Every Lead Counts: A Reflection on the Success of the SouthCoast Energy Challenge

On the 4th of July, I tabled for the Southcoast Energy Challenge at the Charles Morgan Event in New Bedford. In light of what was forecasted as an impending hurricane, many New Bedford residents had opted to stay indoors, and in any case, the event was pretty empty. For the first few hours I stood with my clipboard, bored with inactivity and grumpy because I wasn’t getting any signups. But then I realized something. Whenever we attend another event, we always end up with at least one more signup, which translates into one more person taking energy saving actions. All we have to do to get someone else on board with environmental initiatives is go to another event. Without overwhelming interest it wasn’t always obvious, but in the world of non-profits, we’re successful.

So what makes our program so effective? As anyone who has worked in an environmental-related field can attest, it’s difficult to get people to care about the inherent value of the natural world. People are moved by nothing more than they are by self-interest and short-term consequence. The crucial point to remember is that everything we do to the environment eventually comes back around to us. Through provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services we are either directly or indirectly connected to every ecosystem on Earth. When we translate environmental issues into terms of human benefit, especially when those terms are specific, getting people to care is a whole lot easier. This is what we do as purveyors and advocates of the Southcoast Energy Challenge, and it is what makes the program so great.

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