Monday, June 29, 2020

Outdoor Wood Boiler Lives Matter. Really?

A recent eamil from Warren Walborn,
CEO out OutdoorBoiler.com
Eighty-four percent of homes that heat with wood in the United States are occupied by Anglo-Saxon families, and only 6% are Black, according to a survey commissioned by HPBA several years ago.  That also may reflect about the same percent of Blacks who attend the annual HPBA Expo. Sometimes I wonder what its like to be a person who is Black at the Expo.  I suspect that we are mostly professional, and put aside attitudes about Obama or Trump or race issues and focus on the products on display.  But as a person who is white, I don't know for sure.

A few weeks ago I got an email from Warren Walborn, titled "Outdoor Wood Boiler Lives Matter" belittling the very real issues facing the Black community today.  Warren is the CEO of OutdoorBoiler.com which used to be Hawken Energy, a Minnesota company that sells products to extend the life of outdoor wood boilers.  This is no time to mock the undeniable statistics showing that on average, Black people are more likely to die in encounters with police.

Currently, about 6% of Black homes
have wood stoves, according to one
survey.  Before integration, more Black
homes in parts of the south heated with
wood than white homes.
We are also living in a time of reckoning with environmental- justice issues.  Refineries and other polluting parts of the fossil fuel infrastructure are more likely to be situated near lower income, non-white communities. As statues come down and the world changes around us, many of us wonder, where will this end?  Will it go too far? Will it go far enough?

I would be proud if one of the trade associations I belong to, the HPBA, would also ban the confederate flag from its annual expo, as NASCAR did.  The Expo should remain a place that is welcoming for all races that coexist in our country, and of all races that want to enjoy hearth products.  I never remember seeing a confederate flag at an Expo but Expos are now held exclusively in the deep south - New Orleans, Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas.  HPBA could be proactive and set a standard of tolerance for all.

The backlash against police voilence in the United States is reverberating around the world, and prodding all of us to think more seriously about it and be part of positive change.  That starts with speaking out about issues in our professional lives that we care about.

John Ackerly
President, AGH
jackerly@forgreenheat.org

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