A Free Spirit in the Free Market
One staffer on her personal motivations behind the work we do at RMI.
To my family and friends, I’m known as a bit of a free spirit.
As a child I gathered fallen acorns and climbed trees to put them in holes in the tree trunks so the squirrels would have something to eat during the winter—only to fall out of that tree and hurt myself. I tried to fish a rogue plastic shopping bag out of Lake Travis in Austin—only to accidentally drop my sister’s boyfriend’s keys in the murky water. (I’m also known as a bit of a klutz in my family, too.) I eat quinoa, do hot yoga, and drink kombucha daily. I yearn for social equality and peace for all people, and I strongly believe that we need to alter the way we power our world to save it from wars, poverty, famine, and climate catastrophe.
So I can understand why I’ve earned my reputation with my loved ones.
And although I love the beauty of the natural world, my real passion is for people. So I prefer to call myself a humanist, because it is humanity for which I’m concerned.
Our species is remarkable in that we have the ability for higher-level reasoning, unbelievable imagination, and the rare talent to forge our thoughts and dreams into reality through hard work. For all our faults, humanity is like nothing else we’ve seen in our universe.
But we often lose sight of the big picture. By the big picture I mean how all of us live in the same massive biosphere with the exact right conditions to nurture an incredibly diverse array of life—Earth—hurtling through space at about 67,000 mph around a middle-age star in a galaxy in one small corner of the universe.
When I contemplate that picture, I can’t help but feel a sense of profound awe, humility, and perhaps most importantly, duty.
Humanity’s fate is tied to that of our planet. If we do not care for this earth of ours, we are surely dooming human existence to either a shadow of what it could be or worse, extinguishing it totally.
The human experience is the rarest of gifts. And even though there are great injustices and wrongs in our world, there is also incredible kindness, beauty, and grace.
I want humanity to go on for as long as it possibly can. I want future generations (including my own children, grandchildren, and great-great-great grandchildren) to know the joy of climbing a mountain, swimming in the ocean, the excitement of going to a new city in a far-off land, laughing so hard with a friend that you start crying, the thrill of falling in love for the first time, and the sublime joy of holding your child in your arms.
It is our duty as a species to safeguard the environment, the peace, and the economic prosperity of this planet so humans as far as we can see into the future can enjoy their lives. And that’s why I consider myself a humanist.
But we may put my dreams—and our collective future—at risk the longer we delay making serious changes to how we produce and consume energy. Our current paradigm is creating a horrible confluence of instability in our climate, international relations, and economies.
Sometimes it’s enough to make even an optimist like me feel gloomy.
But the truth is I’m also very much a pragmatist. I love technology, innovation, and medical, industrial, and military advances. I trust in the power of the free market, and I am proud of what we as a species have achieved so far.
So I don’t let myself get gloomy for too long, because I’ve found a way to take positive action—working at Rocky Mountain Institute.
I feel incredibly fortunate and proud to work here. The organization’s vision—a world thriving, verdant, and secure, for all, forever—just so happens to match up with my dreams for the future. And by unlocking economic value for businesses and other critical players, we are harnessing the amazing power of capitalism to realign an energy system that has become imbalanced. We are driving a transformation—and forging the solutions that get us there—that benefits profit, planet, and people.
It’s not easy work. Often times it is slow and takes many years to come to fruition. But for the last 30 years, RMI has been ahead of the curve in its thinking and recommendations about how to transform our energy system from one reliant on once-cheap, polluting, conflict-causing fossil fuels to one that thrives on efficiency and renewables.
I’m so proud to tell people where I work. I’m likewise deeply humbled by all the support we get from many people around the world—financially and otherwise. As an RMI donor myself, I know this organization, its leadership, its people, and supporters can drive positive change in the world. And I look forward to being a part, even if it is a small part, of helping to preserve the human experience for millennia to come!
Images of Puerto Madryn, Argentina, Perito Moreno, Argentina, and family photo courtesy of Jamie Moir.