Sharie Derrickson is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as a woman veteran.
I am so very honored to have been selected as a White House Champion of Change with these truly magnificent women who served in uniform and who continue to serve today. I am still not certain what I did to warrant such an honor, but feel blessed that I might have a vehicle in this blog to help enlighten others on the utmost importance of world-wide sustainability. As a Navy and combat journalist, I was able to travel across the world and experience different cultures and witness the human condition on various fronts. These travels were my first experiences that helped me understand the importance of sustainability to not only to the planet’s health, but to economic security, cultural identity preservation, and, yes, world peace.
Many people do not understand what sustainability is. When I left the military, I remained a journalist and had the pleasure to interview many who were working in the “Green” sector. Back then, it was somewhat of a new concept. Then came the term “Sustainability,” a more holistic approach: everything has to remain in balance. Economies cannot grow unless we take care of the environments that provide those resources, and the cultures that depend on those resources.
However, humans are reaping more than they can sow right now. We consume more than we can provide. Most of us have become slaves to the grid and would be crippled economically without power and clean drinking water. Besides food and shelter, communities must have clean drinking water, and available and affordable power to grow and prosper on the world stage. But there is more to it than that. Keeping the world – its people and their resources – balanced is vital not only for a healthy planet, but for our national security and the security of all people across the globe. I came to this conclusion in the military. My experiences at the Stars and Stripes newspaper and Combat Camera introduced me to many cultures, from the booming economy and technological wonderland of Tokyo, Japan to some of the hungriest and poor on the planet in Somalia. That is when it really hit me.
Our job in Operation Restore Hope was to help ensure peace in Somalia while food was being distributed to a culture that had been shattered after years of civil war. As a result of the war, the economy and the country’s infrastructure were devastated. At one time, Somalia was a relatively stable nation with a growing economy. Women were free and were highly educated. Somalia was a religiously moderate nation, and Islamic fundamentalism was a foreign concept. Not so now. For many years, education was not available to anyone and the beautiful capital of Mogadishu, along with the rest of the country, was reduced to rubble. There was no food, clean drinking water, or electricity. Somalia had gone from an African gem to a cesspool and it has not improved much since I left there, a fact that saddens me as I grew to love the country and its people while working there.
I realized when I was in Somalia that, until the infrastructure was rebuilt, these people had a poor chance of having a good and decent life. Once the country was destabilized, even basic needs became an elusive shadow, and radical Islam and terrorist organizations moved in. Most people knew it was too late, and left their own country for a future elsewhere as refugees. This is a repeated scenario around the world. Once a country loses its own ability to sustain itself with the basics for whatever reason, the country dissolves or turns into either a world-wide burden or a world-wide security threat. I love the idea of having a “Green Planet,” but what I love also is the idea of having a “Safe Planet” where children are free to grow up, be educated, and make the world a better place. But without the basic essentials of food, clean drinking water, and available, affordable, and reliable power, whether it be conventional or renewable, no society has a chance to thrive with longevity.
Sustainability is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world and I am proud to work in it and educate others about it. It is a business where the saying “It’s not personal, it’s just business” does not apply. It is personal for me. The children of Somalia, Haiti, Japan, and the United States, and my own daughter and granddaughter, will not have a stable world unless we sow more than we reap and establish balance, which, in turn, may lead to peace. Just as when I was in the military, peace is still the final objective.
Sharie Derrickson is Vice President of New Wind, LLC in Nashville, TN, a sustainable energy company.