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Park Spring Flower

Solar One in the Time of Coronavirus

Dear friends,

On behalf of the staff and Board of Solar One, I sincerely hope this email finds you and your families well and safe. In these unprecedented times, communication and continuity are more important than ever, and it’s in that spirit that I want to check in with you about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, as it now seems likely that this pause in normal life is not going to end anytime soon.

Like other organizations, our entire staff is working from home, having regular team and staff meetings via teleconferencing, and are working up plans to continue serving the communities that depend on us while keeping our staff, our students and trainees, and our partners from falling ill.

Like virtually every nonprofit in NYC and around the country, many of our programs have been cancelled because they require in-person delivery.  While this has had an effect on our budget, we are adapting and trying to transform our programs to meet a new reality: remote delivery.  This is particularly true of our Workforce Training and Green Design Lab programs, both of which serve populations (public school students and workforce trainees) who often bear a disproportionate brunt of hardship in a severe financial downturn.  To continue providing high-quality, practically useful information, education and training despite inhospitable conditions is a central part of Solar One’s mission.

Here are some of the ways we’ll be continuing our programs during this time of social distancing:

Our Green Design Lab team had been ramping up for our busiest Spring season ever with the delivery of our programs in classrooms throughout the city; understandably, those classes have been cancelled.  As the New York City Department of Education transitions to distance learning, our team of K-12 Educators is working to modify our hands-on lessons for a virtual learning environment. The GDL team hopes to be able to provide online environmental STEM curriculum and resources for NYC teachers and students that explore energy efficiency, climate change, and solar. Our Educators are also developing webinars and other interactive content to share with our networks.

At the same time, Stuyvesant Cove Park staff are also working with the GDL team to create virtual field trips, webinars and other topics that complement current school science and nature-based programming, while continuing to virtually manage our high school internship program, and creating and sharing free content on Instagram, with a focus on nature-based solutions to climate change, organic gardening and pollinator insects.

As with our GDL program, our Workforce Training program had classes fully booked for March, April and May.  Now that those classes have been cancelled, our Workforce team is working with our partners to establish ways to deliver webinar-based training for already scheduled April/May classes. We have already created an online curriculum for one of our NYSERDA projects and hope to be able to do this for other courses like OSHA (occupational safety) and NABCEP (certifications for renewable energy practitioners). Additionally, workforce instructors are looking at ways to adapt our regular green construction, building operations and other courses to a virtual delivery system.

Our CECP (NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities) program is continuing its emission reduction work with the NYC Mayor’s Office and Division of Energy Management remotely, helping with policy proposals and consulting with building owners and operators to get their buildings into compliance.

Here Comes Solar is continuing to deliver solar technical assistance services for high-impact solar projects in NYC. Our team is offering clients remote solar consultations, and we are working closely with our partners to modify our community solar outreach strategy to minimize face-to-face interactions. To join a community solar initiative, please fill out the form at herecomessolar.nyc and someone from our team will follow up in 1-2 business days.

As with all of you, we do not yet know when the ground will settle or when we will be able to resume in-person delivery of our programs.  We are planning for a long ride and will continue to keep up our communications with you through our weekly eNewsletter.  But, as you can see, we’re having no trouble keeping busy, and we’ll send out more info on what we’re doing programmatically as the situation changes.

Stay safe and healthy,

Chris Collins
Executive Director