We’re gonna need more hats

I’m not usually one to take selfies, but this moment, sitting in the corner of a conference room at UCLA, felt important enough to commemorate — and not just because I was wearing my first blazer. It was because this was my first time wearing the hat.

Graham Marema

How one piece of headwear became a movement

Photo Credit: Graham Marema

I’m not usually one to take selfies, but this moment, sitting in the corner of a conference room at UCLA, felt important enough to commemorate — and not just because I was wearing my first blazer. It was because this was my first time wearing the hat.

What you don’t see in this photo is what was going on behind it — nearly 300 clean energy leaders from 26 states milling around that conference room for the Luskin Center’s “Summit on State and Local Progress to 100% Clean Energy.” Throughout the day, clean energy advocates, student organizers and elected officials shared victories on the path to an essential societal change — using 100 percent clean energy. It was a surreal feeling, looking around that conference room and seeing huddles of people trading success stories and strategizing on how we can spread that progress to every corner of the country.

And if you’d been standing in the corner of that conference room with me, you would have seen the same thing I did: a whole lot of navy blue ball caps with “100%” written in blocky yellow numbers on the front.

To me, that image is particularly poignant — because it all really started with a single hat, sitting on the head of one person.

Environment California’s State Director Dan Jacobson bought the first box of 100 percent ballcaps out of his own pocket several years ago. At the time, Hawaii was the only state in the country committed to using 100 percent clean energy, and Dan, along with Environment California, was determined to make California the second. Every morning for two years, Dan put on his ballcap and went to work lobbying the California legislature to pass a statewide 100 percent commitment.

Dan Jacobson wearing his famous hat at the Summit. Photo Credit: Anna Azarov Photography

As the navy blue of his cap began to fade, Dan and his allies rallied support, hosted lobby days and passed out hats to coalition members, legislators and anyone he could convince to wear one. Soon, the hats became a common sight around California’s state capitol. Dan still says he has a permanent ridge on his head from wearing the 100 percent ballcap all day, every day.

Last summer, after years of Dan, Environment California and their allies lobbying every single legislator in the capitol, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB100 into law.

When the bill passed, it was the strongest 100 percent clean energy commitment in the country.

But there was no rest for the hat after its victory in California. A few months later, Dan threw a bunch of the ballcaps into a box and shipped them to New Mexico, where the Environment New Mexico State Director Sanders Moore and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham each donned one after the governor signed the nation’s third statewide 100 percent commitment.

We saw the blue ballcap next in Washington state, sitting on the head of Gov. Jay Inslee, after he signed the fourth.

On left: Sanders Moore standing with Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham at the signing of New Mexico’s 100% commitment.
On right: Governor of Washington Jay Inslee donning the 100% hat after signing Washington’s 100% bill. Photo Credit: Ricky Osborne Photography.

Barely over a year after California’s victory, six states now have 100 percent clean energy commitments: Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Washington, Maine and New York (plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico). More than 150 cities have made similar commitments, and seven have already achieved their goals. While 100 percent clean energy seemed like a pipe dream a few years ago, the movement has now entered our national conversation. Dan’s faded blue ballcap, which has transformed into the many hats on the heads of people from all over the U.S. in these photos, is a beacon for this change. Each person wearing one is determined, like Dan, to keep working for a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Seeing these ballcaps all around that conference room at UCLA was a powerful visualization for how the 100 percent movement has picked up speed in such a short amount of time. But it was also a moment of realization that we have a long way to go. The point of this summit was to share the progress we’ve already attained — but we can’t just sit around and congratulate ourselves. As the momentum for 100 percent grows, it is the perfect and necessary moment to throw ourselves into the renewable energy transition and make 100 percent a reality everywhere.

I took this selfie in my ballcap and new blazer because I’m proud to be part of a movement that brought these people together from every part of the country to talk about bold solutions. And when I put the phone down, looking out from my corner of the conference room of advocates, organizers and leaders, I thought: We’re gonna need more hats.

I’m excited to see where they end up next.

From left to right: Sen. Kevin de León (CA); Marlene Esquivel, Sierra Club; Environment California State Director Dan Jacobson; Sen. Gael Tarleton (WA); Wendy Wendlandt; Sen. Emeritus Chuck Mcilhinney (PA); Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (NM); CALPIRG Executive Director Emily Rusch; Director of Frontier Group Susan Rakov; Photo Credit: Graham Marema


Graham Marema