Spreading the Wealth of Nature
Spreading the Wealth of Nature
Green space, clean energy and access to nature are vital to our health and economic well-being. Social and environmental inequality has contributed to the poor health and economic outcomes of people living in underserved communities. These communities are disproportionately exposed to air pollution and lack trees and green spaces, which has influenced urban heat patterns, making the areas several degrees hotter in summer than wealthier tree covered areas of Nashville.
Promoting racial and economic equity and fighting climate change are inherently entwined. We are addressing this environmental injustice through our Spreading the Wealth of Nature program. This program aims to improve the health, and economic well being of our residents through access to nature and renewable clean energy.
Solar Equity Program
Workforce development. Solar-powered affordable homes. Equitable futures.
Our new Solar Equity Program will train and employ a diverse workforce in the renewable energy sector. This program will help to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving human health and the environment by decreasing air and water pollution. It will promote energy justice and equitable futures for all by powering affordable homes with solar energy while creating jobs and economic development in underserved communities most affected by climate change. The renewable energy field has historically lacked diversity and representation within minority and workforce communities. We want to change that.
The world must transition to renewable energy for the health of our planet. This transition and energy system should be equitable, affordable, and accessible so that everyone regardless of race, nationality, income or geographic location can help steer this process.
We are happy to announce that we are bringing our workforce training back as part of our Spreading the Wealth of Nature Program with a focus on renewable solar energy and efficiency.
Solar Equity Program Summary
The purpose of introducing the Solar Equity Program is to draw on the original vision of Be a Helping Hand as a workforce development program by training participants to build and install solar arrays plus battery storage on affordable homes. Participants will learn the technical skill sets, and receive the tools required for entry-level positions within the renewable energy industry. The training course will include classroom instruction followed by on-the-job training installing solar systems for affordable housing. Participants will have the opportunity to earn NABCEP and OSHA credentials following their training. Job placement/retention assistance and soft skills training will be provided.
These solar systems plus battery storage will increase affordability of housing by significantly lowering energy bills, generating clean energy and improving air quality. Battery storage allows residents to own their solar energy surplus to be available in the event of a disaster or power outage.
The goal of the Solar Equity Program is to start specific and local, but to continue to develop into a multi-faceted, far-reaching network through partnerships with other similar organizations. During the first phase of the roll-out of the Solar Equity Program, the goal will be for our participant-trainees to add solar arrays plus battery storage to new affordable homes built by Be a Helping Hand. During the final phase, participants-trainees from the Solar Equity Program will be subcontracted to install solar arrays on affordable houses built by BHH and our partner organizations. We will lead the way towards equitable clean energy, economic empowerment, and affordable housing for the environmental justice communities in Nashville who stand to benefit the most.
We have collaborated with Root Nashville and Nashville Tree Foundation in planting native trees on all of our affordable housing properties in order to improve the health of our communities and to help grow Nashville’s tree canopy. Trees are essential to sustaining all life on the planet and are a natural climate solution.
We work with the Cumberland River Compact to plant rain gardens in our communities using native plants to help clean Nashville’s stormwater, mitigate flooding, provide food and habitat for pollinators, songbirds, and butterflies. Rain gardens also provide a beautiful, uplifting, natural, and sweet-smelling environment for residents to enjoy.
We are planting landscapes for residents to reestablish connection to nature by installation of native perennial garden beds. Not only are many native plants drought resistant and relatively low maintenance but perennials establish roots that ensure their return for years to come. Where appropriate, medicinal plants that have been used for centuries by indigenous and native peoples will be planted. Many common ailments related to life in the city can be remedied by plant allies such as lemon balm for stress and anxiety. Common uses, preparation instructions, and any other pertinent information about these plants are shared with residents. It is our hope to do a part in increasing the quality of life by creating sanctuaries within the city for our neighbors to enjoy while simultaneously providing pollinators to help the bee and butterfly population.
Nature Programs for Kids
We are introducing children in our communities to nature programs so that they can receive all of the nurturing benefits at a young age while learning to love and protect the natural world for future generations. To this end, we partner with Plenty International’s Kids To The Country program which introduces city kids to the healing powers of nature and community through their summer educational programs on The Farm in Summertown.