My name is Chris Torres, and I am one of the newest Board of Directors members at Minneapolis
Climate Action (MCA). I am a graduate student in the Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership
(MAPL) program at Metro State, and an alum of the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project. I am
also an ardent bicycle commuter and the Warehouse Coordinator for Free Bikes 4 Kidz MN. I’m a big
believer in promoting bicycles as a legitimate form of transportation to combat climate change. As the
great Bill Nye once said, “There’s no machine known that is more efficient than a human on a bicycle.
Bowl of oatmeal, 30 miles — you can’t come close to that.”
My interest in climate advocacy might be traced back to my first camping trip with my dad, or
the environmental science class I took in high school, but I think I started taking it seriously while
working on the U of M Solar Vehicle Project. We were a group of undergraduate students proving to the
world that we could make a two-passenger vehicle powered entirely by the sun. I raced with the team at
the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a five-day endurance race across the Australian outback.
We placed 5 th in the world in our vehicle class. It gave me the opportunity to be a clean energy advocate
on a global stage. I have since turned away from the engineering world, but my passion for this work
hasn’t changed. Now that I’m pursuing my MAPL degree, I plan to use it to pursue a career in climate
justice and the clean energy transition.
I found Minneapolis Climate Action while researching community solar projects for one of my
classes. I was designing a communication and organizing campaign plan for a community solar model
that was catered to renters in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Naturally, Minneapolis Climate Action’s solar
gardens showed up in my research. At the end of the semester, I emailed Kyle Samejima, Executive
Director of MCA, and asked if there was any way I could help support Minneapolis Climate Action. The
rest is history!
I’ve lived in Minneapolis for 10 years as a student, a renter, and finally a homeowner. I’ve felt
the pressure to go solar, but I haven’t had the money to do it. I also believe that the clean energy
transition is taking so long because we’re waiting for big energy companies that only care about profit to
drive the change. Change isn’t a priority for them; they like things the way they are. MCA’s community
solar project is special – it’s solar energy by the people, for the people. We are involving our subscribers
in every step of this process, and giving them every opportunity to make this their own. Our dream is to
have the neighborhoods own the clean energy infrastructure, as well as the benefits that come with it.
We’re bringing solar energy to low- and middle-income folks, and people that have been left out of the
solar revolution up to this point. For Minneapolis Climate Action, equity comes first.