Thankful for the Smart Grid and So Much More
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it causes me to reflect on life and the many things I often take for granted. Last year, as host of the family dinner, after everyone was fed and happy, we gathered for a presentation. I explained the crisis regarding fresh drinking water and challenged the 30-plus family members at my home to join me in raising money to provide a well for a village in Kenya. I am honored to say my family and friends rose to the occasion and as a result, my immediate family, including my 14-year-old son, recently took a church missions trip to help the natives living in a remote village about six hours from Nairobi, Kenya. While there, we were blessed to see the well we raised money for go live and produce fresh water. Below is a picture of a kid enjoying his first sips.
This Thanksgiving, many of us will have plenty of beverage options. The above picture serves as a reminder to be thankful for tap water. Prior to the well, kids in this village risked being attacked by crocodiles with every trip to the river to gather water. And while the American infrastructure can certainly be improved, the picture below provides one more reason to be thankful. I took it because the scaffolding caught my attention. How many safety concerns do you spot?
I am thankful our construction workers have laws designed to provide them with safe working conditions. I often lament the traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway in Philly. In the African desert and bush, there is little traffic but many of the roads are not roads but clearings. The terrain is beautiful red sand. Pretty, but horrible for driving. Our non-air-conditioned vans would often get stuck. Below is a woman passing us up on her donkey drawn cart!
The jumbo wheels on her cart remind us that it is 2011. I am thankful for innovation – Zip Cars, Smart Cars and cars powered by natural gas, as well as electric cars. Innovation exists in the desert, too. Below, an entrepreneur uses his solar panel for all it is worth. He has created a business charging cell phones for his neighbors.
Standing in a hut and watching the owner answer her cell phone was surreal. Although their grass hut homes do not have electricity or running water, many of the owners now carry cell phones. The chasm between old and new is stark. While the smart grid may not always be so smart and electric reliability is not perfect, percentage wise, we have a lot to be thankful for. As you enjoy the simple blessings of our infrastructure – running water, phone service, paved roads and electricity, have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!