Dec 7, 2015

Interview with Empowerment Solar

Top: Ramadi, where Morgenstein served as a
Marine and saw the effects of electricity cuts
Bottom: Ramallah by night, where most of 
Empowerment's work will be focused
You may remember my post on the solar installation at the Argyle condos. It was one of my first interviews and I got to speak with the building manager, Wayne Gleason about the 84 panels on the condo roof. On Nov. 15, I headed back up to that rooftop to interview Jonathan Morgenstein of Empowerment Solar.

Here is a brief overview of the interview:
    -I give a quick intro on my blogging experience
    -Jonathan explains the motivation behind Empowerment
    -He then talks about why he chose Ramallah
    -He lays out his plans for the launch and expansion
    -He finishes with what we can do to support
This was a particularly exciting interview because Jonathan is focused on doing international solar projects. This was right up my alley--my eventual goal is to take advantage of existing renewable energy tech and plug it in to high-growth but energy-unstable cities around the world. Jonathan aims to bring solar to the West Bank and then growing his program across the Middle East and North Africa. Check out Jonathan's Indiegogo campaign here if you'd like to learn more about where he's coming from and what he hopes to accomplish.

Outside of the video interview, Jonathan and I connected a lot over international affairs. He has extensive international experience: he served as a U.S. Marine in Iraq, election monitor for IRI, legislative assistant on foreign affairs in the U.S. Senate, and a program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace for a couple of years. These jobs have helped him to see the importance of energy in global markets and the role accessible electricity plays in stabilizing conflict zones. 


This interview was also special because I was joined by my friend, Manuel Leon a.k.a. Potencial Puro. I've been looking to get Manuel out on a solar visit. A few months ago, he offered some encouragement on my blog and even gave me a solar hat fan. For that, I am forever indebted to him. Manuel is a graphic artist, designer, photographer, and videographer. He did a professional job of capturing the interview, which you will see below. If you'd like to skip the interview but still get a sense of our experience, you can go straight to this time lapse of Manuel, Jonathan, and me wandering around the roof.

There were a few lessons I learned from the interview experience. First was the importance of video editing. I was able to reduce 20 minutes of video to three and a half and that's a lot more digestible for Youtube viewers. Second was transcribing. I thought subtitles would be helpful for viewers and a bunch of Youtubers recommend it for search engine optimization. Third was sound. Manuel had a microphone on his camera which caught the noise but produced a buzzing sound and had trouble picking up our voices in the wind. I might try to fashion a boom mic next time. Finally was appearance. Although the view in the background is gorgeous, Jonathan and I were squinting in the sun or lost in the shadows. I was also having a less-that-stellar hair day. Lighting and looks help the video look a lot more professional.

Thanks for reading my ramblings and I hope you enjoy the interview!