Watts Neighborhood Council was proud to sponsor the Watts Drive and Ride Electric Car Event Saturday, September 8 at St. John’s United Methodist Church. The event was organized with the Watts Clean Air and Energy Group.

Attendees had the opportunity to drive or ride in 17 electric vehicles. Tesla showed up with two Teslas that people could drive. The remaining cars were privately owned and available for drives or rides depending on the owner’s wishes. We loved the participation of Tesla in a low income community of color when other dealers who had committed to come, failed to show. Thank you Tesla! Also inspiring was Jamie, a person of color who owns a Tesla. He came back for the secondĀ  year to participate. Thank you Jamie and all the owners who were willing to share their cars and their experiences about Electric Vehicles!

Saturday’s event was also a momentous occasion because together we flipped the switch on the new solar array at St. John’s United Methodist Church. The new solar panels will provide 85% of the power needed for the church. The installation was made possible through a unique partnership between the Watts Clean Air & Energy Committee, Watts Neighborhood Council, the Sierra Club, Grid Alternatives and the DWP. This is particularly a point of pride because it would be easy to think that a low income community would not take a leadership position with new technology. This is one low income community that doesn’t agree!

LADWP Commissioner Aura Vasquez and former Commissioner William Funderburk spoke powerfully about the advocacy of the Watts Clean Air and Energy Committee bringing more solar, more energy efficiency upgrades and more car chargers to Watts. Our group will be speaking before the DWP Commission in the coming months to get them to reverse their neglect of communities in South LA. We’re still far behind the richer parts of LA, and we don’t feel like putting up with it.

We all celebrated the success of the solar installation and Drive & Ride event as Council District 15, Joe Buscaino, Assembly District 64, Mike Gipson, and Congressional District 44, Nanette Barragan presented Resolution Certificates to the participants: St. John’s Methodist Church, the Sierra Club, the Watts Clean Air & Energy Committee, and Grid Alternatives.

Rounding out the fun was the DJ spinning great music, a jumper and games for the kids who also got to draw messages in chaulk, tee shirt and goody bag giveaways, spider plants for clean air indoors, live poetry by Food For Thought, and great food. Thank you to all who participated!