Photo of Ted CaseYou may have noticed this month’s Ruralite feature story has a different look and tone. We are not writing about the future of the Lower Snake River dams or industry updates, but rather the unlikely friendship between two women in the energy field: Britni Davidson, who works with me at Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association; and Alessia Shapovalova, a climate change expert in war-torn Ukraine.

Historically, stories of friendship and personal connections have not taken up a lot of column inches in this publication. We have focused more on energy policy or the latest technology than people.

Perhaps that should change. Sometimes, we need a reminder that the heart of the electric cooperative movement is not the latest drone technology to patrol our lines. It is the amazing people we meet and befriend along the way.

That is what makes the story of Alessia so compelling. She came to Salem Electric a few years ago and, with Britni as her mentor, immersed herself in the cooperative way. After making some lifelong friends, she enthusiastically returned to Ukraine to implement what she learned about renewable energy.

With Russia’s invasion of her country, all her dreams and those of her fellow Ukrainians are at risk. It makes me want to count my blessings.

Yes, we have problems in this country, but no invading army is lobbing missiles at helpless children and forcing millions to leave their homes. Ironically, the travesty of Russia’s invasion seems to be one thing most Americans can agree on—no easy feat in a nation where we seem at war with ourselves in the political arena.

Alessia’s story not only puts a human face on a conflict more than 5,000 miles from home, it inspires us to focus this publication less on dams and drones, and more on the incredible people we have met along the way.

Ted Case
Executive Director