Windsor: A Vision of the Future?

Thu, 04/12/2012 - 00:00 -- Anonymous (not verified)

Sometimes it can feel as if the future you want is far away and receding into a fog of delay. But there are moments when you can catch a glimpse of that future and realize that it’s not so far away after all. That is what happened to me the other day when I took a trip to Windsor.

I have been working in Hamilton for some time to build opportunities for good green jobs -- jobs we need, jobs that will help us get off carbon fuels and destructive practices, jobs that will last.

It isn’t easy. As in most struggles worth engaging in, it’s often two steps forward, one step back. We win some and we lose some. Lately is seems that we’re holding our own but not moving forward.

I was invited to Windsor for the launch of a new environmental product. I haven’t been down to the warm south west for a few years, but I was pleased by what I saw.

As I approached Windsor I saw miles of wind mills, steadily turning in a fairly light breeze. It was clear that there was a lot of clean electricity going into the grid, electricity that would not result in asthma in kids, and that is not corrupting our environment.

These towers also represented local jobs, good jobs, jobs with a future; jobs in steel, machining, construction, and maintenance.

Once in Windsor, I met up with a local environmental activist, Mark Bartlett. Mark works at Chrysler and has been there for about 24 years. He is also environmentally conscious to the core.

Mark wanted me to see what was happening at a plant called Unconquered Sun. Unconquered Sun makes solar panels, the racks and mounting, everything but the inverters. They also install those products.

Unconquered Sun’s founder, Sean Moore, started the company after he was laid-off by Ford. He saw the opportunity to enter the renewable energy field before the Green Energy Act and has worked to grow Unconquered Sun ever since. Almost all of his hires are workers who have lost their jobs in the decline of the auto industry. As a result, he has a skilled, knowledgeable, and flexible work force. Sean will go on and on about how life on the line these days calls upon the creativity and skill of every worker. This foundation of skills and attitude is one of the strengths of Unconquered Sun.

And this strength shows in the two new products they launched that day: a solar powered golf cart that, on a sunny day, can return to the club house fully charged after a round of golf. It requires minimal charging, which means that a golf course needs only half as many carts as they would if they had conventional electric carts. This dramatically reduces the electricity bill for the golf course.

The other product is a solar powered water pump. This is great for gardeners and specialty farmers. It also has a strong future in providing water to rural and poor communities in developing countries.

In Windsor, the future that I want, the one I know we need to head toward, doesn’t seem so far off. Companies like Unconquered Sun are demonstrating that we can confront climate change, and we can have a fair and prosperous economy and a clean and safe environment.

I'm back in Hamilton now and can see that we still have a long way to go. But I’m grateful for my trip to Windsor. Now I have a clearer picture of future we want, and a renewed belief that we will get there.