Daniel Perrin has been interning with North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light this summer. He describes below what led him to this work and how he got connected to NCIPL.
I’m Daniel Perrin, and I am now, at last, a summer intern with North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light. From the time that I first started learning about this world, I cared about many things, but climate change always seemed to be the all-encompassing issue to me. As I introduce myself to this community, I want to talk a little bit about myself and how I became involved with NCIPL.
To do that, let me start out with the basics. I am now a rising 9th grader and will be attending Carrboro High School in the fall. Three amazing years at Smith Middle School helped forge my interest in the environment and made it stand out among a crowded field of other issues pressing our world. I currently live in Chapel Hill with my family and my relationship with them has only furthered my interest in the environment. After all, environmental justice is one of the few issues that affect everyone, though no doubt some more than others. There is nothing to do but solve it! That is the only way to get past this and share the same world with every future generation.
In 2017, I was in 7th grade, the usual year for going through the Bar or Bat Mitzvah process for young people of Jewish faith. At my synagogue, Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, the tradition is for every person becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah to complete a social justice or Mitzvah project in accordance with your studies. The portion of the Torah that I chanted was B’reishit, the very first section. To give you a sense, B’reishit translates literally to “in the Beginning” and makes a very clear connection to the environment. This portion of the Torah talks about the earth being created and then passed on to Adam and Eve to care for it. To go along with this theme I tried to create an ambitious project centered around bridging religion and environmental action. Enter NCIPL.
The first part of my social justice project was to spearhead and help conduct an energy savings analysis of our synagogue and campus. We worked to coordinate it, and soon thereafter a volunteer auditor from NCIPL — little did I know in a short amount of time, I would be a volunteer with NCIPL — came to our synagogue. That day, we walked around the campus for more than an hour and were led by the auditor, a retired electrical engineer, who taught us ways to reduce our carbon footprint with low or no-cost solutions. What resulted? 11 pages of real, tangible solutions to help our synagogue and help our world.
This project experience introduced me to NCIPL and they stayed on my mind as we coordinated the next part of the project: installing a solar panel at the synagogue to power the Ner Tamid or Eternal Light. The Eternal Light is a symbol of God’s presence that illuminates the sanctuary. On February 19, 2019, a 50-watt photovoltaic solar panel was installed outside the synagogue as well as an AGM battery. The battery stores and supplies energy to the Eternal Light even during the night and several cloudy days in a row. I see powering the Eternal Light with solar energy as a great symbolic act for our community. It represents God’s presence as an eternal source of light. We finally finished that part of the project in February of this year. It was a long process that involved jumping through many hoops, but I learned a lot from the project. Overall, the work that I helped accomplish at my synagogue really struck me as momentous and important because the symbolism can be applied anywhere. I thought at the time, and I think even more now, that NCIPL’s work takes a unique angle to a crucial issue. In some ways, it’s a better angle, because it resonates with people now and emphasizes the personal affect climate change is having on people.
And now, here I am, writing this blog post as an intern with NCIPL, and I am looking forward to continuing this great work.