SEAREI was formed in 2009 by members of the Piscataqua Sustainability Initiative (PSI) in partnership with Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) as a New Hampshire based, collaborative grassroots organization working to build sustainable communities. SEAREI brings individuals, businesses, service providers and policy makers together to address the inter-related issues of environmental sustainability; especially as it relates to renewable energy. This macro-level approach, combined with a belief that we are all environmental stakeholders, means our goal is to ultimately reach every member of a community. Project-based work typically occurs within the Greater Seacoast Region of New Hampshire and Maine; however, we collaborate with other organizations and initiatives locally, nationally and globally. Our guiding vision is a livable planet with sustainable energy for all. This vision drives our mission to grow sustainable communities in our seacoast region through catalytic partnership, inspirational education and practical action. SEAREI believes that through empowerment, education, and encouragement, it can raise awareness and respond to regional and global challenges. It values just and responsible actions to achieve sustainability, with the understanding that we are all in this together.
SEAREI has developed or collaborated with other organizations to deliver educational programs, skill-builder workshops and general community organizing and advocacy around its mission. The following highlights some of those accomplishments since its incorporation:
- 2018 Rican Structing Project: Fundraising to provide shelter, clean water and power to aid people still struggling in Puerto Rico.
- 2017 “Energize 360” campaign in 15 NH Seacoast Communities promoting clean energy systems, weatherization & efficiency. Participants spent over 3.2 million resulting in 251 projects that will cut over 507 tons of carbon pollution.
- 2017 Port City Makerspace solar hot air panel array to reduce its heating costs/consumption.
- 2016 “Solarize Seacoast Maine” campaign in the K.E.Y.S. Region which installed 250 kilowatts of solar energy offsetting 220 tons of carbon pollution
- Partner with Seacoast Sustainability Alliance to hold a series of environmental themed “Handprint Parties.” (ongoing)
- Completed 24 “Energy Shares” (on-going)
- Completed 14 “Energy Raisers” (hands-on installation projects) (ongoing)
- Conduct “Skill Share/Builder” programs around efficiency and renewable energy
- Partnered with NH Habitat for Humanity to conduct weatherization projects
The need for organizations like SEAREI can best be understood by considering the following: Our over-reliance on fossil fuels is having a significant impact on the health of our planet and heating and electricity costs. The first environmental activists in the early 70’s signed petitions, lobbied their representatives, and voted. Their efforts worked and resulted in the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Over four decades later the impact of climate change is visible throughout the planet while here at home the Federal Government and many states are working to eliminate or weaken the very laws, institutions and treaties/accords designed to protect our environment. Combined with our failure to take aggressive action to reverse the impact of climate change we are now facing a global crisis of unprecedented magnitude. As most in the scientific world are resolute in their concern for and call to action on climate change, polluters are still looking for a quick buck at the expense of the planet and everything that lives on it. Sadly, many politicians are willing to take corporate money in exchange for ignoring the threat of climate change and the creation of barriers to advance renewable/efficient technologies and clean energy sources. Worse, the debate has been reframed as an “either – or” choice between a healthy planet or a robust economy. There are abundant clean and renewable energy options, but if we are to maximize their use we must first help people to make a paradigm shift. If a few people adopt solar there will be little systemic change, the technology will stagnate, and the cost of such technology will remain high. However, if you educate people, affect positive policy change and support businesses trying to advance such technologies you reach a tipping point and therein lies the change/shift. Our economy was created by those who saw a need and provided a solution. We can have a robust economy AND a healthy planet for generations to come; the question is, do we have the will to change?