Advancing Clean Energy

Back to the Future: Solar Alliance, DuSable Museum Light Up Solar Tech for Students

July 14, 2016

Brittle parchment paper, pulleys and gears, and forged iron are usually the stuff of museums. But in Illinois, it’s where past and future collide in a perfect way.

The Illinois Smart Solar Alliance (ISSA) recently teamed up with the DuSable Museum of African American History to give Chicago school kids a hands-on look at clean energy in action.

Already a pioneer in its exhibits and mission, DuSable Museum also is a first-mover on the energy front, having acquired and installed solar panels in 1998 – making it one of the few Chicago buildings with a solar installation.

It’s exactly that type of commitment to clean energy that ISSA is dedicated to replicate in neighborhoods throughout Illinois.

ISSA, which is an alliance of over 30 businesses, groups and individuals, kick-started the first of its planned Summer Solar Series at DuSable, with the goal to engage and educate community members about the benefit and future of solar energy.

“What better way to launch our summer spotlight on solar than to put the technology right in the hands of grade school students – who will be the ones that will one day be skyrocketing clean energy technologies to a level we can’t even imagine now,” said Reverend Walter Turner, pastor of the New Spiritual Light Missionary Baptist Church.

During the event, held on June 28th, students from Schmid Elementary School in Chicago traveled to DuSable for an interactive learning session on how solar panels convert the sun’s rays to electricity – and how and why the museum was a solar early adopter.

Members of ISSA are committed to growing solar in their communities and identifying solutions to help their neighborhoods participate in Illinois’ growing green economy.

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“We want to create a dialogue and spark collaboration on solar development in order to spur the growth of a green economy on the west side of Chicago, as well as throughout Illinois,” added Dr. Phalese Binion, president of the West Side Ministers Coalition in Chicago. “Alliance events, such as the one last week, will bring that goal to life by making the promise of solar tangible and accessible to all families.”

Members of the growing Alliance include Blacks in Green, ComEd, Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, HOW United and the Westside Ministers Coalition. The Alliance, which has begun regular meetings on solar power and policies, is led by a member advisory council and plans to host educational sessions for Illinois residents on solar power. ComEd is a founding member of ISSA, which has no formal policy or advocacy positions and is a learning, collaborative community of individuals and organizations committed to fairness and inclusion in clean energy.

“It is so important that we open up solar for our communities, especially for those that are often left out in the advancement of new technologies,” said Naomi Davis, president and founder of Blacks in Green. “I look forward to working with the Illinois Smart Solar Alliance to identify ways to not only bring solar energy opportunities to the region but to also create new green jobs for our community.”