(Co-Founder & CEO, Solstice || MA USA)
“In Hawai’i, there’s a concept called mālama aina, which means to take care of the land — to take care of that which nourishes you. In Hawai’i, there isn’t a concept of static land conservation the way there is in the West — Hawai’i is a place where the indigenous population lives off the land sustainably, so conserving land means living in harmony with it. It feeds you, gives you what you need, and in turn you take care of it. There’s another word, kuleana, which means responsibility. We have a responsibility to take care of each other, and that’s grounded in the fact that we live on an island — our livelihoods are inextricably tied to one another. The same can be said about Earth. Growing up in Hawaii gave me the foundation for doing community-driven work and work to protect the aina.
Years ago, one of my co-founders and I were working on solar microgrids in rural India. We saw solar being put up and thought — why isn’t that happening in America? The more we looked into it, the more we noticed the inequities in the system. There’s a quote by Warren Buffet, ‘only when the tide goes out do you see who is swimming naked.’ COVID was that tide going out, and we acutely saw that the foundations of our democracy, climate, and public health systems were broken. The people who most need savings on their energy bill — low income folks, BIPOC folks — are the least likely to get them. 80% of Americans can’t put solar on their own roof — they rent, the roof faces the wrong way, or they can’t afford it. Solstice enables households and businesses to buy electricity from shared solar farms in their communities, at no upfront cost with guaranteed savings. The key to making clean energy more democratized is making it affordable, accessible, and simple.
It can feel like tech companies set their moral compass to ‘convenience’ — providing faster taxis or faster pizza. But right now we need to focus on a moral compass for the greater good. We need our leaders to create solutions that not only see a quarterly return, but will make sure our grandchildren live on a healthy planet. That’s a different definition of return on investment.”