ICDC is Going Green in Sunny South Dallas
By Cheryl Smith
Photos by Stewart Curet
For decades, Dallas native and former Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Diane Ragsdale has been a champion for her community and while some grow up and move away, she is one who stayed and has been instrumental in the growth and development of an area that oftentimes is overlooked.
Since its founding in 1986 by Ragsdale, who serves as the executive director, the Innercity Development Corporation (ICDC) has been all about transforming the South Dallas Community.
ICDC has focused on building and revitalizing communities, with several ongoing initiatives that include building more than 250 homes and an office complex for commercial and retail development; creating an incubator center and health care facility; and developing partnership with Dallas College to provide training.
At a press conference that included sponsors and board members, as well as members of the community and Dallas City Councilmember Adam Bazaldua, it was announced that Green Mountain Energy Sun Club was donating more than $130,000 to assist ICDC in transitioning to solar power.
According to Ragsdale, ICDC wants to model the type of businesses we want built in District 7 and her council member agrees.
“This is incredible for the southern sector,” said Bazaldua, as he referenced previous problems during power outages in the City of Dallas. “We don’t have to depend on a grid that has already failed us.”
The energy savings will allow ICDC to build more energy efficient affordable housing in the community and provide workforce training for green construction, homeownership counseling, and a business incubation program for community members. The total saved from the new solar array will allow more than 360 individuals to receive free financial counseling.
With ICDC leading by example, the event will also highlight ICDC homeowners who have installed solar panels and are sustainably preserving generational wealth through decreased energy costs.
The partnership between ICDC and Green Mountain Energy will offset 78% of the building energy needs, according to Johnny Richardson, program manager for Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. “We were able to supply a sustainability grant of $130,000 to ICDC. The grant will significantly reduce the organization’s electricity costs/energy needs while also increasing ICDC’s resilience.
“We believe in solutions that not only benefit the planet but benefit the people in the communities we serve,” he said, adding that the project could lead to generational wealth.
Stability is just what Kierra was looking for. On hand to tell her story about graduating from the program and moving on to a career in solar construction, she talked about her transition after exiting the military.
The former marine said the move was somewhat bumpy and she had to deal with housing issues. Fortunately she found out about a tiny homes project and solar training. Today, she’s just happy to work on projects like the one with ICDC.
This project, said Ragsdale, “Unveils another tool in our arsenal to fight economic and social injustice.”
Adding that the ICDC is able to continue its mission of building lives and revitalizing communities, Ragsdale said they are providing viable careers with gainful employment in the green construction industry.
“This jump to solar is not just to reduce our dependence upon the utility grids,” she explained.
“Flipping this switch benefits the entire community that we serve by using less fossil fuel and reducing pollutants in green house gas emissions that come from ndon green construction.”
In literature touting the program and encouraging applicants to take advantage of opportunities, information was presented that exhibited how through ICDC’s partnership with Dallas College, trainees in the workforce program earn industry recognized certifications that lead to living wage jobs. Additionally, through a partnership with Green Careers Dallas, a nonprofit providing solar installation training as a pathway to living wage work in a lasting career, solar installation apprentices will have an onramp to clean energy careers.
“We are especially proud to be a leader in the South Dallas/Fair Park communities to confront environmental racial injustice by switching to solar power. ICDC joins the fight to confront global warming and promote climate change.”