Solar party, I said: "of course."

"Good ol' Annie," thought I. I had no idea how good.

This amazing woman is working hard for a cleaner future for us all.
Annie works for the group Vote Solar as their Federal Policy Director. Vote Solar is a group that: "engages with state and local governments to build sustainable solar markets, removing regulatory barriers and laying the necessary groundwork for a solar future."

Annie recently was kind enough sit for a brief interview:

SF: Who are you?

AC: My name is Annie Carmichael. I am a clean energy advocate.

SF: What are you working on?

AC: Right now my first priority is extending the expiring federal clean energy tax incentives. This package, which includes solar tax credits that makes it 30% cheaper for home owners and businesses owners to go solar, is set to expire on December 31, 2008. Sadly enough, these incentives essentially represent the entirety of our federal renewable energy policy platform. We cannot afford to let them expire, not when
our drive towards a renewable energy economy is already way too sloooowwww.

(The incentive package recently passed. It was attached to the massive bailout plan. Sweet.)

SF: How long have you been working there?

AC: I joined Vote Solar at the beginning of the 2008.

SF: What were you doing before?

AC: After college at UC Santa Cruz I moved out to Washington D.C. to organize for progressive federal energy policies. I spent three years there working on energy efficiency and renewable energy legislation. Then I took two years off to travel in Argentina and go to Graduate school at Oxford in the U.K.

SF: What are your short term goals for Vote Solar? What are your long
term goals?

AC: My short term goal is definitely a long-term extension of the solar tax credit. We need to send a clear signal to renewable energy companies and American citizens that our government is committed to clean energy production. Right now our renewable energy markets are growing rapidly, but they are still emerging markets, that need government support.

Our tax payer dollars subsidize the oil and gas industry to the tune of $18 billion every year, so unless we are going to do away with all those subsidies, I say we need to give renewables the same leg up.

Long-term I want to see the U.S. go 100% renewable, and dramatically improve our efficiency levels in all sectors of the economy.

SF: How is your office situation? How do things work over at VS?

AC: I just have to say I love the way Vote Solar operates. Our Executive Director, Adam Browning, really fosters a collaborative, supportive environment. There are six of us working on state policy and while we each have a distinct portfolio of states, we help each other out all the time.

SF: What excites you?

AC: The ocean. Hip-hop music. Yosemite.

SF: What inspires you?

AC: Nature.

SF: Who inspires you?

AC: My brother, my whole family really. My colleagues. Michelle Obama. Hillary Clinton. John Muir.

SF: How do you deal with rejection and hard times?

AC: Perhaps I have an unusual time-reference, but I often remember that in billions of years the sun will become a red giant and engulf the earth. Such a reminder puts everything in perspective you know? Nothing is REALLY worth getting angry about.

SF: What is the most important thing for people to know about your work?

AC: I want people to know that when people respond to our calls to action, when they contact their elected leaders, those phone calls and email really do make a difference. I want people to have faith in our democracy and actively engage.

SF: If a child asked you what they should do when they grow up, how
would you answer?

AC: I would say, "don't think about that yet…go outside and play. Go get dirty and tired and then sleep well."

(Nice answer!)

SF: Where do you get your news?

AC: I listen to NPR, and the NY Times every morning. I check in at CNN.com during the day and whatever links my friends have on their google chat IDs. I often watch the Daily Show and PBS News Hour.

SF: Do you have a TV?

AC: Yes. For the first time in a decade.

SF: What do you do for exercise?

AC: I run, climb, surf, and walk a lot.

When we were just in D.C. the group that Annie had assembled had walked down to the D.O.E. building, carrying signs, smiling, waving. Understandably, building security at the D.O.E. got a bit edgy at seeing this group form out of nowhere. Men in suits appeared, speaking into their wrist watches. German Shepherds and their handlers popped out and began pacing around. Things got a tad tense.

Annie said: "Well, let's go say hello."
She and I then walked over to the biggest, broadest, most intimidating man I've ever seen. I was terrified. Kept my hands in plain sight, no sudden moves, that sort of thing.

The fearless Annie Carmichael walked right up to him, held out her hand and introduced herself. She sweetly explained who she was, who she worked for, and what we were all there to do.

The giant man said: "You're not here to protest?"

Annie: "No sir, we're just here to encourage and support."

GM: "Not to protest?"

Annie: "Nope."

At this, the giant man looked a trifle confused. He looked at us, then over at the smiling group of solar installation technicians peacefully showing their signs to passersby, back at us. Then he smiled.

From that moment on, things were different. The men with the German shepherds began playing with their dogs, everyone relaxed, and before we walked away, Annie had convinced the Nice Giant to let our group come and assemble underneath the D.O.E. building, as it was threatening to rain.

Annie did that. With all the fearlessness of someone who understands the law and isn't afraid to exercise her constitutional right to get together with her fellow citizens and say: "Good job, D.O.E. Nicely done. Don't forget to pass the incentive package to support further solar research and growth."

We got there and things were scary, and with some beautifully applied energy, Annie made it all right. Made it cool for us to be there, and more than that, made the good people whose job it is to protect the building feel safe and relaxed, knowing that our presence there was beneficial.

I was so impressed.

When I get down, and things seem chaotic, (Which they are, and always will be. No worries.) I think about Annie and people like her. People who understand the way the game is played and how to use their skills for the benefit of us all. Annie Carmichael and her freedom-loving kind are the reason that I can sleep at night.

Because knowing that there are smart, driven, talented people in this world who are firmly for justice, equal rights, Peace, and sustainability is sometimes all I need.

There are lots of Annies on this magical planet.
SuperForest will try to introduce them to you.

A huge thank you and congratulations to Annie Carmichael and Vote Solar, who worked so hard to get the Solar incentive package passed, and who continue to blaze the trail toward a sustainable future for all Americans.

Go Annie! You maverick, you!


Jackson and Team SuperForest


spoon said...

Sweet story!

ellen said...

so inspiring, annie - and well-written, jackson!

bob carmichael said...

I'm proud of my daughter Annie Carmichael. She has always been a person I truly admire and love... She has always been extremely focused and it is great to see her in action. She is a wonderful daughter! And she can surf, climb and outrun a lot of people!!!

Go Annie Carol Carmichael.

Love DAD