Nano-scale activism


Regarding Ray Ring's article about executive change at large environmental organizations, I understand the "frustration with boards of directors, low pay and constant fund-raising pressure" (HCN, 3/1/10). That's why I started Community for Sustainable Energy ( in 2006.

I worked with Clean Water Action and an affiliated national network for six years. I started CFORSE because I saw a better way to operate a grassroots canvass-based organization. Our overhead is minuscule compared to that of large organizations, allowing us to focus on local issues and keep our staff tight and well-trained compared to other canvassing groups.
It is truly an independent entrepreneurial activist venture, my version of the American dream. I have no board of directors to contend with, no personal fund-raising obligation (freeing my time to do other things), and I control my pay. The pay is still small potatoes, but I can go out and fund-raise through the canvass for extra income.

We have worked to get trash trucks in Fort Collins to use biodiesel, improve the city bus service, pushed the Colorado Department of Transportation to give us a train to Denver, worked to get electrical co-ops to invest in efficiency, and now are working to spread PACE across Colorado. (PACE is Property Assessed Clean Energy, which allows counties to issue bonds to loan to property owners for energy improvements.)

Fred Kirsch
Director, Community
for Sustainable Energy
Fort Collins, Colorado