A Few Thoughts on Fatherhood, Solar, and Sustainable Living

May 13, 2017
Eric Stikes family
Eric Stikes family

As of about a month ago, I have transitioned from being a father of two girls to a father of three! I now have three young fairy princess warriors running around my home, four if you count the wife! Indeed there are no damsels in distress at my house, waiting around for prince charming to save them. My girls are dragon slayers…with pink swords. But I digress.

My purpose in writing this post is to discuss how being a dad, specifically, one raising three young girls in today’s world, changes one’s perspective. Well, everyone is different, but for me, it means that I have put away my putter and the short game clubs and have started seriously playing the long game. Nearly every decision I now make is measured by its long-term benefits or impacts.

Should I spend that dollar or save it to get two in ten years? Will the food I serve my children today, though it may taste fantastic, make them healthier tomorrow? Or will it put them at risk for illnesses such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or worse, years down the road? Are the clothing, toys, furniture, and other household goods that we own, free from chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects? Wowzers, it’s hard to believe such things are sold on the market! I’m a young dad but I can still recall the “old days” when toys and furniture were made of wood, not plys, polymers, and plastics laden with BPAs, formaldehyde, and vinyl chlorides.

In many ways, we have exchanged our traditional, rustic struggles for modern technologies that provide, in addition to comfort and convenience, many opportunities to poison ourselves with unnatural compounds. My grandfather was a chemist at Dow for 30 years. Believe me, I understand the big picture, good and bad, about chemicals. But I digress…again.

At the end of the day, I feel that I can’t truly claim to be a responsible parent, teaching my kids about the “golden rule”, or family values, or reading, writing, and arithmetic, or why it’s important to clean up their room, if I act irresponsibly toward keeping my own room, which is now the world, clean and tidy.

Whenever my kiddos leave a mess behind, I ask them this one question: “What happens when you don’t clean up after yourself?”

I’ve asked that question enough times now that they finally know the right answer: “Someone else must clean up after you.” I would like to pose this same question to the majority of the world because I see it daily. We ask someone else to deal with our waste: we, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not, ask future generations to deal with the fallout of our generation’s irresponsible actions. This line of thinking leads me to ask myself almost daily, “What kind of world will my girls inherit?” Every single day, I have an opportunity to improve the odds that my little girls will enjoy a safe and clean world, with sociopolitical equal opportunity, and protection from oppression and violence. But how do these concepts translate to daily action? Well, I still think about making a good living as I did when I was single. But instead of worrying only about paying rent and student loans, I now consider whether or not my job will pay my mortgage and make the world better at the same time. Any professional development opportunity that I consider must be weighed by its inherent environmental impact.

My drive to protect and provide for my family, while making the world a better place for future generations is why I have positioned myself as a solar energy professional, and why there is no better company in which to put my skills to use than right here in Grass Valley at our local family-owned and operated Byers Enterprises.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ray Byers Jr. several years back at the Habitat for Humanity “blitz build” project off of Joyce Dr. in Grass Valley. At that time Byers wasn’t offering solar. But when they decided to diversify their client services and bring solar on board, I knew that this was the opportunity for which I had been waiting. Here was a chance to work locally, which means that, not only can I spend more time with my family instead of sitting in traffic and contributing to pollution and foreign oil conflicts,

I can actually walk to work and get some exercise while listening to knowledge building podcasts. Working locally also means that I can better support my local community, like when I walk to grab a sandwich at the local deli for lunch or buy some tools from my local hardware store. The opportunity at Byers also allows me to continue to promote clean, renewable power, addressing some of the foremost needs of our economy & our environment.

Most importantly, I am honored to be able to work at a company that was founded on and operates daily on the very same family values that I teach to my daughters. Although there are many values we here at Byers believe in and adhere to, for us everything starts with one, simple phrase: Do the right thing. I know that if I just remind myself of this simple principle and do what I know in my heart is right, regardless of political or monetary or social influences, I will always lead my girls down the right path.

Saving the world can be a daunting task but if we all take a lesson from the good people here at Byers, our kids will have a bright future ahead. This is how becoming a father has altered my perspective. It has become my biggest responsibility, my life mission, my sacred and divine duty to give my girls the swiftest, sharpest, and most importantly, the prettiest (right?) pink warrior swords possible, for they will indeed face many, many dragons out in the world.
-Eric Stikes