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Green Mountain Energy

The year was 1997.  

You woke up to an actual alarm clock, which was entirely different from your camera, your telephone, and your computer — that is, if you had a computer. The crowning achievement of the technology world was Tickle Me Elmo. It was a different time.

And somewhere in central Vermont, a group of “flannel-wearing, sandal-footed, long-haired tree-huggers” were quietly bringing about the nativity of the green energy industry.


Nearly 20 years ago, renewable energy awareness was near zero.

In 1997, renewable energy wasn’t a global phenomenon waiting to happen. Though it had potential, it was so far only important to a select few.

All images via iStock.

It took pioneering minds to identify and commit to renewability as the future of power and energy.

Green Mountain Energy Company's founders didn’t think they'd be starting a movement. Like Henry Ford and his Model T or the people who put peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, Green Mountain simply realized that they could bring people something that was needed. Then they got to work.

“There was an opportunity to be a green energy pioneer,” says general manager Mark Parsons. The company's founders knew there were reliable ways to power peoples' homes that were also gentle on the Earth. “It became our mission to change the way power is made.”

In its first year, Green Mountain started bringing people residential electricity powered by wind and solar — both renewable sources.

They were facing a tough crowd: It wasn’t easy to convince the people of the '90s that renewable energy was necessary or reliable.

“People were skeptical,” says Parsons. “Traditional fossil fuels were widely accepted, and the future of those resources wasn't questioned like it is today.”

Their burgeoning movement lacked public support. Still, Green Mountain put its trust in the basic idea that if they could create a better, more environmentally responsible product, people would choose it.

And while traditional fossil fuel resources are limited, the supply of green energy is endless. “The sun will shine and the wind will always blow,” says Parsons. All Green Mountain had to do was help people realize they had a choice to harness that sunlight and wind.

One home at a time, Green Mountain built its business on early adopters willing to take a stance and decide to go green with their electricity.

Switching your electricity isn't a flashy ordeal, with hashtags and celebrity endorsements and a free water bottle emblazoned with a leaf. It's just like flipping a switch and choosing to get power from a more renewable source.

It might not seem like much, but it is. 20 years later, all of those little improvement projects in thousands of homes have added up — both for the company and for the world. According to Green Mountain, as of 2016, their customers had prevented more than 54.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide production by switching to green energy — the equivalent of planting 6.4 million trees or turning the lights out in 49.8 million houses for a year.

These days, green energy isn't just a resource — it's a whole movement.

After two decades in the industry, Green Mountain is an expert on where green energy is going. And they're optimistic about the future.

"The green conversation has gotten easier since 1997 as more information has come available," says Parsons. As society has learned more about renewable energy, switching to cleaner electricity has become a more popular choice.

"People are more knowledgeable and aware that their actions can make a difference," explains Parsons. And that's good news not just for Green Mountain, but for the world.

Today, you don't have to be a genius inventor to figure out that green energy is the future — and to get on board.

In 1997, those Green Mountain hippies from Vermont had to think way out of the box to find the path to their success today. But in 2017, renewable energy is just plain common sense.

"Being green feels good," says Parsons. "It's exciting to be a part of that change as we all aim to help protect the planet through making the right, small choices."

Update 8/21/2017: The share image was changed.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

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There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

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Photo by TR on Unsplash

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