Hey again! It’s Riley (If you don’t know who I am, check out my other blog posts towards the bottom of this page)! As I write this, I am sitting in the car with the door open and the breeze blowing through, listening to the sounds of cranking wrenches and steady drills on the roof of Mr.Conquering Bear’s and his family’s home. So far (its only 12:39 as a write this), it has been an awe-inspiring, productive work-day, which sounds far-fetched, but is honestly the truth! Let me back up though, I am getting ahead of myself. Yesterday, after our cultural meeting with Mr.Doyle, we drove down, following Mr. Boyce’s incredibly green and hippie-screaming Westfalia van, to the property where we were to spend the next three days installing solar panels. Honestly, I was clueless. Not just about the difference between AC disconnect and junction boxes, or where and how to saw conduit, but also what the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation was like and how the community works together to find solutions to energy issues.
But, in both these fields, I was learning, and fast. I was not expecting to do much work on the first day, as we didn’t start until 11:30ish after our cultural training. However, I figured out that we would be doing a lot. There was work to do just on the ground, not even related to the solar modules on the roof. I volunteered to drill holes, screw bolts, place conduit, and even go underneath the house in the crawl space to ensure that all of the wiring that we would eventually complete would have a secure place to go without the risk damage to the wires through water runoff or friction from other things near it. At the beginning of the day, I was afraid to ask questions of the trained professionals I was working with through GRID Alternatives. I figured they had a lot on their plates, worrying about where and when to place the solar panels as well as all of the other components to make the system work. But, I eventually understood that these trained professionals wanted to teach us about what they were doing, and wanted us to be as hands on as possible. It was incredible to be able to ask all the questions I wanted and after a while, I was able to really understand what we were doing throughout the day, and what the end result was bound to look like. When the sun had just begun to sink over the rolling hills in the distance of the Reservation, the only clear work that I had completed was a metal pole on the side of the house, with a box sticking out the end of it. To some, it might have been just that: a box on a pole, but to me, it signified the beginning of an amazing solar install to help an amazing veteran and his family live in their home with reliable, sustainable, and affordable electricity. For me, Day One on the ground was a job well done.