On Sept. 20, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a captivated audience gathered in the Hesburgh Library auditorium to watch the Frontline/NPR documentary “Blackout in Puerto Rico.” Overwhelmed by the storm’s devastation to the island and the debilitating effect it had on recovery efforts, the group sat in total silence as they contemplated what it must have been like to be left in complete darkness.
Notre Dame professor Dr. Yamil Colón, Melchor Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and affiliated faculty with the Center for Sustainable Energy (ND Energy), introduced the film as part of the 12th annual Notre Dame Energy Week, sponsored by ND Energy.
Shown in honor of the hurricane victims and to contribute to an understanding of the devastation Hurricane Maria had on so many American lives both then and still today, this documentary also introduced the upcoming presentation by Arturo Massol-Deyá, executive director of Casa Pueblo and professor of microbiology and ecology at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Entitled “Casa Pueblo’s Energy Insurrection in Puerto Rico”, this lecture is scheduled on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in Mendoza’s Jordan Auditorium and is open to the public.
Massol-Deyá will tell his story of Puerto Rico’s fight for recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria as he recounts the efforts by Casa Pueblo, an award-winning environmental non-profit organization in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. He will discuss how this one town is leading an effort to create energy independence and the steps being taken to generate 50% of their energy at the point of consumption with solar panels and independent microgrids by 2027.
“We are honored and excited to welcome Arturo Massol-Deyá to the University of Notre Dame to be a part of the events during Energy Week,” said ND Energy’s director, Prof. Peter C. Burns. “Both events (the documentary film and presentation) are important to our understanding of the urgency to create energy systems and new technologies that can withstand such severe and extreme conditions as Hurricane Maria.”
These two events also support a larger effort on campus focused on Puerto Rico. The Listening to Puerto Rico Teach-Out announced jointly in August by the University of Notre Dame and University of Michigan calls us to act expeditiously to the needs of Puerto Rico. In his remarks, Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., urges us to “… connect with organizations on the ground to help the many people still on the road to recovery” as this is what Notre Dame’s distinct mission calls us to do “… to be a force for good in the world and respond to the demands of justice.” View the full announcement on YouTube.
In response to this call for action, ND Energy is also hosting a listening session with Arturo Massol-Deyá and university faculty and administrators on Sept. 26, by invitation only. Massol-Deyá will discuss what he thinks the university can do to improve the conditions in Puerto Rico and help build back the island to a better state than before Hurricane Maria. For more information about this discussion, contact ND Energy’s education and outreach associate program director, Anne Berges Pillai.
Energy Week is sponsored by ND Energy and its Student Energy Board and has been held on Notre Dame’s campus since 2007. This year’s program is co-sponsored by several campus partners interested in raising awareness and bringing action to the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico: Center for Civic Innovation; Center for Social Concerns; Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; Environmental Change Initiative; Hesburgh Program in Public Service; Institute for Latino Studies; John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values; Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development; Office of Digital Learning; and Office of Sustainability.
ND Energy is a University Research Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing our world today. For more information, visit the ND Energy website at energy.nd.edu or contact Barbara Villarosa, Business and Communications Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-631-4776.