The Detroit Shoreway Solar Investment Cooperative, or DSSIC, pronounced ‘d-sick,’ came together over coffee at the Gypsy Beans Cafe. Lots of coffee. We gathered around the idea of pooling our money to invest in solar arrays on buildings in the neighborhood we love. We closed our eyes and imagined the Cleveland Public Theater, The Capitol Theater, the LGBT Center and other institutions near Detroit Ave and West 65th covered with graceful black panels that we and our neighbors funded and owned. We imagined the power of that vision of democratic, clean energy in our neighborhood. We sensed the power we’d find through taking collective action towards addressing the global climate crisis.
That was in the summer of 2019. In early 2020 we joined forces with a group with a similar vision in Lakewood. One common denominator was Jonathan, who was working with both groups through his role with Cleveland Owns, an incubator for cooperative businesses. Together, in May 2020 our groups formed the Cleveland Solar Cooperative (CSC). We elected Julia as our representative on the board of CSC. (She lives in Ohio City, but she’s cool.) CSC is a co-op of co-ops, and as an Ohio cooperative corporation, is the single legal entity through which DSSIC and Lakewood and other projects groups operate.
One of the goals we’ve long discussed, and an essential part of living up to CSC’s objective to promote a Just Transition, is building a group that’s representative of the true diversity of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in Detroit Shoreway. At the time we launched our first membership campaign in the fall of 2020, DSSIC’s six or so core members realized we were falling short of that goal: everyone in the group had college degrees, and most identify as white men. Lakewood had a similar composition. As we launched our first membership campaign in the fall of 2020, dreaming of growing to the 50 or 100 members we knew we’d need to finance our first rooftop array, we focused on building relationships with local groups receptive to a message of environmental justice, including groups made up of and led by people of color. We also set a goal of identifying other specific steps that will help DSSIC become a force for anti-racism.
Let’s build this together! Please get in touch to learn more about our group, how we work together, and how we’re building a more democratic, clean energy economy.