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Published on September 28th, 2012 | by Cynthia Shahan


Communities Do Change the World

September 28th, 2012 by  

“So, you end up respecting everybody.” This is what came of Mr. Rich Vanderveen’s ability to get Gratiot’s residents to trust his company, Wind Resource LLC, work which required a slow (yet simple) process: talking to lots of people.

This is the largest wind facility in Michigan. Perhaps Vanderveen’s focus on respect is one of the reasons he “is legendary among Midwestern wind power developers.” Certainly, this manifestation was due to genuine concern, which offered education with each conversation. “he has been a leader in bringing communities, citizens, manufacturers, and utilities into a ’21st century way to think about how we make and use energy.'”

And two months later: “Two months after Michigan’s largest wind farm kicked into high gear, local support remains strong for the 133-turbine, 212-megawatt Gratiot County Wind Project, which literally surrounds this small, mid-Michigan farming town.”

A Listening Tour Regarding Models Pioneered by Denmark

Respect may be the heart of this project. It is about the ability to carry through in community due to a certain respect for renewable energy sources and people, hand in hand. This is what good community is all about. Vanderveen’s approach compares well with the model pioneered by the world’s most successful wind powered nation, Denmark.

Denmark’s green manifestation in so many areas is enormous, and certainly in this area — it is as if it has conducted practical magic. Many are finding it a wonder worth assimilating, learning about, and imitating. Vanderveen studied the Danes and he was followed the best.

Regarding the fundamental dimension to Denmark’s energy transition: “How is it possible to whisk such an initiative through parliament, the courts and company boardrooms in a way that makes the population see its advantages rather than growing weary of it? How do you plant a major technological innovation in people’s minds, and how do you distribute it to the electrical outlets of an entire country?”

Francis Fukuyama, a Stanford professor, describes Denmark as “a mythical place” known for its outstanding political and economic institutions. “It is stable, democratic, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and has extremely low levels of political corruption. Taming the wind, the Danes influenced Vanderveen and he influences Michigan.”

Wind is not the whole answer. However, it is a viable and hugely important part of the solution. This work beckons: ‘please, no more big oil rigs, white turbines instead; no more suffering from oil wars, white turbines instead.’

Wind power is positive growth.

And listening, listening is key: “We did a listening tour, finding out what peoples’ values are,” Vanderveen said. “It’s important to remember that we are invited guests, and we can’t impose anything.”

How truly refreshing — this is good to news in a world of difficult issues. 
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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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