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WEST, Holland’s Energy Group
WEST was founded in 2007 by Hollanders Marty Dugan and John Fulenwider as a Macatawa-area citizens group gathering to discuss our energy future, especially in light of our increasing knowledge of the impacts of fossil-fuel technologies on climate change. Its defining description says WEST‘S purpose is “to educate and advocate for a clean, sustainable energy future for the Macatawa area.” A second self description is: WEST Says YES to ideas for energy efficiency, conservation, sustainability, and significant lowering of energy production, making a difference locally with seven future generations in mind.
The name ‘WEST’ was an acronym for the phrase ‘Windmill on Every Steeple Team‘. In 2008, the group’s webpage was created, using the name (www.westmichiganenergy.org). The newsletter headline is: “WEST EnergyNews.”
A. Led by co-founder Marty Dugan, WEST’s major outreach was in the events of the March 2008 and 2009 Energy Weeks. Each opened with the St. Pat’s Parade, re-defined as a 2-Green event. Displays of wind and solar power options followed as did a film shown at the Knickerbocker. Further events were cosponsored: by the city (free MAC bus rides and advertisements; speakers from Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids), by the League of Women Voters (energy legislation); by Holland BPW (major outside speakers); by Holland Creation Care (results of a survey of churches and informational discussions); by Holland Christian High (displays and debate on energy options by students). The key to success was co-sponsorship: since each group brought its membership and interested public to the event.
In that same period, WEST coordinated presentations on the efforts to build a new coal fired power plant on the waterfront and the establishment of a carbon sequestration demonstration project in Holland. Emphasis was placed on efforts to maintain a positive and cooperative atmosphere for civil discourse on these controversial topics.
B. In January 2009, the Education Committee of WEST began the process of making education an on-going process by co-sponsoring with Herrick Library a weekly lunchtime series of speakers on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Hundreds of people listened and asked questions of speakers such as GMB geo-thermal engineer Steve Hamstra, green-energy-business founder Chris Byrnes, pastor Jim Liske, and ‘make your home energy efficient’ practitioner Ken Freestone.
C. In June 2009, WEST began a monthly speaker series with the following speakers:
June: Mark Kornelis, Community Action Agency -- energy efficiency for low-income families
July: Bob Mihos, Holland BPW, ‘What does energy optimization mean for YOU?’
Aug. Jeff Ebihara & Consert founder: ‘Smart Grid Energy Optimization’
Sept. Kyle Denning, Viability: “Carbon footprints and carbon credits’
Oct. Brian Bosgraff, owner Dwell Tech: ‘Let’s Talk Home Energy Performance’
Nov. Paul Isely, GVSU Economics ‘Cap and Trade: what does it offer? What does it mean?
Dec. Richard Orawiec, BTF Solar ‘Solar Hot Water”
In 2010, monthly green-energy events will continue, including a lunchtime series at Herrick Library.
At the Oct. 27, 2009 WEST, Co-Chair Don Triezenberg proposed that, along with education, we develop programs in the area of “Legislative Action” and “Community-Buzz Action”
Legislative actions, for example, could be:
Organizing by city wards and townships to discuss a sustainable energy future with political leaders
Attending and speaking at Sustainability Committee, City Council and Township board meetings
“Buzz’ actions, to get energy ideas in public focus, could be:
Getting discussions going at MAC TV
Developing an area map of ‘Green Buildings’ and getting public exposure for it.
. WEST Organizational Structure
Co-founders Marty Dugan and John Fulenwider were, by their action, the first ‘leaders’ of WEST. In June 2007, Chris Byrnes and David Trudell became co-chairs, coordinating a group of about twenty ‘core’ members. Commitees on education, events, policy and research were formed and reported in at monthly meetings. In 2009, Don Triezenberg and Sara Leeland were named co-chairs. In summer 2009, seeing the need to have someone focus on our financial affairs, Russ Packard agreed to become the first WEST treasurer.
Sponsoring monthly events led to the need for two monthly meetings: one for the events and a second for planningfuture directions. An active group of WEST members attend these meetings, which are open to all.
WEST has discussed gaining formal non-profit status, but that step is not yet in place.
As of November 2009, 100+ people have attended WEST meetings and/or asked to be on our contact list. An addition 100+ political or civic contacts are regulars on our e-list. . In September 2009, the WEST planning group voted to ask that those who can afford to donate $10 as a ’membership fee’ be asked to do so. A strong characteristic of our group is that many of our members are working for a sustainable energy future in their own lives, homes, businesses and affiliations with other groups. Thus, WEST is less a traditional hierarchical organization than a network of active people, expanding their networks and working to raise awareness in the community and its other organizations as a whole. In a world that is beginning to creatively adapt to changed economic, political and environmental challenges, WEST is in the process of creating a new kind of organization: one that encourages and applauds creative activity on the part of all its members. Community creativity in response to climate change and its accompanying energy use issues is a goal we all share.
We have representatives from local businesses, non-profits, local and state government, retirees (Corporations, electrical engineer, teacher), professional architects, engineers and others.
We monitor and address legislative issues affecting energy policy, attend local and regional energy events and presentations and we coordinated Holland's ENERGY WEEK in March.
Please join us at our meetings, check our Events Calendar for Energy/Environmental acitivities in our region, read about local projects and visit the links/resources page for other groups that are having a positive impact on our environment.
Thank you for caring about a better Energy Future!
Committees and other ways to participate
|Technical and Research
||Events and Presentations
|Advocacy and Policy
||Education and Awareness
||Attend Monthly Meetings