What was the defining moment that you led to this innovation?
The defining moment that led to the development of Sustain-A-Raisers happened during the autumn of 2008 when I helped a neighbor install a solar hot water heater. There were approximately five of us present – one person to unwrap the panels, a couple people to carry the panels to the ladder, a couple more on the roof securing and connecting the panels. The efficiency and simplicity was astounding! Not only was this project nearly impossible to accomplish with one person, but attempting such a feat would also lose the added educational and community building value that came from engaging more people in the project. It occurred to me, with panel in hand, that this model could be applied more widely to help make sustainable living more affordable and fun.
The idea began to evolve after hearing this project referred to as an “energy raiser,” named after the Barn Raising phenomenon of the late 1800s and early 20th century. It dawned on me that applying this already popular and familiar model to wider degree of service projects would help discredit the excuses I frequently heard that suggested sustainable living was either too expensive or too much work.
It was around this same time that I began learning about another challenge and problem – the alarming exodus of young adults from NH in search of better jobs and more affordable living. It occurred to me that I could design this program to help break the impasses of sustainable living described above, while also creating a platform for youth to develop entrepreneurial skills that prepare them for the workforce and encourage them to make a deeper commitment to their communities. I knew the program had to be exciting and fun. Sustain-A-Raisers had a “teamwork” ring to it that sounded appropriate, while also giving a nod to Barn Raising, which conjures a positive community building memory for the majority of residents in New England.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
Josh Arnold is the social innovator behind the Sustain-A-Raisers project. He is also Founding Director of Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.), the 501(c)3 nonprofit that manages Sustain-A-Raisers as one of its four programs including a Localvore Initiative, Homsteading & Cottage Industry Connection, and GALAvanting.
Josh Arnold is a uniquely determined, entrepreneurial young man with a steadfast passion for sustainability. By the time he was a sophomore at Wheaton College in Norton, M.A. Josh had designed an independent major in "Global Sustainability." During his senior year, he was granted the Emily Susan Hartwell Leadership Award for "Motivating Others in Areas of Social, Political, or Global Responsibility." Josh concluded his college experience by spearheading the Graduation Pledge - a project that committed almost half of his class to furthering the environmental and social integrity of professional career the signatories pursue.
Between 2004-2008, Josh served as a delegation leader at conferences of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 15-17). During this time Josh also served as Festival Manager for Clean Vibes, a company that provided environmental education and recycling services at music festivals around the United States. After graduating college and ending his career with Clean Vibes, Josh returned to his hometown of Wolfeboro, N.H. where in addition to founding G.A.L.A., he was nominated and began serving on the Town Energy Committee and Agricultural Commission. Josh also began managing the Wolfeboro Area Farmers’ Market.
Last spring Josh was recruited into the Global Youth Action Net Fellowship Class of 2009 where he joined twenty other young entrepreneurs from around the world who have founded organizations that are leading societal change. Josh is currently in the second half of that year-long fellowship experience.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company