Episode 8: Chris Long

Andy talks about the effects of racism and how he learned to stand up to racism

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Today’s episode introduces us to a man with a sense of mission. 

Lee, who now dedicates his life to education and innovation regarding Climate Change, talks about his sense of mission first developing at an early age during conversations with his grandmother. He describes how she “spoke to me like an adult, not a child.. she told me to read books and to use the knowledge to help the world”. Interactions with his grandmother got Lee thinking: “how can I do something different that will help people and change the world.”

For a while, this question went unanswered. Lee joined a utilities company and began to focus on career progression and promotion. He didn’t think much about how he was helping the world until one day he took his daughters to work with him and they asked him what he did. The three of them were standing on the top floor of the building and looking out at the city, it suddenly occurred to Lee exactly what his job and his mission was, Lee responded: “Dad helps ensure that lights come on for everyone in San Diego.” In that moment, Lee realised “what I did really mattered to millions of people… a job can be more than making money and getting promotions”.

The importance of Lee’s job became even more apparent during an instance of fires occurring in San Diego. While the vast majority were rushing away from the destruction, Lee and other key workers were travelling towards the danger in order to do all that they could to mitigate the impact of the devastation. Lee was trying to ensure that as many people as possible would be able to maintain power in San Diego as soon as the fires had cleared. Describing his feelings at the time, Lee says “fear was there but it was overridden by a sense of responsibility…it was interesting to feel that way because I never considered myself a person of courage”. From this event, Lee discovered “this need to serve others and how important that was”. 

After the fires had cleared, Lee discovered that what had made them so devastating were the extreme wind-speeds which the power plant had not been built to cope with: “These events were not supposed to happen or only happen once in a 100 years.” Clearly something was changing and action needed to be taken to avoid even more harmful events occurring in the future.

Lee did all he could to encourage the company to diversify its energy use, focusing more on renewable sources in order to combat Climate Change. He achieved all he could in the company he worked for before becoming an independent advocate and innovator for green energy.

He has since been involved with launching four start-up companies and sits on a dozen boards of green energy businesses. He is also a speaker and educator regarding green energy. In his own words: “I still don’t feel I’ve achieved my grandmother’s desire for me and my own desire for myself, I do feel like I’m on a great track to do so…but I need to see some of these companies go all the way and really make a difference to people in the end.” With Lee’s energy and drive, it’s likely that he may well see that difference take effect.

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