Thursday, May 05, 2011

Remembering Damu Smith

We Miss You Damu

Damu Smith died five years ago today (May 5, 2006).  Many of the younger crop of new African American environmentalists never met Damu.  Yet Smith lives on in the minds of those who knew him.  Damu brought his own unique presence to the environmental and environmental justice movements.  Damu aggressively addressed environmental racism as leader of the National Black Environmental Justice Network.

He took the name Damu, which means "blood, leadership and strength" in the Swahili language of Kenya.

Damu Smith was an activist.  Damu was a radio talk show host.  He was a father.  Smith's daughter, Asha Moore Smith is 18 now.

Washington Post reporter Darryl Fears covered Damu's last days.  Africa Roots Library provides and excellent compilation of Damu's life.  Damu's Middle East and anti war activism is described in Washington ReportDemocracy Now covered one of Smith's anti war speeches on behalf of Black Voices for Peace, one of the organizations he founded.  Democracy Now also covered Damu's fight with colon cancer. gives a great comprehensive description of Damu.  And of course, Google now provides Images of Damu Smith & Videos of Damu Smith. The Los Angeles Times and numerous other news oulets reported on Damu's death.

Damu received the sort  of coverage in death that he never receieved in life. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Black Church Installs Solar Panels

Florida Avenue Baptist Church
Florida Avenue Baptist Church has installed 44 solar panels on its roof.  Reverend Earl D. Trent Jr is the church’s pastor.  The panels cost $60,000 and the church is expected to save 15 percent, about $450, on its $3,000 monthly bill, according to Volt Energy, which installed the panels.  Twelve members of the church were willing to invest money in exchange for Solar Renewable Energy Certificates.  Florida Avenue Baptist church has 500 members.  The certificates are a kind of energy credit that companies such as power plants buy to sidestep government regulations and penalties for producing too much pollution.

Rev Earl Trent
The idea to go solar came to Trent through Gilbert Campbell III, a co-owner of Volt Energy, a North Carolina clean-energy company with an office in Washington. Campbell, a Howard University graduate who met Reverend Trent years earlier through his father. Volt Energy , a full service renewable energy and energy efficiency company that develops, builds, operates and manages state-of-the-art energy projects for governments, businesses, school systems, non-profits, and utility companies, is headquartered in Winston Salem, NC with offices in the District. Founded by two graduates of Howard University, they were featured in the December 2010 issue of Black Enterprise.

Volt Energy helped Florida Avenue Baptist set up a business, allowing it to make the investment and receive the certificates. The investors recouped $18,000 within 60 days from a federal tax credit that for-profit entities receive for making investments in renewable technology. Le Droit Park Energy, LLC is a private member limited liability company formed by member investors of the Florida Ave Baptist Church and will own and operate the solar system.

Volt Energy also customized a curriculum for the church, teaching energy efficiency, recycling, and the how-tos of using energy-efficient light bulbs and reading energy bills to children. (Wash Post, 5/3/2011, Florida Avenue Baptist Church Facebook-Photos courtesy Wash Post & Florida Avenue Baptist Church)