Inspire(d) Spring 2022

Page 56


Let’s be a



SAVE BIG WITH A SOLAR LOAN • Install Solar and Claim a 26% Federal Tax Credit* • 100% Financing Available** • Solar Financing For Homes, Businesses, Non-Profits, and Farms


*Consult your tax advisor. **Financing must be used for qualifying clean energy projects related to solar system installations. Loans subject to credit approval. Our solar lending program is Member available in IA, WI, MN and IL. FDIC




ig environmental issues – such as groundwater contamination in our karst Driftless and climate change credited with bigger and more frequent storms (derechos?) – are, without a doubt, overwhelming. It can be hard to watch earth issues continue to escalate, especially if you’ve long been trying to do your part on the homefront by recycling, driving a fueleconomized vehicle, or investing in renewable power, among other commitments. That’s where green advocacy on a community scale picks up, say Ayla Boylen of Cedar Rapids and Leslie Smith Sand of Decorah. Both have found meaningful and diverse friendships, hope, and a stronger voice in civic initiatives. “I found a community I hadn’t realized I was lacking,” says Ayla. “And now that I’ve found allies, I can lift up even more people who are very deserving.” A Mount Mercy University art major, Ayla grew up a self-professed “feral woodland child” on 30 acres surrounded by thousands more acres of forest near Decorah, she explains. “In an environment that pristine, it wasn’t too hard to see the mark humans make in everything.” Then, when she was in 8th grade, her dad Scott (also her 8th grade English teacher), made Ayla and her brother Samson watch An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary that followed Al Gore on his international campaign to raise awareness of climate change. “That’s when I first thought, ‘Oh s$!t. No one is willing to give up convenience to look longer term.’” Ayla started pulling for community action in earnest in the wake of tragedy: her brother’s sudden death at age 14, when she was 16, of rare complications of cancer treatment. Samson’s unfinished life accelerated her Ayla Boylen anchored a four-hour Cedar Rapids Climate thinking about the kind of world she would Strikers’ peaceful protest every Friday, encouraging a have wanted to give his children – if he’d had friendly “honk for a green future” conversation with them. She also needed to find her own way to passing motorists. / Photo courtesy Ayla Boylen advocacy, outside of climbing the traditional ladders of influence. “More and more young people aren’t sure their vote even matters when what they’re hearing – no matter how they vote – is some kind of excuse-making about the super-slow process of policy making. They’re frustrated and feel disenfranchised. “I came to realize that many people, young people especially, are terrified by every month, every week, every day of inaction, and they need something to do with that fear.” Ayla credits Swedish climate advocate Greta Thunberg with inspiration to action. “When I saw how this high schooler with Asberger’s [syndrome] was starting the conversation, I thought, ‘Surely there’s more I can do here.’” Beginning in 2019, Ayla anchored the Cedar Rapids Climate Strikers’ peaceful protest every Friday on the steps of Cedar Rapids’ city hall, encouraging recognition of climate issues through the passage of

Spring 2022 /

Continued on next page