Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Alliance for Affordable Energy

What happened this month?

Overall my first month went well working with the Alliance For Affordable Energy. I’m still working on learning my responsibilities and I have a ways to go before I’ll feel as if I have a handle on it all, but it’s coming along pretty well. I felt more behind on my responsibilities to AmeriCorps/Vista program then I did of my site, but I feel I’m pretty much caught up now. The only thing I can complain about this month is about not getting my paycheck yet, and that wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own because of not setting up direct deposit.

I had a few meeting with various organizations that the Alliance is involved with, but I was just there to introduce myself, but over the next few months I’ll get more involved with them. I had a interesting first tabling event at the Audubon zoo. I had only one volunteer to help me out for the tabling event and that was an intern that’s already working with the Alliance. I worked the whole weekend event, but my Executive Director, came by and helped get the word out for a few hours on
Sunday, but overall it’s going well. We got a bunch of signed postcards to send to Commissioner Holloway in support of solar tax-credits and net metering policies and it was my first tabling event. I also got to walk around the zoo.

I am in the process of setting up a new volunteer,who needs to complete his 20hrs public service requirement. He will be my first volunteer I’m setting up,  and I have a summer intern coming in this week for an interview.

Provide a good story from your service or service site?

At the Earth Fest tabling event at the Audubon Zoo in March I had to supply a question for the kids on energy efficiency. I picked a question that I thought was relatively easy, but I found out it wasn’t as  easy for the kids as I thought. The kids ranged in ages from 8-15. if they answered the question right I would stamp their stamp sheet and they could hand it in for prizes. My stamp was a Triceratops dinosaur stamp. Here’s the question.

*Should you paint your roof black or white to save energy? Answer: White

Why white? White reflects heat and black absorbs heat.

I thought the question was pretty straight forward, but the answers told a different story. Half the kids answered black , but when they tried to explain why the answer was black they had more of a problem, but some did make a case. For example: if you’re living in a environment where its cold during the winter. Blacks an option to paint your roof if you’re trying absorb heat to keep your home warmer during the winter months. Maybe that’s why there are so many black tarred roofs in Chicago, Illinois. Of course, I was asking this energy efficiency question here in New Orleans, Louisiana, and it was a pretty hot and a  somewhat humid day. In the mid 80s.

What I didn’t understand was why so many chose black as the answer. Many of these kids most likely lived in homes that use air conditioners to cool their house during most of the year. So, as I continued to ask the question over the next two days I had to add more details to the question. Ex: If you live in a hot or humid environment what color would you paint the outside of your roof to save energy? That helped, but it still stumped some. I started to give examples of wearing a white t-shirt versus wearing a black t-shirt outside on a hot day, and added the example of using air conditioners to the question. More and more kids did get it right the more details and examples I gave, which was good.

There are some very smart kids in Louisiana, and these kids not only answered the question right the first time, but could answer the why part of the question with a better vocabulary then I believe I had at their age.

I still think its a good question because it made the kids think, and by helping them answer the question for the stamp/toy I felt it was OK, because it was really about giving out information and exposing kids to think about energy efficiency, which they ended up doing.

Are you making progress towards achieving your goals/objectives?

It’s my first month, but I’m starting to bear some fruit, but it’s only the first month, so I don’t have much to say other than I’m working out them.

How is your service helping you become a better citizen?

I’m not sure I’m becoming a better citizen, but I am gaining skills that may help me and the community down the road.

What are you learning from your service?

I’m learning that I have a lot to learn, but that I do have some skills that this organization needs. The business mindset seems limited on how many different ways there is to raise funds for this non-profit organization. I’m hoping to find as many ways as possible to continue to generate funding long after I’m gone.

What did you do this month that made you proud? Why?

I was able to confirm two 250.00 sponsorships for the next two Solar roundtable monthly meetings. It’s been a few months since they had a sponsor for these meeting and I got two in one day with my Invite emailing. It made my day and made me feel proud that I actually generated 500 dolars for this non-profit organization on my first month here.

-Jon Scott, Tulane CPS AmeriCorps VISA, Alliance for Affordable Energy

About Tulane VISTA

Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.


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