Shall we say here and now that the next twenty years will not be like the last twenty years. I find it necessary to recognize and acknowledge this reality daily in order to even begin to think about how to react. Fortunately I am not alone.

Last week members of CT’s nascent municipal Energy Task Forces, citizens who understand that we must “think and act anew”, gathered at the West Hartford Town Hall to share their experiences. I went to learn what I suspected. They are earnestly feeling their way. And they have allies.

Right now a few things are in place to help folks like this begin to make a difference. First among them is the CT Clean Energy Fund‘s program to provide renewable energy to communities that meet fairly modest clean energy subscription rates for their populations. By agreeing to purchase your energy from a clean energy provider you and your neighbors help your community qualify for solar electric systems for their municipal buildings.

Please consider taking this simple, and really minimal, action toward a clean energy future. If you are inclined, find out if your community has established an Energy Task Force and learn what they are doing. Even better, become involved in their programs.

I learned that West Hartford is leading the way. One inspiring example from their efforts is a school-wide challenge (schools are typically the greatest energy consumers in a town). Last November each school competed to see who could most dramatically lower their usage. These efforts were led by the kids (with their energy equivalent of the old “safety patrols”). As a result of this awareness they managed to save over $150,000 in electrical costs across the school system last year. And they took these lessons home to their families asking, “Why is that coffee machine plugged in even when we aren’t using it?”

At the end of the week I dropped in on a Congressman Chris Murphy’s climate change symposium at the Hillstead Museum in Farmington. Former EPA Commissioner Carol Browner, President Obama’s new Assistant on Energy and Climate Change and the first person to hold such a position at the president’s right hand joined him, an audience of advocates, and four CT business people engaged in the “new” clean energy economy in CT to describe the potential of this historic moment. What a relief to see and hear people with their sleeves rolled up, eager and excited to engage the challenges we face.

As Lincoln described nearly 150 years ago, we find ourselves in an “occasion piled high with difficulty”. He so rightly recognizes that, “as our case is new, we must think and act anew.” But perhaps more profoundly, he recognizes the need to “disenthrall ourselves”.

As I consider how to react to the emergent new realities about our economy, our environment, and our energy future, it seems considerably important to heed Lincoln’s admonition. Because the next twenty years will be nothing like the last twenty years we must not imagine that we can recreate what came before. As Lincoln said:

“Then we shall save our country.”