The Art of Living + Working Sustainably | Weekly ensemble

Better World Weekly 119: Word of Mouth, Climate Wins, & Big Box Solar

Published about 2 years ago • 5 min read


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Hey y'all,

Happy Monday!

This last Saturday tied the single-day snowfall record in Boston—that didn’t slow down our pups...

If you’re new here, I’m Cory Ames, the Founder of Grow Ensemble.

You can connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

In this newsletter, The Better World Weekly, I share my thoughts and experiences in the world of social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and social impact, as well as my musings on seeking meaning and purpose in life and work.

Enjoy this edition of The Better World Weekly



🗣 Word of Mouth

My life is the way it is, because of word of mouth.

I took an interest in entrepreneurship and building things online because of a book my brother recommended I read when I was 17.

I likewise met the person who would hire me, mentor me, and ultimately promote me to the CEO position of his multi-million dollar company because my brother connected us.

That boss and mentor told me that Austin, TX was a great place for young people to live.

So I tried it out.

There, I surrounded myself with good people, trusting they’d introduce me to more good people.

That’s how I met my wife—my best friend, my ultimate confidant, the absolute love of my life.

She recommended I check out social entrepreneurship, and soon after, I attended a conference that would change the trajectory of my professional life, directing me toward sustainable business.

That inspired me to start Grow Ensemble and my podcast, Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation, which has become a platform for a life’s worth of work, largely due to guests’ recommendations for who I should talk to next.

I’ll take a restaurant, book, or movie recommended to me from a friend, even an acquaintance, over anything I’d find myself with an online search.

Honestly, when the opportunity arises, I’ll even take the recommendation of an excited stranger like the older woman in the Trader Joe’s line who directed Annie and me to Meow Wolf years ago.

This is my favorite way to interact with the world, to explore it, to test out and try new things.

I’m sure word of mouth has similarly played a big role in your life as well.

And it feels equally great to give these recommendations as it is to receive one.

When we all experience something exceptional, something that has us touching on the richness of life (one of the things we get most excited about) our first thought is about who else we can share it with.

So many wonderful things exist in this world that we can’t possibly know about or experience it all on our own.

It’s this exact experience, the thoughtful and genuine exchange of enthusiasm (through the recommendation, the referral, etc.), that we (here at Grow Ensemble) want to recreate in the world, again and again and again.

But not just for what we watched on TV or, for the best live performance we’ve ever attended (American Utopia, by the way).

We wanted to find ideas and people we loved in the world, and who we thought were making it better, too.

And built into Grow Ensemble is this basic, most simple desire of ours to turn and say…

“Hey! I think this {thing/idea/person} is great, I really think you will, too.”

It’s word of mouth we’re wanting to create for good.

We think the planet is an awe-inspiring, incredible place…and we think the people living on it are too.

Negativity and cynicism can drown everything else out. That’s understandable. There are problems.

There are crises that we need to mind.

But that can’t be it.

We need much more than that—we need a sense for what we’re working towards, what we’re changing for, not just what we’re trying to avoid.

And this is in large part why we wanted to do what it is we do.

There are people who are making change and progress that’s exciting to learn about. Change and progress that if you heard about it, it might inspire you to be part of it as well.

There are ways in which the planet is incredibly perfect the way it already is, we just need the point, nod, or nudge to notice.

We’re creating word of mouth for good—to share in solutions, to share in the awe-inspiring, to share and build a vision for what the world can be.
— —

☀️ Rooftop Solar on Big Box Stores

Think of all the Walmarts, Targets, Costcos, shopping malls, and warehouses throughout the United States.

Together, their cumulative rooftop space amounts to 7.2 BILLION square feet!

That’s the size of El Paso, Texas.

What if all these rooftops were equipped with solar panels?

Well, that would power 8 million U.S. homes. Or, it “could provide half of the annual electricity that these stores currently demand.”

But not only that, solar panel installs like this indirectly lower energy costs as well. The panels offer shade during the day and additional insulation at night.

This isn’t just a pie in the sky idea either, some of these retailers are starting to take advantage of their wasted rooftop space.

As reported on in Grist, there are some ways we could accelerate this trend:

--Extend the federal tax credit for rooftop solar and allow companies to claim it via direct payments (rather than through tax returns) Biden’s Build Back Better Act that’s stuck in the Senate would do both. 😅

--Offering property tax exemptions for the value of the equipment

--Exempting solar equipment from sales taxes

--Allowing companies to lease the solar panels from a third party

--Or, a bit more aggressive...if companies don’t use these rooftops for solar, they should forfeit to do so to the local municipality.

With a little bump in incentives it seems like a small but valuable solution like this could build in momentum.

While I’m not optimistic about the federal level of government action (currently) it seems like states and private entities could still accelerate this change.

Read the full breakdown here.

— —

🇺🇸 America’s Most Energy Efficient Cities

As reported in The New York Times, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released their annual Clean Energy Scorecard ranking U.S. cities on their policies for greater energy efficiency.

Here’s how it stacked up:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Seattle (my home state showing up strong!)
  3. Washington
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Boston (my current home town)
  6. New York (actually tied for 5th with Boston)
  7. Denver
  8. Los Angeles
  9. San Jose, CA
  10. Oakland

I was bummed, but not surprised, to not see a single Texan city (where Annie and I will most likely return post-Boston).

Any of these surprise you?

Think there are any up and comers who would make the 2022 list?

— —

🏆A Couple Wins for the Planet?

There were a few wins for the planet this last week in our efforts to curb global warming, most notably:

Any wins you came across recently that weren’t listed here?

Thanks for reading! I'll be back next Monday with another edition of The Better World Weekly.

Let's build a better world, together.


CORY AMES - @AmesCory

Founder & CEO, Grow Ensemble

— —

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🌍 - Better World Weekly (#119) - 🌍


The Art of Living + Working Sustainably | Weekly ensemble

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