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485. Organic Food Co-op Going Solar with Innovative Nonprofit

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reduced size The worker-owners of the  Other Avenues Food Cooperative outside the store.

The Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco is an oasis. Nestled along the Pacific Ocean is this relaxing surfer town, with a tranquil neighborhood feel that’s unique in the city. For 40 years, a worker-owned cooperative grocery store called Other Avenues has been serving the Outer Sunset community with local, organic foods and sustainable lifestyle products. For 8 years Other Avenues has been looking to go solar but has had a hard time finding the financing. Now they’ve partnered with nonprofit RE-volv to finance their project using a unique community funded model.

The worker-owners of the Other Avenues Food Cooperative outside the store.

The worker-owners of the Other Avenues Food Cooperative outside the store.

RE-volv uses crowdfunding to finance 20 year lease agreements for solar energy projects for community-based organizations.  As these organizations pay RE-volv back, RE-volv reinvests the money into additional projects creating a self-sustaining revolving fund called the “Solar Seed Fund.” Lease payments from RE-volv’s first two projects have reduced the amount RE-volv needs to crowdfund for this project by $7,000.

Going solar has been a long-held dream for Other Avenues. “I’ve been working on this project for eight years, and it’s been difficult to find the right fit for financing this solar project,” said Other Avenues president Darryl Dea. “So when RE-volv came around it was a perfect fit for us because not only do they work with nonprofits and co-ops, but we’re able to contribute to this fund which will further create more solar projects.”

By going solar, Other Avenues is taking the next step in its commitment to sustainability. Over the life of the solar energy system, Other Avenues will avoid emitting more than 600,000 pounds of carbon, the equivalent of planting 100 acres of trees. Going solar will also save Other Avenues $335,000 in avoided electricity costs over the next 25 years.

The partnership between RE-volv, a nonprofit, and Other Avenues, a worker-owned cooperative, demonstrates the power of communities in tackling climate change. When 400,000 marched in New York against climate change in September 2014, they demanded solutions. By crowdfunding for solar, RE-volv gives everyone the opportunity to help drive climate solutions by supporting a revolving fund for clean energy in communities. So even if someone can’t go solar at home, they can pitch in to help community-based organizations go solar.

“Other Avenues has been serving its community for forty years and has developed a tight knit community of supporters. We’re thrilled to be offering this community a way to take action on climate change and at the same time help their neighborhood grocery co-op” said RE-volv’s Executive Director, Andreas Karelas.

The campaign for Other Avenues ends February 19th and is currently 58% funded. Individuals can make tax deductible donations to the campaign at www.solarseedfund.org.

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