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December 16, 2013

Alt Rockers and Sierra Club Team Up for Clean Energy


You know somebody is really walking the green walk when you meet them in Los Angeles and they show up on their bicycle. That was the first thing that impressed me about Skylar Funk, above at left, when I met him recently at a coffee shop in the Silver Lake neighborhood near downtown L.A. The second was his infectious enthusiasm for a project that is now coming down the home stretch.

Funk is co-leader with Merritt Graves, at right above, of the alternative rock band Trapdoor Social, which broke onto the music scene last December with their debut EP release, Death of a Friend. The two met in an Environmental Analysis program at Pomona College in 2007 and quickly bonded over their shared passion for music and the environment. After graduating, Funk spent a year volunteering for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.


Now, Trapdoor Social is partnering with the Sierra Club, Everybody Solar, and GRID Alternatives to raise $30,000 for a solar energy project in Los Angeles. All proceeds from pre-orders of Trapdoor Social's new album, due out in the new year, will go toward installing solar panels on the roof of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that provides services, counseling, and job training -- with a special focus on the green energy sector -- to formerly gang-involved men and women.


"Merritt and I want Trapdoor Social to be part of a movement that engages people in making social change," Funk says. "Climate disruption is an urgent matter, and the Homeboy solar fundraiser is an opportunity for us to make a point about the importance of renewable energy."

"We're excited about the emerging clean-energy economy, which will promote national security through energy independence and job creation in a new sustainable sector," says Graves.


Trapdoor Social is using Pledge Music, an online "direct-to-fan" music platform, to host the fundraiser. Anyone who makes a donation by the end of 2013 will get the band's new album prior to its official public release, along with the satisfaction of knowing they've contributed to two righteous causes: clean energy and a non-profit that is making a real difference in helping motivated people turn their lives around.

Father-Gregory-Boyle"We are very grateful to be the beneficiaries of this project," says Father Greg Boyle, at left, a Los Angeles native, Jesuit priest, and founder & executive director of Homeboy Industries. "The installation of solar panels at Homeboy will reduce our energy costs, increase awareness about renewable energy, and help us promote our Solar Panel Installation Training and Certification Program. Our hope is that we will quickly get more people involved in the program, completing the courses, passing the national test, and eventually working in the solar panel installation industry."

The Sierra Club got involved with the Homeboy solar fundraiser this summer when Funk contacted Sierra Club organizer Michael Sarmiento, whom he'd met during his stint with Beyond Coal.


"The Sierra Club is really excited to be supporting Trapdoor Social in this project," says Sarmiento, an organizer for the Club's My Generation campaign, which focuses on expanding access to clean energy across California, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. "Partnerships like this will help create good jobs in the renewable energy sector and bring substantial energy savings to families and organizations like Homeboy that are doing such amazing work."


Above, Funk and Graves tour Homeboy's offices with program coordinator Thaddeus Skiles. Below, the band visits the Sierra Club's L.A. headquarters.


"Clean energy is the energy of the future, and the future is now," says Aura Vasquez, statewide partnerships representative for the Club. "The savings and environmental benefits of clean energy can't be overstated. As we transition away from fossil fuels, it's critical that we replace that energy with clean, renewable sources. Two-thirds of all new solar panel installations in California are currently taking place in low-income and middle-class neighborhoods, and we want to make sure that clean energy is available to everyone."


Last week Trapdoor Social co-sponsored an event at Homeboy's headquarters, below, for all the Southern California partners who have joined the Homeboy solar fundraiser, including the Sierra Club, Everybody Solar, GRID Alternatives, ecoSolargy and Solectria, which are donating panels and inverters, and Orion, which is donating mounting systems.


"We're on a mission," says Funk. "We want to use our music and the megaphone we're fortunate enough to have through Trapdoor Social to raise money and awareness about environmental sustainability. And you will hear the passion in the music."


(Click on the photo above to watch Trapdoor Social's new video for their song, Like You Never.)

Make your donation today to help Homeboy Industries go solar in 2014.


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