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Rising Stars: Renewable Energy Puts the Wind in Her Sails

By Erdin Beshimov

Soozie's words of advice reflect the values she holds most dearly: "live simply, compassionately and passionately, and cherish your relationships with others." Her inspiration for her work stems from her commitment to social and environmental justice, and her belief that change is possible.

Name: Soozie Lindbloom
School: Evergreen State College
Major: Liberal Art
Years Out of College: 5-10
Title: Program Coordinator
Company: Solar Energy International

First Steps

Soozie describes her first job as "great": "I worked for the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School (now known as Outward Bound Wilderness). I was a mountaineering and sea kayaking instructor for many years."?It was more than just a first job. Working at Outward Bound helped identify some of the values that Soozie wants to accompany her entire career. "I realized that my next job would have to give me the same satisfaction in regards to making a difference on this planet in social and environmental justice. I also realized the value of craftsmanship and open, honest communication in the workplace." Now she is working for an organization that welcomes and helps her promote her values. As a Coordinator of the Solar In the Schools Program at Solar Energy International (SEI), she promotes renewable energy education in K-12 schools and teaches organizations to design and install renewable energy technologies.

From Then to Now

"Honestly, I think that I am here at SEI due to a combination of luck, an internship, and my years of work with Outward Bound. My liberal arts (BA) degree allowed me to explore many of my interests, while enforcing the notion that education is directly related to what you put into it. When I found SEI by chance, I immediately signed on as an intern, took 8 weeks of intensive, hands-on renewable energy workshops, and eventually was hired on to coordinate SEI's youth education program. My internship allowed us to both get a feel for each other and how we liked working together. They liked my experiential educational past as an instructor with Outward Bound, and I liked all of the amazing work that Solar Energy International does."

Challenges Faced

"If I had a beer for every time someone asked me when I was going to get a 'real' job, my liver might be seriously compromised right now.?Experiential Education is not a field that parents gush over, nor is it one that pays all that well. It's seasonal and often undervalued as a valid means of employment. My employment with Outward Bound, however, allowed me the flexibility to explore many of my other passions, share amazing wilderness experiences with great people, and it inadvertently led me to where I am now, at Solar Energy International."

My Experience

Soozie's job lets her wear many hats. "I coordinate our youth education program, Solar In the Schools, and I am the main instructor for that. I install renewable energy systems and have the creative freedom to design curriculum and hands-on kits for teachers. I write and research grants. I coordinate our biodiesel program and am slowly working my way to becoming a PV (Photovoltaics or Solar Electric) Instructor as well."

The ultimate goal of her job comes with an ironic twist. Says Soozie, "the main focus of my work here at SEI is to essentially work my way out of a job. If I can help get Renewable Energy Education (this includes energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies, and passive solar strategies) in the schools as an annual curriculum component, then that means the teachers have been trained to teach youth how to make a difference regarding energy issues, and the administrators have agreed that this type of education is, in fact, crucial. This is my goal."

Next Steps

In her next job Soozie is looking for the same sort of flexibility that she has been granted so far. "Because of all of my time spent working for social and environmental justice (both through SEI and local volunteer positions I hold), I often feel that my creative side is being neglected - and any revolution without art is suspect in my book. I guess that I would like to combine my commitment to making this planet a better place with art. I also would love to open an organic beer brewery, but that's another story...."

Did I Ever Think I'd End Up Here?

"Of course not! Nobody in Liberal Arts knows where they'll end up! What I did imagine was that if I worked hard at what I did, and really focused on my gifts, I would be able to do anything I wanted. Luckily my path has led me to Solar Energy International, where I can combine my love of hands-on work with my love of teaching."

Advice for Others

Advice I've heard:?"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream."

Advice I'd give:?"Live simply! You don't need to suffocate yourself in car loans and debt and material possessions just to keep up with the Jones's - all of that becomes a form of slavery and often keeps people from living their dreams! Not only that, but our sustainability on this planet depends upon us simplifying our lives. Cherish and invest in your relationships with others. Live compassionately and passionately. And as Kurt Vonneget says, 'Wear sunscreen.'"

What I'd do differently:?"Nothing; all of my life experiences have made me who I am today. OK, maybe I would have called my mom more."

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