Energy Navigators Program

Jonna Johnson is working with Community Solutions and our partners such as AmeriCorps VISTA, Home Inc., and Opportunities for Individual Change to establish the Energy Navigators program, a coordinated energy literacy campaign in Yellow Springs, Springfield and Dayton.

What brought you to Community Solutions?

Raised by one parent with an eagle eye for injustice and one parent with a matter-of-factly generous heart, I have been on a journey of mixing caring and justice in all my endeavors.  This journey has included work in community-based nonprofits, social justice organizations, national parks, higher education, residential outdoor education, among others.  Through these varied and adventuresome experiences, one lesson I’ve learned is that the power of community can be not only the antidote to many global concerns (inequities, environmental degradation, consumer culture, etc.), but can be the foundation for holistically meaningful, healthy way of conducting life on this planet we share.  This is not a new concept or practice, we simply need to re-remember, and make the changes.  Community Solutions has similar beliefs, and I’m excited to join in their journey.

What is the Energy Navigators program? What excites you about it?

As is often the case, there are single actions that we can take that will address more than one concern.  For example, unplugging appliances that are not being used reduces both our ecological impact and our financial burdens – or moreover, using appropriate technology instead of ‘convenient’ appliances, reduces these burdens even further.  The Energy Navigators program is a grant funded project intended to do just that – identify and facilitate changes which will help address both poverty and our environmental impacts.  We are partnering with regional organizations and students to create educational materials, including workshops, to share what we learn.  Community members are full of experience and wisdom, and we will tap into this experiential wisdom to help spread the joy, love and savings!

I am excited to connect with and engage ever more community members as well as faith-based groups, schools, and other community networks, and in particular, support people and institutions in becoming, or growing, as change agents.  I truly believe in the power of connection and empowerment!  

What is the current status of the project? Where are you now and what are the next steps?

There are a lot of great programs in progress and in the works!  Here are a few:

In partnership with the Springfield Promise Neighborhood organization, I am facilitating Hayward Middle School’s “garden club” after school program. When the garden becomes less active for the winter months, the program will take on an energy focus.  Student empowerment is central for this program--the club uses democratic structure and decision-making, and students will be pursuing energy research projects based on their own questions and interests.  The long-term goal for the winter energy focus is for the students to learn to do energy audits and audit the school itself, then disseminate the information and skills they learn throughout their community.  

Through Opportunities for Individual Change in Springfield, I am coordinating with the math teacher at the Learning Opportunities Center to design a utilities and energy literacy curriculum, to be piloted this December.

I am also working with the Yellow Springs School District. Through Yellow Springs’ Project Based Learning program, sixth grade science students will be learning about the science behind energy, strategies for energy efficiency and reduction, and the relationships between poverty, energy accessibility and use.  At the end of the year the students will lead community workshops.

In addition, I am mentoring tenth grade Yellow Springs students studying a solar battery to be used by masses and identifying ways to make this technology accessible for lower-income communities, and a twelfth grade senior project on concentrated solar panels that use mirrors to magnify the sun.

I am also working on building a partnership with Central State University (Dayton) and the Miami Valley Upward Bound programs.  My goal (and Community Solutions’ goal) is for our partnerships to be relevant to the communities in which we’re working.  The west side of Dayton is experiencing myriad stressors resulting from institutionalized oppression.  Youth and community empowerment helps to shape individual and collective agency and continually build resources to face and surmount oppression (including the related outgrowths such as poverty and environmental degradation), as well as feel supported toward leading high quality lives.  

How can people get involved?

E-mail me at jonnajohnson@communitysolution.org, or call Community Solutions at 937.767.2161.