This month, we hosted the first Rural Renaissance Roadshow in Bentonville, Arkansas. Leaders in clean energy, agriculture, government, media, and more joined us for three days focused on learning, strategizing, sharing resources, and building community.

During the Roadshow, we were blessed with deep and meaningful insight from Curtis Wynn, CEO of SECO EnergyLaurel Blatchford, Chief Implementation Officer of the IRA; and Will McIntee, Senior Advisor for Public Engagement at the White House — as well as other speakers including Dr. Mildred McClain of Harambee House and Al Puchala, Co-Founder and CEO of CapZone Impact Investments LLC.

Groundswell team members also shared insight based on Groundswell's efforts to build clean energy futures during panels and sessions throughout the Roadshow. Groundswell Director of Energy Programs Nicole Sonderegger and Community Engagement Associate Leon Childs' moving panel discussion on Energy Efficiency Healing laid out the unexpected challenges organizations may face when implementing energy efficiency programs. They also shared how Groundswell has overcome many of those challenges with the Save On Utilities Long term program.



Likewise, attendees heard insight into the role of community engagement when building programs focused on resilience when Resiliency Program Manager Tiffani Lawson presented on Building Resilience: Faith and Community-Centered Strategies. Tiffani explained both how to conduct effective outreach and why community outreach is important during the session designed to help attendees understand not only how to create an outreach strategy, but why each step is important to reaching energy resilience goals. Finally, Director of Subscriber Services Rashad Williams moderated a panel on Solar for All covering the factors that led to the award-winning program's success.

You can access recap videos of some of these sessions on The Groundswell Watch & Listen page.

While the goal of the Rural Renaissance Roadshow was to inspire, equip, and implement strategies to build thriving local clean energy futures, we also welcomed the opportunity to gather and learn from each other. Together, we got an authentic taste of Bentonville - the home of some groundbreaking American-made energy innovations. From trying out Bentonville's local restaurants to a morning prayer led by Rev. Pastor Michelle Morris, a Lead Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Bentonville, by the end of the conference, it was clear why we chose Bentonville as the location for the first Rural Renaissance Roadshow. We are thankful to all the speakers, vendors, and attendees who helped make the Roadshow a success.

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