Welcome to our July 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 SolarCorps Outreach Fellow, James Walker! James brings enthusiasm and passion to everything he works on, which is part of what made him stand out as a GRID intern before joining our staff. James's SolarCorps year of service combines his interests in foreign languages with his passions for addressing wealth inequality and climate change.
How did you come to GRID?
I was born and raised in Newport, Rhode Island, and graduated from Salve Regina University with a bachelor’s in French and Global Studies. Throughout college I worked behind the bar at a local upscale restaurant that one could describe as a watering hole for the global sailing elite. I interned for US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in Providence, who is known for his weekly senate floor “Time to Wake Up” speeches on climate change and spearheading development of the Block Island Wind Farm. I wasn’t quite sure immediately after college what I wanted to do with my degree, but I knew that I loved foreign languages and was passionate about crises of human development, more so wealth inequality and climate change. I then moved out west to Monterey where I picked up Spanish and graduated with a Master’s in International Policy and Development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. I then moved to Oakland and interned in GRID Bay Area’s outreach department before I become an outreach fellow.
What GRID value most resonates with you?
GRID does a lot of work with equity, inclusion, and diversity. This truly existential and self-reflective question resonates with me in not just our amazing solar training programs, but the homeowners whom we serve and install for. How can we be truly equitable, inclusive, and diverse with our services in a time where socio-economic inequality continues to grow? GRID has shown me that this means helping those who need it most unequivocally to the best of our ability. Disadvantaged communities are disproportionately affected by the issues we are fighting against, and consequently our impact is felt most in those communities.
Favorite GRID moment?
Believe it or not, yesterday may have been the most rewarding day of my fellowship. The first half of the day, I was at one of my client installs up in Vallejo. The homeowner is such a great guy and we’ve become good friends over the months. He’s a real handyman and was helping us on the install the whole day. Ordered us a lot of pizza! He even taught me a couple things with the band saw I didn’t know! The whole construction crew was just all smiles the whole day, even though the roof was crazy steep and high. It was also the last day of the IBT cohort, a great group of people as well that I’ve gotten to know over the weeks with GRID. I then drove across the Bay to Menlo Park where we had a workshop for the new EV program that we’re rolling out with Beneficial State Bank. There was a huge turnout that represented the fruits of our outreach team’s canvassing labor of the previous couple weeks. There’s nothing an outreach coordinator likes more than high turnout and passing out applications, so it was definitely a successful day for myself and Damian, as well as everyone else who helped. A city councilmember even spoke on our behalf!
The SolarCorps Fellowship Program is part of the AmeriCorps network of programs. SolarCorps is made possible with funding support from AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Bank of America. AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.