Indie Rockers, Former Gang Members, and Sierra Club Team Up For Solar

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Soon to bear rooftop solar? | Photo: Homeboy Industries

Los Angeles-based alternative rockers Trapdoor Social have a reputation for environmental consciousness, ever since way back in 2011 when the band's principals Merritt Graves and Skylar Funk met while taking environmental studies courses at Pomona College.

So it's no surprise that the two would come up with a green-leaning way to promote their forthcoming album. But rather than offering their crowdsource patrons some green-tinged swag and calling it a day, Graves and Funk decided to use their promotional efforts to create some of what the marketing folks might call synergy.

Trapdoor Social's funding campaign for its next album, due out early next year, isn't actually going to fund the next album. Instead, the net proceeds from the crowdfunding campaign will go to put solar panels on the roof of an innovative and popular Los Angeles non-profit that's helped to turn thousands of young people's lives around: Homeboy Industries.

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The duo has enlisted the help of solar accessibility advocates Everybody Solar and GRID Alternatives to installl the solar panels once the money's raised, and the Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign, often reported on in these pages, has signed on to help promote the effort.

Homeboy Industries, founded in 1988 by Father Greg Boyle, was born out of a desire to help young men and women in Boyle Heights struggling to find ways to live their lives sustainably during L.A.'s gang heyday.

Since then, Homeboy Industries has provided job training, counseling, and other services such as tattoo removal for thousands of young people trying to escape the gang life.

This isn't Homeboy Industries' first foray into the world of solar panels, by the way: the non-profit has an established training program in which it covers tuition and materials costs for its participants who want to join the East Los Angeles Skills Center's solar installation training and certification program. In other words, Homeboy Industries has been taking promising young adults off the streets and helping them get up on rooftops with new, vital skills.

"This is a great opportunity to marry fundraising and the music world for solar energy," said Youness Scally of Everybody Solar. "Our mission is to protect the environment and strengthen U.S. communities through solar energy projects. This partnership will benefit Homeboy Industries, which has made a huge impact in the communities it serves."

The less Homeboy Industries has to pay in electric bills, the more funding that frees up for its life-changing work. Which makes the sun shine a little brighter on everyone.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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