Alex Honnold’s Foundation Goes to Detroit
Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Reverend Joan Ross is a radio host and an activist within her Detroit community. She partnered with the Honnold Foundation to equip low-income families with solar panels for their homes. Solar Detroit, from production company Duct Tape Then Beer, highlights the impact a few solar panels can have on a neighborhood.
ALEX HONNOLD: I'm Alex. I'm a professional rock climber. I spent the last 20 years pushing myself and climbing in that way, choosing big goals and working toward them. And so I think it's important to have something to work for.
RADIO ANNOUNCER: This is radio [INAUDIBLE], 96.7 FM, WNUC Detroit.
REVEREND JOAN ROSS: Say, Detroit. Buckle up, strap in. This is the show we've been waiting for. And joining me in the studio today, my hero for sure, Alex Honnold is here from the Honnold Foundation. Alex, I am so happy you're in Detroit.
ALEX HONNOLD: No. [INAUDIBLE] good. Thanks for having me. [INAUDIBLE] my first time.
REVEREND JOAN ROSS: In Detroit-- this is the Far East side of Detroit, when we went into the big bubble in 2008, and a lot of these families began to lose their homes. And just here, you can begin to see boarded-up houses, things like that. These are still beautiful little houses, though.
BETTY: Ooh. Good morning.
REVEREND JOAN ROSS: Hey, we descending on you, baby.
BETTY: And look, my baby say, who are them people out there?
REVEREND JOAN ROSS: [INAUDIBLE] This is Dory. She's the executive director for the Honnold Foundation. This is Betty, our community land trust family.
DORY TRIMBLE: Thank you so much for letting us invade your home.
BETTY: No problem.
DORY TRIMBLE: The Honnold Foundation promotes solar energy for a more equitable world. So what that means is that we support nonprofits all over the world who are using solar energy to make people's lives better and to reduce environmental impact. I first met Reverend Ross this winter. And it was immediately evident to me that we should be supporting the work that Reverend Ross is doing at NEWCC.
BETTY: I bought the home back in '95 Got behind in my taxes, And the land trust was picking out homes where people didn't have to move, and you were able to stay in home.
That's how I got involved with Reverend Ross. It's a blessing. I raised all my kids here, and grandkids, too.
REVEREND JOAN ROSS: Well, well, well. Alex, you'd probably be more at home up there.
ALEX HONNOLD: I don't know.
[INAUDIBLE]. Watching these guys move, you're like, oh this is how actual professionals do it. It's a lot faster and a lot more-- it's a lot more impressive. The work that the Honnold Foundation is supporting through Reverend Ross is exactly the sort of project that we've tried to support around the world. And so to see this happening in Detroit, in this kind of community, is perfect.
SPEAKER 2: [INAUDIBLE] standing them up on end.
DORY TRIMBLE: Like, the solar panels that are going on your house, I guess this is the first home in the country that's getting these special solar panels, like the new one they're putting in.
You're getting the best of the best.
CARY HAYES: So REC partnered with NEWCC and the Honnold Foundation. And we donated 50 kilowatts of solar modules to 10 households here in Detroit. So this is REC's new Alpha series solar panel.
SPEAKER 1: All right, man. Do the honors.
ALEX HONNOLD: Boom.
SPEAKER 1: You hear that click?
ALEX HONNOLD: Yeah
SPEAKER 1: That means you're good.
CARY HAYES: When people are paying $150, $200 a month in electric bills, and we can spin their meter backwards, save them $200-- call it $200 a month, that's $2,400 a year, that's real money.
BETTY: This is going to make a big difference. And hopefully, it cuts the bill in half.
ALEX HONNOLD: I say it's pretty satisfying to see a project that we've talked about for so long and read about it and imagined, And to actually see it physically happening is super-satisfying. And I think maybe even more satisfying is to meet the homeowner, and to see her grandkids playing on the driveway. You just, see the people who will be affected by this project, and to see the lives that are impacted.
SPEAKER 3: I know what green is.
REVEREND JOAN ROSS: I know what green is, too. But making a house green is different.
SPEAKER 3: I know what that is.
REVEREND JOAN ROSS: Let the story of Detroit, and the heroes, the champions, of Detroit be the story that you focus on. It's the guys who are struggling to raise kids with a $500 a month electric bill. It's the families like Betty, and it's the folks who will pitch in with me to help other people when it may not even be their fight at all.
Those are the heroes in Detroit. Tonight especially, I'd like to thank a whole bunch of people that helped make a dream that I have come true. And that is to provide solar in the city for low-income families.
And for the benefit of the citizens of our great city, it exemplifies the spirit of Detroit.