By Julia Hannafin
On Wednesday a gigantic clothesline dangled over Berkeley’s Civic Center Park. T-shirts, sweaters, jeans, and all kinds of clothing swayed in the wind as members of Rising Sun Energy Center‘s California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program proudly explained the work they’ve been doing to make Berkeley’s community more sustainable.
“Really what this is is a call to action,” said Jodi Pincus, executive director of the Berkeley-based Rising Sun Energy Center. “You may be asking, how does [climate change] relate to air drying my clothes? Clothes dryers are the second largest energy hog appliance in the home, and CO2 emissions from a single household can amount to nearly 23,000 pounds of CO2 per year. It is up to us to do something.”
The “Air Dry For the Environment” event on July 17 included short speeches from Pincus, RSEC’s Outreach Manager Christina Chan, Berkeley Vice Mayor Linda Maio, Councilman Laurie Capitelli, and two of CYES’s youth employees.
CYES aims to tackle two issues through its program: youth employment and resident efficiency. CYES hires and trains local youth ages 15 to 22 as Energy Specialists, providing jobs in the green economy to young people who really need them. CYES’s Energy Specialists offers Green House Calls to renters and homeowners, providing an efficiency assessment, installation of energy and water saving products and personalized recommendations to help residents save energy where they can.
If you have a yard, members of CYES will install a retractable clothesline as a sunny-day alternative to a tumble dryer.
The best part is, these house calls are free. Any PG&E customer in Berkeley, Antioch, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremond, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton, Richmond, Union City, and Marin County is eligible.
“I keep coming back because I’m excited to see the program grow,” said one youth employee who had been with CYES for three years. “But I want us to get further than the Bay Area, because the further we go, the smaller our carbon footprint will become.”
“Doing this job, we get to educate a variety of communities, people that come from all kinds of backgrounds,” added another youth employee. “We get to educate all of them about little changes they can make in their own homes to help the greater environment.”
“Somehow or another we have to make it, ‘You’re not with it if you’re not air drying your clothes!’” said Vice Mayor Linda Maio. “Let’s get with it, and let’s air dry.”
To sign up for a free Green House Call visit RSEC online.
Julia Hannafin is a summer intern at Berkeleyside and a student at Columbia University studying creative writing and American studies. She writes for the music blog The Metropolitan Jolt.
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