Energize America: From Concept to Action … Yearly Kos, Chicago, part 1

Energize America, the people-powered plan  Jerome outlinefor a sustainable energy future, has evolved.  Evolved from unknown bloggers sharing concerns about mounting energy problems, to a blogger community developing a holistic approach, to the blogosphere working with Congress to develop specific legislative approaches to help deal with the nation’s challenges.

In Chicago, at  YearlyKos 2007, three of these people came together to review the process, discussing achievements to date, and laying a path into the future.

This diary focuses on the material presented by Jerome-a-Paris,

From Nowhere to Vegas

A 21st Century Lafayette

Marquis de LafayetteJerome a Paris chose to be at a podium, in Chicago, 4 August 2007, to speak to an audience of Americans about his role in sparking and developing an energy concept that would (in part) greatly strengthen American society if (when?) enacted.  His alternative: spending the weekend with his family at the baptism for the newest descendent of the Marquis de Lafayette.  As Jerome spoke, it came to me.  Here is a Frenchman, who has come to America both virtually (through the blogosphere) and in person, who is working with Americans, in support of Americans, on a revolutionary process that could transform this nation (and the globe) to a far better path.  From that moment, a week ago, “Jerome a Paris” is now, for me, The 21st Century Lafayette. May all our grandchildren have a chance to take photos of pigeons on statues of Jerome celebrating the achievement of our vision for a sustainable and prosperous energy future …

 book images of crisis

As Jerome-a-Paris so eloquently laid out in Energize America: two years on, what began several years ago as a conversation, a conversation amid bloggers where all served both educator and educated, has moved far beyond a small community. “Peak Oil”, a little known term even just two years ago, is now commonly understood as one of the key challenges of the 21st Century.

We now know. The problem is clear. Unless there is major change, petroleum products will, inexorably, cost more as we’ve burned the easy oil and demand continues to grow. And, that cost (and potential disruption) of oil products will ripple throughout the globe as modern society (Globalization) is built on a foundation of cheap oil.  

Global Warming Sadly, Peak Oil is not the only challenge the Globe faces. When it comes to Global Warming, the zeitgeist changed as Katrina opened a door that Al Gore walked through.  Global Warming creates an imperative for Winning the Oil Endgame both as soon as possible and in a path that radically reduces humanity’s carbon footprint starting, well, immediately.

Let us be clear. We are not the only ones who recognize lots of plans, concepts out thereand recognize the problem. There are many good plans, good concepts out there, dedicated people working on them, and the quality of this work contributed to our own efforts. We, ourselves, have often asked the question: why another? What is our value added?

Our ideas have, our holistic approach has value … they will contribute to changing the nation toward a better path.  But, let me use Bill McKibben‘s words to explain:

Energize America is like the next step into open source thinking–the truly focused application of diverse and widespread intelligence on a political problem that needs solving fast. It’s like taking the energy and intelligence behind Wikipedia and seeing what happens if you give it a goal.

 Build process at Daily Kos

Just about this time, two years ago, a series of energy discussions began at energy discussions began at Daily Kos.  Jerome a Paris quickly emerged as a leading voice in these discussions, with tens of people gathering in his diaries to discuss and debate energy issues. After several months with 1,000s of comments on energy issues, Jerome took the step of trying to move past discussion of problems to developing solutions, an integrated solution.  He wrote requests for specific proposals, and put up his own ideas for discussion. As per Jerome, “And, boy was it discussed.” Jerome worked through all those comments and posted Building together an effective Dem energy policy 1.

But, this was becoming too much for an individual, two community members (*Devilstower* and Meteor Blades), both with decades of expertise (dating back before the Carter Administration’s Department of Energy, actually), joined with Jerome to form a team to try to make something of this.   And, in the months that followed, diary after diary developed.  Additional people joined the team, sifting through 10,000s of comments and seeking to develop a meaningful and holistic energy policy that would confront and defeat the teamed challenges of Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis.

What was different about this process? The openness of the iterative process. Yes, collaborative teamwork occurred ‘behind the scenes’, but this developed amid diary after diary (after diary) of discussion about what became Energize America (see Energize America tag), where any and all had the chance to comment (often quite passionately) about what they saw as strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in what was developing.

Four Energize America team members presented the fifth iteration of the 20 point plan (download via the EnergizeAmerica website (PDF) publicly at the first YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas in the presence of Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, former Secretary of Energy of Bill Clinton and current presidential candidate, who was kind enough to say kind words about the plan and to encourage us to continue in our efforts.  

Here is the documentation of that presentation:

(Again, I refer you to  Jerome-a-Paris‘s passionate discussion in Energize America — two years on where he discusses his personal motivations and reactions and provides far more detail on this process.)

Slide 11 influence groups

What does this process provide?  What does “open-source thinking … with a goal” mean when it comes to developing policy?  Energy policy or any other form of policy?  This offers a chance to change the dynamic of legislative, to foster a shift in the discussion and influence space between Congress (or any other legislative or government activity) and the citizenry.  Who is “The Person of the Year”?  The “Man Who Bought Washington” or “You”?  Energize America’s process offers a potential template for changing this balance.


In the coming days, two additional diaries will document the Energize America presentation at Yearly Kos 2007.  

  • EA2020:  From Vegas to Chicago
  • EA2020:  Crashing the Hill

Ask yourself:  Are you doing your part to

Are you ready to do your part?

Your voice can … and will make a difference.

So … SPEAK UP … NOW!!!

Cross-posted from Energize America.


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