This article has been updated to reflect information provided by Duke Energy.
Edited September 17.
On Sep. 10, the Beloved Community Center, located on Arlington Street in Greensboro, hosted the People’s Power Party. The Beloved Community Center has been a part of the Greensboro community since 1991.
According to the Beloved Community Center’s website, they are a “Community-based, grassroots empowerment oriented organization rooted in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of proactive struggles for racial and economic justice, democracy and beloved community.” Additionally, they, “Envision and work toward social and economic relations that affirm and realize the equality, dignity, worth and potential of every person.”
The People’s Power Party event on Saturday was brought to fruition as a result of the current conflict that the community center and NC Warn had experienced with Duke Energy in 2015. NC Warn is a nonprofit organization that is concerned with the current climate crisis. They make it their mission to find cleaner and more efficient means of power/energy.
Recently, NC Warn donated solar panels to the Beloved Community Center, allowing for a more cost efficient and greener method of providing power to their center. However, Duke Energy was against this donation, and was adamant that the solar panels be taken down in compliance with the regulations of the NC Utilities Commission, which do not allow for-profit private solar operations. An April 2015 ruling by the Utilities Commission held that because NC Warn collected profits from the solar panels at the Community Center, they were in violation of regulations and had to refund the Beloved Community Center all profits. The People’s Power Party hosted by the Beloved Community Center, gathered to create awareness for this issue as well as to educate the public on environmental matters.
While the main purpose of the People’s Power Party was to recognize the conflict with Duke Energy, the overall arching idea was that environmental action needs to be taken. Education and involvement were stressed at the event.
Different organizations had informational tables on display beneath tents, their people present in an effort to get their ideas and projects out to the public. Among the tents was Power Up NC, an organization that stressed different money and energy saving tips. They also gave out free tools that help homes in becoming more “green,” including switch and outlet sealers, designed to add insulation and save wasted energy.
Other environmental organizations at the event included the Alliance of Carolinians, Together Against Coal Ash, and The Appalachian Voice. Each organization was passionate about getting their message across, and welcomed questions and conversation about their involvement.
Among the tents of these organizations, was also a voter registration tent. It was stressed repeatedly at the event, that taking action and involving yourself in cases like the one the Beloved Community Center is currently facing, is crucial, and one of the easiest ways the public can make sure their voices are being heard, is by voting for those who support environmental and energy conservation.
In addition to the organizations providing invaluable knowledge and information, the event was also organized in order to create connections among members of the community. They encouraged everyone to introduce themselves and share their opinions with other attendees.
Food and music created a friendly atmosphere in which people felt comfortable discussing their involvements in their respective organizations, and learning about those around them. Two of the main environmental issues that were consistently reiterated throughout the event, were coal ash spills and fracking.
Speakers also added their voice into the mix. Reverend Johnson and his wife, Joyce Johnson, spoke passionately about their involvement in the Beloved Community Center, and how they would not allow their voices to be silenced.
“This party is about reclaiming our right to self-determination,” Reverend Johnson said. “When we make choices, we build our communities well-being. Companies like Duke Energy hurt us (sic),” said Reverend Johnson, while other speakers also worked to empower and inspire the surrounding crowd to take action.
Despite all of the different ideas being put forth by the varying groups present, the common link between everyone there was the desire for environmental and energy change, as well as the obvious support being given to the Beloved Community Center.
With the center having been a part of Greensboro for so many years, everyone present was appalled with the treatment they are receiving. Currently, the solar panels sit atop the center. They were connected by Duke Energy in June 2015, and as Reverend Johnson declared in his speech, they will stay there if the Beloved Community Center has any say in the matter.
For more information on the Beloved Community Center, including their mission and future events, visit www.belovedcommunitycenter.org.