From Climate Activist to Seattle Solar Installer
Aji Piper Joins Sun Path
We are so excited to announce that 19-yo climate activist and innovator, Aji Piper, has joined the Sun Path Electric family as a Solar Apprentice. His climate advocacy began when he moved to Seattle just under a decade ago and became involved with a local arm of the international youth movement, Plant for the Planet and their Three point plan to reduce the impacts of climate change: Plant Trees, Leave Oil in the Ground and Fight for Social Justice. He, at 10 years old, was all in for planting trees and mobilizing other young people to green up our world. He learned much about speaking and organizing during this time, including that he could best express himself and process the emotions through song. Being a young organizer was great, but he understood that more needed to be done.
Soon thereafter he made history as one of eight Washington youths who successfully sued the state for failing to protect our climate and provide a “livable future” for younger generations”.
Aji’s legal advocacy began in 2015 when he and his new allies, calling themselves, Our Children’s Trust, petitioned the Washington Department of Ecology to guarantee a stable climate by updating their air quality standards to those that meet climate stabilization standards. This experience was both totally powerful and very disappointing. The students were amused and dismayed when they were told that Ecology was not legally required to “use science in their recommendation”. So, after some deliberating, they went ahead and sued the State of Washington and several agencies under the Public Trust Doctrine for not protecting future generations. Thanks to King County Justice, Hollis Hill, they won their historic case in 2016 with the Justice citing that “survival of younger generations depends upon the will of our elders...”.
Unfortunately, the resulting Department of Ecology ruling that was so weak, essentially nothing has changed…yet. One step forward and three steps back.
However, the group had momentum and their scope grew larger in 2015 when the children took their case to the Federal courts against the Executive Branch of the United States. This was possible because of documented knowledge that it’s members have been aware of the dangers and causes of climate change, but had failed to act meaningfully, for the last 5 decades. This effort represented a big shift for Aji, as it introduced him to a more intimate perspective of the problems of climate change. He was growing up and beginning to better understand the dangers posed to his own livelihood and home. He also began to see the endless string of speaking engagements and rallies as draining, especially if they were not going to result in the necessary level of 10% reduction of greenhouse gasses that he was trying to achieve. When the now famously dire IPCC Report came out in 2018, Aji hit a wall. Burnout was real and he was struggling to feel hopeful, especially as he better understood, at 17 years old, that he needed to prepare for his own future.
After a break and some research about the best way to proceed, his desire to find balance brought him to Sun Path.
Working as a solar installer is an opportunity to channel all his knowledge of and concern for the rising sea-levels and desertifying landscapes into tangible actions that earn him a solid wage while he helps people reduce their carbon footprint.
Additionally, he understands that putting more solar energy systems in place make this and other green power sources more socially and politically acceptable. He began to realize that this was a way to keep going – where his light could burn bright without burning out and where he, could create a future for the planet, but also himself.
Check out the TEDX link below to see Aji inspiring others to think and act. We are already feeling his energy here at Sun Path (and we hope he will occasionally grace us with a song)!
By Rebecca Sayre