Fall Party Recap!

Wow! I’m delighted to report that our Fall Party last night was a smashing success. We packed The State Room, and by the end of the night the 350 of us who attended were inspired and entertained.


Thanks so much to everyone who attended! I’m going to describe the program below to folks who couldn’t make it, because I think we told a great story during a critical moment and I want to share it with everyone. But before I do, I did want to explain why now is a great time for you to consider making a gift to HEAL Utah.

The theme of the Fall Party was “A Winning Formula.” We told stories about how HEAL — against the odds — gets stuff done. Our model of pushing for change and defending Utah against health and environmental threats feels even more critical, given that we are weeks away from likely the most challenging presidency of our lifetimes.

So, please, consider making a gift to HEAL Utah right now to invest in our continued efforts to fight for what’s right. Because of the generosity of several local businesses, foundations and individuals, a donation to HEAL today — and today only — will count for even more. These benefactors have put together a “matching fund” of $18,000 which HEAL earns if we can raise that much between the party last night and online today. Thanks so much!

OK, here’s more about the party (see photos in this email from HEAL Board member and professional photographer Jeff Clay.)

We began with an introduction from our newest staff member, Development Director Hannah Whitney, and then our two policy staff — Michael Shea and Ashley Soltysiak — described two big victories in 2016. Michael recounted how HEAL and our allies convinced the EPA to order strong pollution control technologies on Utah’s coal power plant fleet, while Ashley explained how we lobbied the State Legislature to require cleaner burning hot water heaters, a key step to limiting air pollution.

I followed, explaining the core HEAL values which helped to those victories: patience, perseverance, collaboration and strategic messaging.

But then, I looked forward. First, at the looming fight to defend solar against the attack by Rocky Mountain Power. Our utility is proposing effectively to kill future rooftop solar development in Utah through a trio of onerous fees. You’ll hear a LOT more about this campaign via email and meetings in the months to come — it’s a huge and critical battle — but for now, please take a moment (if you have not already) and click on the action alert we put out this week urging Governor Herbert to defend solar affordability. You can also sign a moveon petition put together by our friends at the Utah Solar Energy Association (It has more than 11,000 signatures!)

Second, and I want to spend more time on this in the email, I talked about the President-elect. The below is directly taken from my speech:

At the heart of the sadness and the shock which has been coursing through so many of our communities online and offline over the past ten days since the Nov. 8 election has been uncertainty. Fear! How do we push for change, try to make the world a better place, take on this climate change giant, when the President-elect of the United States is so firmly opposed to what we want to get done?

To that very important and not easy question a part of me responded, “Welcome to Utah!” Things are tough? The men in charge – yes, the men — aren’t much help? Welcome to Utah! 

We do need some time to mourn what could have been, but then let’s roll up our sleeves and get some stuff done.

Here’s how we take on Trump. By continuing to prioritize local work. By investing in the grassroots. By pushing from the bottom.

Let’s talk about climate change. This is, of course, the most depressing conversation when it comes to Trump and the environment. Yes, his attitudes are appalling as are his rumored appointments. But here’s the truth: Do you know how we’ve made progress on climate so far? Is it because Washington led? Nope.  Are we shutting down coal power plants because of who’s President? Nope.

The leaders on climate? States like California. Cities like Salt Lake City. And Burlington, Vermont. And nonprofit organizations and grassroots activists and frontline communities.Would it be nice to have Washington leading? Yup.

But if we have to wait a few short years until it does, that will mean we just keep on doing what we do. Pushing to shut down coal power plants. Pushing for renewable energy in Utah. Defending rooftop solar. Pushing for more energy efficient building codes. Pushing for electric vehicles. More of leading the fight from right here.

I hope that gives you a flavor of last night’s party. It was great. We even had a few laughs.

We’re in a tough moment right now. But — together — we’ll keep charging forward. It’s what we’ve always done.



Matt Pacenza

HEAL Utah Executive Director