Welcome to our June installment of our Staff Spotlight feature, where we share a brief interview to introduce you to some of our amazing staff members here at GRID Bay Area! This month, we are introducing you to our Development & Programs Manager, Mara Ervin! Mara is one of the people behind our monthly newsletter and blog, but we convinced her to come out from behind the curtain for this glimpse into the making of GRID's values and Mara's journey West to California. Read on to learn about why, after 6 and a half years, Mara is still passionate about GRID!
How did you come to GRID?
I had taken a total leap of faith and moved to the West Coast when I was offered a short-term internship at a San Francisco community based nonprofit. I had been working with an old and established East Coast nonprofit without a lot of flexibility or innovation. I was worried that this was what it meant to work at a nonprofit. The idea that this wasn’t how all nonprofits operate and that there might be some place more innovative and creative was very exciting to me. After my internship, my boss told me to look into GRID Alternatives. I’d always thought that I was an environmentalist in my personal life and a social justice advocate in my professional life. It wasn’t that the two were separate, but I never thought that they could be so interlinked. When I read GRID’s mission, it felt like coming home. Three weeks later, I was GRID Bay Area's first Development Assistant. It was perfect timing for the position I was looking for and for GRID and I couldn't have been happier. Six and a half years later, I still feel the same way!
What GRID value most resonates with you?
This is a hard one! I was at GRID before we had written out our values and even got to be a part of the process, as did all GRID staff at the time, of identifying our values. Every time someone brought up a new point or suggestion, I'd think, "Yes! That’s why I love GRID!” It turns out that I still can't pick just one value - it's what they do together that makes GRID all it is.
Favorite GRID moment?
As silly as it is, I have to start by saying that there are so many that it’s hard to pick.
A real highlight of this year, though, was our recent Solarthon event. We were in the community center of Atchison Village in Richmond, a historic community that operates under a mutual ownership agreement with 450+ members, 19 of whom we got to install as a part of the event. At the end of the day, we closed out with a celebratory happy hour. I looked around the room and I saw the depth of GRID's community in action. In one corner was a corporate volunteer who had won a raffle and gave up his raffle ticket to a client because she saw something she wanted on the prize table. In another was a recent graduate of a job training program talking to the largest sponsor of the event about how important GRID's work and how glad they both felt to be a part of it. All around the room, members of the community were enjoying and celebrating with us including one that stopped and told me, "This is the best thing that ever happened at Atchison Village." What I love about GRID is that it really lets everyone be involved and inspired, we truly get to do it together.