Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Year of Learning and Writing about Energy Democracy in the United States

This year, I plan to focus my life on producing a Master’s thesis that helps advance Energy Democracy within the United States. My larger goal of this thesis is to create something useful to at least one national organization, so that the piece serves as the basis for a campaign to be executed in next year (and ideally beyond). I also want to use this thesis to catapult myself into the next phase of my life after grad school at MIT, which I hope will be to help run a campaign within the 2018 election cycle to win tangible political victories for energy democracy.

Over the last several years of working fairly independently on various projects, I have learned the value of consistently putting in small amounts of work each day towards a long-term goal. This approach helped me to succeed in creating a SustainUS strategic plan, winning grants, and designing and implementing a #StopTPP campaign plan. Outside of SustainUS, the approach of consistent small amounts of effort over a long period of time has allowed me to run marathons, become a better meditator, and be a strong student. I believe that taking a similar approach with my thesis on Energy Democracy will yield similar results. Over the course of the year, small daily contributions of writing will add up to form the core of a valuable final master's thesis.

Structured effort is not something I do naturally. I am easily distracted, and generally I like to chase the exciting ideas of the moment. And having a wide variety of intellectual stimuli is very important for me to maintain enough enthusiasm to move projects forward. But as I have grown older, I now recognize that my work can only create something meaningful if it adds up towards a long-term goal. Consistent working towards something keeps me grounded and helps keep me happy. While I still have a lot of fun imagining the big amazing possibilities of potential new life projects, I only feel self-actualization when I can see my labors bearing fruit and creating something real. And that requires making choosing to focus my energy on the things that matter most.

With these thoughts in mind, I am setting a personal goal to write 500 words on Energy Democracy in the United States five times per week for the full year. That comes to 2500 words per week, or 125,000 words over the course of the full year (assuming that I take off two weeks). Hopefully, there will be enough good content from this consistent practice of writing on energy democracy to form the basis for my master's thesis. And if produce this writing in the form of blogposts and other shared content, I'm hopeful that my writing and my ideas can also continuously improve over the course of the year through the feedback of friends and colleagues.

A quick final thought for this first reflection: I believe that a structure of a daily practice of writing on energy democracy will be especially helpful for me in the coming turbulent age of Trump. I expect this year to be filled with political chaos and incredibly exciting resistance organizing. Without having a solid anchor, I could easily be distracted by short-term responses to Trump and not put the time I desire into learning about the long-game of transitioning to a renewable and democratic energy system. By making a commitment to a consistent daily practice of writing, I hope to stay focused on my big goal of producing an effective and helpful master’s thesis. And by sharing this plan, I'm making a public commitment to keep writing. Please hold me to it.

Here’s to a great year of learning, writing, and organizing for Energy Democracy in the US!

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