Entry without preview image

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem.

  1. Nulla consequat massa quis enim.
  2. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu.
  3. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo.

Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus.

Read more

Green Go Solar Teaching Rural Baja To Make Solar Panels, Helping Out After Hurricane Odile, Could Use Funds Help

BajaCrewWorkingThe Green Go Solar project is helping out in Baja, Mexico.  Many residents of rural Baja have no or very limited access to electricity and Green Go Solar has been working to change this.

Baja has a tremendous solar resource yet solar panels can be overly expensive and distant for many. This keeps solar technology out of financial/logistical reach for many, leaving them without access to electricity. Many residents of the outlying fishing and ranching communities have resigned to living completely without power.

In addition, hurricane Odile ravaged the Baja peninsula on September 14th and 15th of this year. As a category 3 hurricane, it blew 140 mph winds and dropped some 14 inches of rain in places causing widespread and dangerous flooding. It was the strongest hurricane to hit Baja peninsula in the satellite era. It left thousands homeless and desperate in its wake. This will increase the gap in access to electricity for years.

An organization is trying to change this situation by empowering local communities to create or rebuild their own renewable power in Baja, Mexico with affordable DIY solar panels.

inside GreenGoSolar trailerThe Green Go Solar Project teaches people how to build their own solar panels, mostly from everyday household materials.  The hands-on teaching process provides education in the basics of solar/photovoltaic technology for residents and visitors alike. The organization is demonstrating that solar is a viable and affordable alternative to running a generator or burning tires, with the end-goal of providing locally built electric power to people without light.

The project was founded in 2008 by Keith Bonarrigo soon after he arrived in San Juanico, Baja Sur, Mexico.  Keith is a surfer and was drawn by the legendary wave in “Scorpion Bay” (as it known amongst surfers). Upon arrival he was captured by the local culture and geographic beauty.  He also recognized the notable need for accessible and affordable power, and began to strategize a way to bring this technology to the area.

Green Go Solar is also trying to raise funds to provide more storm area workshop material, to help repair the pickup vehicle they use, to get more tools for the workshop students, and to provide a more sustainable local bathroom.  You can help by contributing at their IndeGoGo funding site.

cosmetic issue solar panel

Solar Cell Solution

The solution lay in what could be considered a waste product of the solar industry; all cells used in these workshops are cosmetic rejects from the solar cell production process. The solar cell fabrication process produces perfectly functional but cosmetically imperfect solar cells which are not used in retail-grade panels. These cells are sometimes destroyed or broken down at the factory, consuming time, energy, and resources. When the cosmetic defect in question is slight, the cells can also be purchased in bulk for pennies on the dollar. The project acquires and imports these B/C-grade solar cells and puts them to work.  The solar cells are used as a vocational resource to illustrate basic electric principles critical to the design, construction, maintenance, and expansion of any solar system of any size.

Solar panel prototypes were built using this material and methodology. They were installed for field testing, leading to the evolution of their concept and designs over time. The panels lasted, proving themselves to be functional over a period of years, and the process has led to further improvements in both methods and materials.

working on panel

Workshop Approach

Workshop students test the electrical integrity of these solar cells and then connect them together into strings for a larger, pre-calculated electrical output. Students are taught construction methods to create custom housing structures to protect the contents from the harsh Baja environment. They ultimately assembled  all this to comprise a fully-functional solar panel.  Teaching methods put an emphasis on the re-use of regular household materials for panel construction to reduce the amount of material going into landfills, and to generally encourage the idea of recycling.

The methods, materials, and tools employed by the group are specifically tailored to meet local challenges.  Everything needed for a DIY solar panel is within the economic and physical reach of any resident of this remote area.  The most common panel construction method used in the workshops results in a solar panel that produces about 80-90 watts of power for roughly 650 pesos (+-$50 U.S. dollars) of solar material. This same amount of solar power in a commercially manufactured panel is currently available for roughly 6500 pesos ($350 dollars) in the nearest outlet, the B.C.S. capital of La Paz, located about 6 hours away from the project’s base. Solar workshops are conducted based on the working schedules of local people, as fisherman and ranchers can have quite varied day-to-day routines – oftentimes based on environmental factors like tides or rain. Workshops are scheduled based on these factors and communal feedback in an attempt to run during downtime in many local’s lives. This enables workshop students to keep lost potential work time to a minimum, which allows them to keep their family finances working.

Green Go Solar panelTrained Students Have Solar Skills

Upon completion of the workshop, all solar students are provided with solar cells, wire, and a diode to build their own solar panel. The workshop usually takes 1-2 days, including hands-on instruction in solar system design and sizing as well as battery maintenance.

After the initial panel build, the workshop group normally identifies a family, business or institution in need.  A modest solar system is designed for the site selected, based on their estimated energy consumption.  The system is installed and the panel is put to work, creating renewable power for the local community, and a practical demonstration of DIY solar at work.

The group has built and maintains a base vocational facility known as “el Rancho Solar” which they open to the public to learn to build and run solar power. A renovated Airstream trailer serves as the workspace for the workshops themselves, as well as a tool library. The doors are open for general public interface for any kind of guidance/advice to help solar students succeed.

Since the inception of the project, the success rate has been high and local interest has grown rapidly. Interest from surrounding areas has spawned the development of a mobile workshop program where the material and methods are brought to surrounding areas and taught there.

Baja gangIn addition to the solar experience, students of the project are encouraged to enjoy the incredible natural playground that Baja has to offer:

San Juanico Is Beautiful

San Juanico is nestled between the beautiful Pacific coast and the rugged San Pedro Mountains on the Baja California peninsula.  Its remote location has kept this a slow-paced fishing village, which continues to offer an escape in a tranquil setting. The town sits on a pristine bay with a rich and vibrant marine ecosystem.  It has long been known by surfers as the legendary “Scorpion Bay” for its incredible point breaks.  This location provides one of the best waves to learn to surf on in the world, excellent fishing, snorkeling, tide-pooling, and a vast desert expanse which makes for miles and miles of wide-open ATV/moto touring.  Nearby Laguna San Ignacio offers up-close whale watching experiences unlike any other (and has served as another test-base for the solar project). The project encourages and emphasizes responsible appreciation of the surrounding environment so it can continue to serve as a constant reminder of the benefits of preserving these beautiful natural resources.

Surfboards, fishing/snorkeling gear, and motorcycles/ATVs can be made available for solar students through the Green Go Solar Project’s workshop facility, known as “El Rancho Solar” or available for daily/hourly rental at the nearby Burro En Primavera restaurant and bar.

There are several options for accommodations in San Juanico, ranging from free beach camping or trailers at the project workshop facility to affordable local hotels/casitas and local rooms/houses for rent.

Please see http://greengosolar.org for more information on the organization, accommodations, and upcoming workshop/events schedule.

Keith Bonarrigo and student in front of Baja work trailer.

Keith Bonarrigo and student in front of Baja work trailer.

Pathfinder K-8 School Has New 2500-gallon Cistern for Earth Project Garden

pathfinder cistern

Sustainable West Seattle is excited to announce the completion of a new 2500-gallon rainwater harvesting system at Pathfinder K-8 school that will be used to irrigate its  extensive school garden.  SWS was a significant part of this project, donating volunteer labor through school parent Bill Reiswig and through a small grant from SWS’s storm water project Tox-ick.org.

The newly-installed system harvests rainwater that falls on the metal roof of the school and stores it for future use.  It has a 50+ gallon first-flush feature that removes potential pollutants from the water, and features an irrigation line that runs to a conveniently located hose-bib.  The system is gravity-pressurized at this time, but could be modified in the future with a solar-powered pump.

The rainwater system is an essential piece in the growing Pathfinder school garden.  The garden is designed with ecological principles and this system reflects that.   Water harvested from the roof diverts stormwater from the City of Seattle’s sewer system, saves money and uses local water rather than water moved from a great distance.  Water harvested in the winter and spring by this system can water vegetables grown in Seattle’s dry summers.  The rainwater system represents a great learning opportunity for students in understanding our water cycle, the mathematics of rate and flow, and the ecological principles involved.

This system reflects the work of teachers, parents, and students thru Pathfinders Pathfinder’s K-8 “Earth Project”.  The Earth Project  is a collaboration between local non-profit Nature Consortium and Pathfinder teachers, parents, and greater community.

Bill Reiswig, Bruce Hostedder and Patrick Loderhose (both of EarthSystems NW) by the cistern they installed at Pathfinder School.

Bill Reiswig, Bruce Hostedder and Patrick Loderhose (both of EarthSystems NW) by the cistern they installed at Pathfinder School.

The project was funded through small garden and water grants from BECU, Whole Foods, and from local non-profit Sustainable West Seattle and it’s Tox-ick stormwater project.

The system was designed and installed by EarthSystems NW, who offer innovative and economical ideas for conserving and harnessing our most vital resource: water.

Bill Reiswig, Bruce Hostedder and Patrick Loderhose (both ESNW) installed the sytem in 5 days of work during the past couple of weeks.  It is being recieved with excitement by the school, students and teachers.

Seattle Parks Offers Challenge Course Facilitator Training @ Camp Long

camplong_upsidedownSeattle Parks to offer ‘challenge course’ facilitator training at Camp Long

Seattle Parks and Recreation worked with Washington State University Extension 4-H to build a “challenge course” in the trees in West Seattle’s Camp Long. This fall, interested members of the public are invited to join other educators and counselors in learning how to use adventure education to promote team building and personal development in their communities.

The introduction to facilitator training takes place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 18-19, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. The cost is $160. The low course facilitator training takes place Wednesday evenings, Oct. 22 and 29, 5 to 9 pm. and Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 1-2, 8:30 am. to 5:00 pm. The cost is $240. The high course facilitator training takes place Friday through Sunday, Nov. 14-16, 8:30 am. to 5:00 pm. The cost is $240. The training location is 5200 35th Ave SW at Camp Long in West Seattle. Camping is available during the training.

After successful completion of the training, participants will be able to facilitate events at the Camp Long challenge course. The course is designed to meet the 4-H certification requirements to host and facilitate group activities at Camp Long. Certified facilitators receive reduced rates when bringing their own groups. The trainings are designed to sequence together.

At the Camp Long course, several elements of the ropes course are integrated into the forested areas. WSU 4–H, through 30 years of adventure education experience, has developed curricula that strengthen critical life skills including decision making, self-confidence, positive risk taking, self-esteem, teamwork, and leadership.

For more information and to sign up for the challenge course training, please contact Challenge Course Manager Ken Turner at 206-684-7434 or keno.turner@seattle.gov.

Camp Long is one of Seattle’s best kept secrets. Located in West Seattle, this 68-acre oasis in the city offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy nature, hike in the forest, camp overnight in rustic cabins, rock climb, learn about natural history, and visit or rent the rustic Lodge. For more information, see http://www.seattle.gov/parks/environment/camplong.htm.


Washington Environmental Council Initiates Petition Drive for Change

WEClogoThe Washington Environmental Council has initiated a petition gathering effort in the state to support change.  According to WEC, the climate movement in the Pacific Northwest is growing faster than ever, just last week, Oregon denied a key permit for a proposed coal export terminal, a big success for the health of the PNW. And this weekend, September 2o, is the largest rally for climate ever in New York City, with hundreds of solidarity events happening around the nation with many in Washington.

To build on this momentum, Washington Environmental Council announced the launch of their petition gathering effort.  WEC says our legislators need to see the energy and hear the calls for climate action in Washington, sothey are working to collect 50,000 signatures from citizens across Washington state. With your help, Governor Inslee and our legislators will see the support and hear the strong call to action that our communities want.

Go to their web and sign up or use their templates to send email to your legislators.

  1. Schedule an email to your Washington members for next week, Sept 22 – Sept 26.
  2. Choose an email template and adapt/personalize it if you’d like to incorporate more of your organization’s voice. WEC encourages you to use the first version which builds off the energy from this weekend’s climate march.

Learn Sustainable Garden & Water Management Practices @ UW Botanic Center Classes

UW Botanic GardenLandscape for Life™ demystifies sustainability for home gardeners

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is hosting four Thursday evening classes on sustainable garden practices and water management.  The classes are on Thursday, September 25  through October 16, and start at 6:30 pm and end at 9:00 pm.

Are you a homeowner who wants to create and maintain your own healthy, sustainable landscape? Through instructor-led presentations, class discussions, and activities, you will deepen your understanding of how to get the most out of water in your garden, how to build healthy soils with minimal outside inputs, how to use native and climate-adapted plants for the Pacific Northwest, and how to find the most environmentally-friendly landscape materials. Students will analyze their own home landscape focusing on soils, water, plants, and use of materials. Landscape for LifeTM was developed by the US Botanical Garden and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center to the University of Texas in Austin.

There is a cost, $125 before September 19, and $150 after. You can Register Online or call 206-685-8033 to register.

The classes will be taught by instructor Barbara DeCaro, a horticulturist working for Seattle Parks and Recreation. She develops best practices for managing public landscapes and provides training programs in landscape management for parks staff. She is a certified Instructor for Landscape for LifeTM and also develops teaching materials and provides instruction for the landscape industry in the ecoPRO – Sustainable Landscape Professional Program. Barbara is a life-long gardener and life-long learner, with over 40 years working in public gardens and landscapes.[mappress mapid=”539″]