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In Celebration of Earth Day, this Partnership Shines a Light on New Possibilities

This year, Earth Day is more meaningful to me. Sure, I’ve observed the annual event since its inception in 1970, but this year, my work with a new client—Stracker Solar—has me more inspired than ever. Stracker Solar is a solar energy innovator and is a key player in a groundbreaking partnership that has the potential to benefit farmers, the public at large and the environment—all while supporting our collective desire to make every day “Earth Day.”

The partnership is an agrivoltaic project—using farmland for both agriculture and solar photovoltaic energy generation. With funding from a government grant, Stracker Solar, a Willamette Valley farm, and a renewable energy cooperative are testing the benefits to the three most foundational elements of modern life: food, water and energy.

Here’s a bit from the press release:

Stracker on the farm“A pioneering research project will allow Our Table Cooperative Farm, a leading advocate for sustainable farming practices, to counter the challenges of growing heat-sensitive crops like lettuce during Oregon’s increasingly hot summers by growing them under elevated, moving solar panels and reducing the water needed for irrigation. The project will supply nearly all of the farm’s energy needs and provide backup power to keep its farm store and food storage running during natural disasters.

“The project, named “Lettuce Shine, is a collaborative effort of Our Table Farm, the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, and Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. It is largely funded by a generous grant from Portland General Electric’s Renewable Development Fund. It will use unique pole-mounted solar panels from Ashland, Oregon-based Stracker Solar, and battery storage from Sol-Ark. Dynalectric Oregon, an electrical contractor based in Portland, will install the components.”

Lettuce Shine LogoThe project is underway and will facilitate research and educational opportunities for schoolchildren, college students, and the public at large. It’s exciting to be part of a partnership with such a wide-reaching impact. Why couldn’t there be more win-win-win partnerships? My optimism tells me there can.

As a business coach and strategist, I’m always curious about why some partnerships are more successful than others. I asked my LinkedIn network what they thought were the essential components of a successful partnership and here’s what I heard:

Shared goals, distinct roles, willingness to keep the problems separate from the personalities, clarity about who has decision rights in various domains, taking oneself lightly, a sense of humor and extending each other grace. It’s a tall order but some partnerships are 1+1=3.

So far, the Our Table partnership has lived up to these tenets. As another person commented on LinkedIn, successful partnerships must embody “Clear communication, shared goals, and trust.”

What partnerships are you involved in? Think about all aspects of your life. What is helping—or hurting—each partnership’s success?

As we reflect on Earth Day’s importance, I encourage you to consider the idea that we humans are all in partnership with each other and we are responsible for caring for our planet. Not just one day a year, but every day.

As Lady Bird Johnson once said, “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.”