Cascadia Commons: A Sustainability Leader
Cascadia Commons is redefining the Benevolent Society to meet the needs and challenges of today. We are dedicated to advancing social, economic and environmental sustainability by motivating and empowering people to connect and engage in creating more sustainable ways of living. We believe one way to make that happen -- a way that has proven successful in the past, yet often overlooked today -- is through membership in a Benevolent Society. Among other things, the non-profit Benevolent Society model enables us to join forces and support our communities through the development of cooperatively owned businesses. Our first effort is to create the Earth Energy Cooperative -- a renewable energy company that provides reduced-cost access to solar power.
Cascadia Commons is not just another nonprofit organization asking for donations (though that can be worthy cause). This fundraising campaign comes with an exit strategy built in. By contributing toward launching the Earth Energy Cooperative, you are giving Cascadia Commons the opportunity to generate sustainable sources of revenue that will help us launch more social, economic and environmental programs in the future!
Our Work: Increasing the use of renewable energy with group power!
You're probably like many who want solar panels, but just cannot afford the upfront costs. Even though costs for solar energy are falling, the average installation on a home is $20,000.00! But, what if you could pay a low-cost monthly lease on a solar panel system? What if you could further reduce that monthly lease by purchasing solar panel systems with your neighbors, friends and family? The Earth Energy Cooperative makes it possible!
With your support, the Earth Energy Cooperative will be a Cascadia Commons member-owned company that will offer you the opportunity to use the power of group purchasing to reduce the costs of adopting solar energy. The concept is not new -- solar energy group “buy-down” projects are cropping up around the country. What makes us different is we are not requiring consumers to pay the up-front costs of buying equipment. Instead, we're offering consumers -- even those who never thought they could afford to install solar energy in their homes and businesses -- with both a solar leasing opportunity and the ability to use group purchasing power to collectively reduce the cost of monthly lease payments!
One of the great things about being a Benevolent Society is having the ability to tap into the strength of our membership to bring the knowledge, skills and first-hand experience to ensure that our projects are successful. We’ve covered a lot of ground quickly so far and we are gaining momentum. With renewable energy, financing and cooperative development experts on our team, we have already set things in motion to create the Earth Energy Cooperative.
Now we need your help to take us to the next level -- to help us launch the most successful, low-cost solar energy program in the country!
So if you are interested in taking this journey with us, here’s a quick look at where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Our journey as Cascadia Commons so far has included:
- Four years of development
- A diverse, multi-talented team of 15 individuals unified in our cause
- Establishment of a partnership with RC Cubed, a financing company for renewable and energy efficiency technologies and projects
- Recruitment of a strong team of advisers in business planning and PR Consultancy
- Establishment of a strong, unified vision and mission statement
- Laying the groundwork for a full-scale renewable energy cooperative in less than 12 months
- Assembly of a technology team for the development of open source group collaboration software to ensure the success of cooperative efforts
- All the necessary business elements to get a Benevolent Society off the ground, including bylaws, a white paper and new website (launch date of site is January 11, 2012)
Why we need your help
We’ve achieved a great deal in a short period of time. But to launch our first cooperative and ensure that it will be successful, we need additional start-up capital to help us:
- Bring on more team members who can contribute to the smooth launch and ongoing success of Cascadia Commons and the Earth Energy Cooperative
- Cascadia Commons' application for our 501c10 U.S. Federal non-profit status in the first quarter of 2012
- Develop marketing materials that will help us get the word out about our unique solar energy leasing opportunity
- Starting Earth Energy Cooperative's first solar panel group buy program on March 4, 2012
- Lay the groundwork so that the Earth Energy Cooperative becomes not only sustainable as a business but a generator of revenue to help fund the development of additional new programs.
We've set the goal for this phase of our campaign at $25,000. We’d love to go well beyond that because it will enable us to get our program out to more people.
But here’s a quick breakdown of how phase 1 money will be spent:
- Personnel (Project Coordinator) 40%
- Consultation (Public Relations, Legal & Organizational Consulting) 32%
- Marketing (Marketing Materials & Web Design) 28%
Zeroing in on the Target
The best part of all of this is the built-in exit strategy -- with the funding to get our first cooperative off the ground and running smoothly, the entire process becomes sustainable. The profits earned from the Earth Energy Cooperative will go into the development of other Cascadia Commons projects to address social, economic and environmental challenges in our communities. All materials and products we buy to launch the Earth Energy Cooperative will be purchased from local suppliers. That means not only is your donation helping start a new business, your contribution is supporting the local economy!
In this way, a little up-front investment goes a long way. You enable many more people to take advantage of low-cost solar energy opportunities, you help reduce reliance on the fossil-fueled power grid (and everything that entails), you promote the concept of cooperative businesses that are built around mutual benefits for all and you help us in our Cascadia Commons vision to foster thriving regional communities that are economically prosperous and living in harmony with the natural environment. That’s a lot of benefit from a little start-up capital!
Please donate now and spread the word!
Team on This Campaign:
Finance Director | Super Committee #2 Chair
Communications Product Designer
Super Committee #3 Chair
Energy Stability Director | Super Committee #1 Chair