MCE Employee Spotlight: Alexandra McGee

MCE Employee Spotlight: Alexandra McGee

MCE’s Employee Spotlight blog series gives an inside look on some of the incredible members of MCE’s staff and the sustainable actions that they take in their everyday lives. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed here are not necessarily representative of the views, opinions, and beliefs of MCE as an agency.

Alexandra McGee is MCE’s Strategic Initiatives Manager. Alexandra’s main initiatives with MCE include supporting our green-collar workforce development initiatives, our battery storage development for local resiliency, and advancing our commitment to equity through supplier diversity programs.

Why did you decide to work at MCE?

I believe in the transformative power of renewable energy. If we’re going to have a chance to mitigate the worst of this climate crisis, we need to change how we relate to energy and we have to do so quickly. I went to Nicaragua during graduate school to study how decentralized renewable energy provides power to communities that aren’t able to be connected to the central power grid. A small solar panel or a water wheel can transform an entire community by bringing them electricity, harnessing physical as well as social power.

When I returned to California, I wanted to continue working with this technology. I gravitated toward Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs) because of the enormous impact they could make at the utility scale. At the time, there were only three CCAs in California. It seemed like a very natural fit to join a community-based, not-for-profit agency looking to harness the power of renewables for a better world.

During your time at MCE, what projects have been the most meaningful to you?

My mind immediately goes to a city council meeting where the councilmembers were voting on whether to join MCE. It was an almost empty city council chamber with officials and staff passing through agenda items and keeping familiar company late into the night. For me, this meeting represented months of answering questions on CCAs, responding to local advocates, drafting content to present to their council, reviewing staff reports, and building a case for the benefits of joining our CCA.

The vote to join MCE came down to a 2-2 tie, with the mayor undecided. The discussion was non-confrontational but my heart pounded wildly. After what seemed like an eternity, the mayor voted in favor of joining MCE. In this quiet chamber, three people voted to keep thousands of metric tons of carbon out of our environment. I took a deep breath, and with that breath came astonishment. This was the first time I saw how the interlocking wheels of individual effort clicked together to yield the incredible power of local government. I was hooked.

How have you incorporated sustainable practices into your everyday life?

We live in a world of transnational companies and global supply chains. The decisions we make in our own backyard can have effects that are felt around the world. I take this responsibility seriously and try to minimize my own footprint as much as I can.

When MCE staff began working remotely in March 2020, my partner and I made the decision to move to an urban farm in San Lorenzo. We now eat eggs from the annoyed backyard chickens and salads from the backyard as well. Our car is a hybrid that gets 40+ miles per gallon. We also exclusively buy from the used market since doing so does not exert any demand on the market to supply.

While the pandemic has left many of us feeling alone, it’s abundantly clear that we aren’t disconnected from each other. The plastic from your chip bag might end up in the ocean and wash up on a beach and pollute a different country. The cheap fashion you buy may keep Mexican maquiladoras or Taiwanese sweatshops in business. It is, unfortunately, too easy to do harm in this world, and I believe that we have to take great care to live intentionally.

How have you incorporated sustainable practices into your everyday life?

We live in a world of transnational companies and global supply chains. The decisions we make in our own backyard can have effects that are felt around the world. I take this responsibility seriously and try to minimize my own footprint as much as I can.

When MCE staff began working remotely in March 2020, my partner and I made the decision to move to an urban farm in San Lorenzo. We now eat eggs from the annoyed backyard chickens and salads from the backyard as well. Our car is a hybrid that gets 40+ miles per gallon. We also exclusively buy from the used market since doing so does not exert any demand on the market to supply.

While the pandemic has left many of us feeling alone, it’s abundantly clear that we aren’t disconnected from each other. The plastic from your chip bag might end up in the ocean and wash up on a beach and pollute a different country. The cheap fashion you buy may keep Mexican maquiladoras or Taiwanese sweatshops in business. It is, unfortunately, too easy to do harm in this world, and I believe that we have to take great care to live intentionally.

What would you say to someone who wants to help the environment but feels they won’t make a difference?

You can’t throw every starfish back into the sea, but any starfish you do throw back thanks you.

How can others kick-start their sustainability journey?

Here’s a handful of things that I recommend:

  1. Opt up to Deep Green! It only takes one minute and has a huge impact.
  2. Research your recycling agency’s rules to ensure that you aren’t mixing trash and recyclables. If they find too much trash in with the good stuff, they’ll throw the whole thing out.
  3. Divert your compost into your garden or your green bin to keep it from turning to methane in the landfill.
  4. Before you splurge on something new, check out options to buy used. Remember, if the market doesn’t “see” your demands, it doesn’t produce more supply and the corresponding waste.Be a ninja. Do not be seen.
  5. Vote. It’s a privilege to have your voice heard. People have fought, protested, and even died to allow you the privilege to have your voice be heard in the public process. Don’t take it for granted.
  6. Understand sustainability as more than just reducing, reusing, and recycling. Sustainability is also how we treat the planet, how we treat each other, and how we treat ourselves. Educate yourself on how oppressions overlap, read about how vulnerabilities compound, and be empowered by your ability to take action. #BlackLivesMatter

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