Home>The Latest>Personalizing Learning Through Zines: CEED’s Popular Education Curriculum on The Inflation Reduction Act

Personalizing Learning Through Zines: CEED’s Popular Education Curriculum on The Inflation Reduction Act

By Natalya Arevalo, Apr 24, 2024

CEED develops popular education materials and conducts community education workshops and trainings that position communities to share stories and experiences that address injustice to advance advocacy and liberation. In the practice and implementation of our popular education, there is no rigid separation between teacher and student, lecturer and learner, me and you – all of us are participants and learners and can help facilitate learning and motivation for others. Popular education methods are derived from the work of Paolo Freire and have a long history of use in social movements.

As CEED develops new popular education curricula, we look to our communities and partners for guidance on what are the critical conversations and decisions that are impacting our livelihoods. The historic but complicated Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is vital for community members around the country to understand, but the effort to expand its reach and understanding in everyday conversations has been a challenge. In an effort to create an accessible understanding of the IRA, we decided to develop a lesson plan and zines to outline exactly what the IRA is, how to benefit from it, and why it is important.

What is the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)?

IRA passed in late 2022, was an effort by Congress to overhaul outdated U.S. infrastructure. The law makes important investments to create safe, family-sustaining jobs, lower energy costs, and make our neighborhoods safer from intensifying fires, floods and pollution.  These programs have the potential to transform communities – from reducing toxic air pollution, to creating green spaces, to providing clean drinking water. These are also critical investments to advance the administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to direct 40% of climate investment benefits to disadvantaged communities and is a step towards ensuring environmental justice for all. 

Along with critical environmental justice investments, the law also included several provisions that may embed harmful impacts in environmental justice communities for decades to come. These provisions include but are not limited to: a 10-year clean hydrogen production tax credit, an increase in 45 Q tax credit for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and requiring the sale of previously canceled oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Cook Inlet, Alaska. 

What are the tangible benefits within the IRA that directly pertain to me?

The IRA’s long-term goal is to reduce pollution, but how can this be achieved? We access the program funding and invest in our homes and communities!

For community members/households, the IRA includes billions of dollars in funding for Home Energy Rebate Programs and tax credits to support households in making energy efficient improvements. This is an opportunity to invest in your home (comfort, and safety) and get money back, as well as lessen your monthly energy bills and household emissions. 

For local governments, nonprofits, and other tax-exempt entities, the IRA includes many new incentives and funding opportunities in the forms of tax credits, direct pay, and grants for clean-energy projects and upgrades.

It is essential that the administration commits to robust implementation and oversight of the IRA spending to ensure that all clean-energy resources reach the communities most in need of new investment. The more individuals and entities aware of these opportunities to invest in their homes and communities, the more likely we are to reach the end goal of reducing pollution [via energy efficiency and community-wide projects and upgrades]. 

How can we hold our local government accountable, as well as organizations and other entities with staffing, power, and ability to access and push forward the needs of our communities?

Engage in learning about the IRA and why it matters to define our needs to bring to our local representatives and community-based organizations by reading CEED’s zines, participating in CEED’s IRA workshops, and more!

Other ways include:

  1. Demand participation and implementation of rebate programs:
  2. While states have been allocated Federal funding to implement the Home Energy Rebate Programs, states can choose not to apply and participate in the program. We can contact our State Energy Office to find out if your state will be applying for (or has already applied for) funding, and to communicate why this funding would benefit your community. 
  3. Participate (and encourage participation) in community engagement opportunities held by your local government
    1. States are required to host at least one public input session to gather community feedback on their plans for deploying the rebate programs (e.g outreach methods, utility partners, etc.) and describe how the state will continue to gather and respond to community feedback throughout the duration of the rebate programs to ensure an accessible and relevant program for community members. Community-based organizations and community members can use this opportunity to learn more about how their state will be implementing these programs and provide the necessary feedback to ensure their communities are actually benefiting from these programs.
What tools does CEED have for learning more about and engaging with the IRA?

At CEED we have just completed our new IRA curriculum for engaging organizations and community members on IRA opportunities! This includes:

  • Minnesota IRA zines for 1) Community Members and 2) Nonprofits. These are the first of five state specific IRA zines – so stay tuned for additional states!
  • IRA Facilitation Guide for training opportunities or community workshops, meant to help us better understand the long-term and big-picture impacts that the IRA can have in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and states. 

The goal is that this new curriculum can serve as an accessible resource for community members and partners on how to access IRA funds and make tangible changes in one’s home and/or community. 

Please feel free to download and share these materials with your wider networks throughout the state, plug them into your newsletters, and/or share on social media!

If you are interested in learning more about CEED’s curriculum offerings and partnerships, please don’t hesitate to contact me (narevalo@ceed.org), or check out our Popular Education Flyer for more information. 

If you haven’t already, subscribe to CEED’s newsletter, where we highlight new curriculum every month!

Interview with Eh Soe Dwe

I have been collaborating with artist Eh Soe Dwe (@ehsoeart on Instagram) since November, fine-tuning the anticipated release of CEED’s Minnesota IRA zines for 1) Community Members and 2) Nonprofits. These zines are a part of CEED’s [new!] Federal Policy Series curriculum, and are all about accessing IRA funds and really visualizing the impacts that are brought forth through investments and projects done in our homes and communities.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your work (both independently and with CEED)?

My name is Eh Soe (Es-Oh) and I am an illustrator and storyteller based in the Twin Cities. My primary medium is digital drawing, where most, if not all, of my work with CEED has been created. Through CEED, I had the opportunity to illustrate info sheets on identifying signs of extreme weather events and what to pack in a climate emergency kit, a nature-based coloring book, and even print my first comic on climate resilience! Outside of CEED, I enjoy painting outdoor murals and creating comics and short stories shared on my instagram page. In my artwork, I explore themes of culture, identity, and emotions—all things that are important to my personal and creative development. Aside from making art, I appreciate long walks, live music, and trying new restaurants/cafes with friends.

What does environmental justice mean to you, and why did this project appeal to you?

Environmental justice is a basic human right. It’s about agency, place, and care which directly impact the sustainability of our environment. This project is a form of environmental justice because it provides equitable and accessible resources for the community. I knew this project was important and necessary, and such a cool way of showing such a systematic process in a more accessible, learner-friendly way. 

How do you define a zine, and what impacts can a zine have in learning and advocacy?

Zines are a medium of communication; they are resourceful and easy to distribute to the public. Dating back to the early 1930s when the first zine was created, they are historically known as a vessel for activism, free speech, and meaningful narratives, particularly for those on the margins. It has become even more versatile and expansive in its content, ranging from topics of arts and music to politics and environmentalism. It is extremely effective and useful for getting information out there in a simple yet important way. 

The IRA is a historic, yet complicated law with loads of information. What was the process like in developing the Minnesota IRA zines — taking something so systematic and complex, and turning it into something visually appealing? 

It was definitely a challenge at first because of the information overload. There were many terms I was unfamiliar with, so I really appreciated Natalya and Ansha for breaking it down and answering all my questions. I can see how all this information can deter someone from fully diving in; it’s complex and requires technical steps that can be frustrating to figure out on your own. I created the zines in a way that I believe would be less daunting and more attainable to process. I know that if I were reading any textbook, I would appreciate any sort of visual aid to help me understand a concept, so why not create a similar tool to better understand IRA and more importantly, access it?  

Where did you draw inspiration when creating these zines?

My main inspiration for creating these zines were from direct conversations I’ve had with friends regarding sustainable living. The characters are loosely based on real people I’ve encountered. The decision to create a zine (vs. a poster or brochure) was based on its small size and interactive nature. Readers will have to fold them and color them as they wish. Zines may be small, but they are filled with important resources that you can take with you wherever you go! 

How do you think that these IRA zines will inform communities on the IRA funds and benefits? Why do you think this is important information to share? 

IRA zines are an effort to make information on IRA funds and benefits more accessible and easy to understand. Instead of going through pages of long descriptive paragraphs, the illustrations and simplified texts serve as a guide for readers to learn something important while following a story that they can relate and apply to. 

What other projects are you currently working on?

Currently, I am in the process of illustrating a children’s book. It’s a lovely story about how friendship transcends across culture and physical distance.  It’s my first time working with an author so I’m learning a lot about the whole publishing process. I’m excited to see how young (and older) readers will like the book!

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