Every week in February, Groundswell has recognized individuals making major contributions to Black, Green communities and initiatives. For our final week, we sat down with Edward Brame, an active leader for multiple outreach initiatives at Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Washington, D.C.
Brame's heartfelt service to the community takes multiple forms through the programs he leads at the Church. During his tenure as a Head Trustee for the church, Brame led efforts to install a community solar project, allowing 47 low-income families in the community to receive solar energy credits at no cost as part of the District of Columbia's Solar for All program. Brame has served as an Elder at Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Groundswell: If you wanted to introduce your community to a stranger, how would you describe your community?
Brame: Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church has been in the Washington DC metro area for over 100 years. The congregation has a passion for helping the community, and the church's main passion is Christian education. As an inner-city church in southeast Washington, D.C., the congregation's passion is to help the community and educate those in need. Our school has always been for the families of our faith, and it is mostly made up of community kids.
Just recently, we've expanded our service to solar energy. We could see that we could help people reduce common operating expenses by working with Groundswell on this ambitious program. It was new, and it was — at that time — cutting edge.
We were probably one of the first churches that put community solar up on their roof, and we had a parking lot that we put solar panels on. We knew that solar energy would become more prevalent, and those who were not homeowners would not be able to get the benefit of reduced expenses from other solar programs. We looked at the number of homes that we could support over a 25 year period, and we were able to get it done. Our membership is now really on board with how community solar can impact the community.
Community solar has helped the congregation broaden its horizons to other grants and programs that can benefit the immediate neighborhood. It's helped a lot. It opened our congregation's eyes to other programs that we should try and ways to be more engaging. Community solar with Groundswell has helped the church grow.
Groundswell: How have environmental concerns impacted your community?
Brame: We've always had the luxury of having a park right across from the church, so our youth — which we call our Pathfinders that are equivalent to Boy Scout Girl Scout — would be able to walk through that park and see all a natural space right in our community. We're going to help not only the environment for our kids, our grandkids, and our future members, but it will also be a service to those who need to think about conservation. D.C. has one of the best community solar programs in the nation. Community organizations like churches must get involved to help people benefit from participation in these programs. Otherwise, people are going to be left behind.
Groundswell: What is the greatest need in the community you serve?
Brame: The biggest problem with the pandemic is that you want to help someone, but every time you try to go out to help someone, you're putting your own health at risk. For us of faith, you just have to take a leap of faith. You say, "I'm going to take the standard precautions that I can. I'm going to go put on a mask. I'm going to put gloves on, but I'm still going to be engaged in to do the vision that Our Lord has put me here to do and go forth and do it."