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This week, we had the chance to connect with Robert Blake, a leader in promoting an equitable energy transition through education, workforce training and demonstration. As a tribal citizen of the Red Lake Nation located in northern Minnesota, Robert is focused on strengthening our relationship to the land while leveraging his indigenous perspective.

Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:

I’m the Executive Director of Native Sun Community Power Development, an environmental justice organization nonprofit. I am also the owner of Solar Bear, a solar installation company; both companies are located in Minneapolis MN.

The vision of Native Sun is to help Native nations and people install solar energy systems on Native lands, train and deploy a Native solar/renewable energy workforce, educate young people about climate change, the environment, and clean energy using native culture and language, and develop civic skills and capacity among Native people to provide leadership on a just energy transition and the path to energy sovereignty.

Solar Bear complements the initiatives of Native Sun by providing residential and commercial solar PV systems, installing EV charging stations and energy storage, and offering energy efficiency projects such as LED Lighting, windows and insulation. Solar Bear also offers consultation on rebates and other financial incentives for transitioning to clean energy.

What is a fun fact about you?

I am a very good Karaoke singer.

Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?

I feel like we are connected to this planet more than we think. We human beings know and feel the pain were causing our mother. That’s why we are experiencing or having all this turmoil amongst ourselves right now. We know that we have to get back in balance with our surroundings and with each other if we are gong to survive. It’s our inner survival instinct that is speaking to us right now and telling us that we can’t go on any longer like this. That’s why climate change and sustainability is so important today.

What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?

Our new way of life will be where everything is being recycled , reused , and lasts longer. There is solar everywhere on all are homes and buildings. Everyone is accepting environmental, social, and economic justice as a right. We will learn to live at peace with our four legged , marine , and winged brothers and sisters where we will treat them with respect as equals. Rights of nature will take over our world and rivers and lakes will have the same protections as humans.

What can the average person do to make a difference?

Start here, start now, and do what you can. Use your voice and vote for politicians that are climate champions. Buy and support those corporations that are environmentally conscious about the planet and their workers. You can make a difference. We are all in this together.