The national campaign coordinator for Energy Democracy Project Selena Feliciano has worked in the renewable energy field for a number of years, and now she is working more in the environmental and climate justice.
Selena said to Egypt Today that Energy Democracy Project is a coalition of about 35 different organizations, each organization is doing its work on the ground.
“Some organizations are hosting community workshops to help people understand what energy even is, while others are doing policy and advocacy work, trying to pass some policies at the federal level for communities to be able to own, control and manage their own power. So it's a pretty diverse group and a pretty diverse set of stakeholders. But I'd say at the end of the day, we are really trying to work towards unity and trying to figure out how all of these organizations can work in tandem” Selena said.
On how can we have sustainable economy with the use of solar energy Selena explained that renewable energy as a technology is a tool, it is not the solution for climate change.
“We can't expect a climate tech company or a solar panel manufacturing company to save us. At the end of the day, we're the ones who know what we want and how we want the world to look like, we want it to be flourishing and we want to be able to not only survive, but to thrive as well.”
Selena further explained that we all want clean air, clean water and we want the same for the upcoming generations.
“ Solar energy can be used as a tool to help people understand that our relationship with the sun can be so much greater than what it is currently. We have to understand that solar energy can power our homes, seeds grow because of the sun and we get our vitamin D from the sun. The sun is power so solar energy is just a tool for us to deepen our relationship with the sun.”
Selena added that human stories help us to determine how we perceive the world around us.
Through Energy Democracy project Selina is leading a new campaign to invite people to tell their own stories.
“ We figured out that our stories are also quite similar and that we all want the same thing. “ Within the context of climate, we all want bright future that is healthy for all of us and that we can all thrive in. Through telling our stories we will be able to connect, we will start to recognize that we're not alone in what we want and we can actually move forward and work together” Selena added.
Selena further explained that within climate activism as a movement, youth are leading really radical things.
“It's the youth who are able to think outside of themselves as individuals and do some really incredible activism. Youth have always been at the forefront because they also know that they're going to be the ones who are facing a lot of the consequences of climate change.”
Pertaining to the environmental changes that Selena has tracked over the past years of working as climate activist she said that she started to see a greater acceptance of the intersection between the climate movement and a lot of other movements.
So for example, in 2020 we saw the uprisings that occurred in the United States after the murder of George Floyd and we saw a sort of cultural reckoning with understanding that our history as a country is pretty dark and specifically exploits a lot of people. So when we think about the climate movement in the past few years, I think there has been more conversations around that. “
Selena added that low income communities of color are impacted first and worst by climate change so they're the ones who know what needs to happen.
On how hard it is to attract the attention of the international community to climate change, Selina admitted that it is hard because within the context of the United States, climate is a political issue and there are a big chunk of people who don't believe that climate change is even a real thing.
“So again it is the matter of how do we tell the story? How do we tell the story in a way that's irresistible and that invites people into this movement and make them understand that the wish for a safe home and community is a climate issue in the first place as we see for example how people move from one place to the other because of rising sea levels.”
Selena said that like in the past few centuries, specifically because of colonization and capitalism, we have grown apart from our connection to one another and our connection to nature and how beautiful it could be if we could actually develop that reconnection.
Selena has worked in the renewable energy space for a number of years, and now she is working now more in the environmental and climate justice.
Recently we have a big influx of profit driven initiatives to fight climate change. “Of course we need the companies that are developing the solar panels, and of course, we're gonna need those who are developing technologies as tools” Selena recounted.
“But at the end of the day, it's capital, it's money, it's profit that has gotten us to here. So it'd be naive of us to think that the very same people who have been funneling money into the extractive systems are the ones who are gonna take us out of it. We must moving into a justice framework and ensure that we are allowing the voices of those who have been historically pushed aside to be the loudest and the clearest, because they're the ones who have left outside of this extractive system and haven't benefited at all from the extractive system.”