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.

Arts & Culture $1200 Community Grants Open to Art Councils, Festivals & Events

ArtsCulturePhotoThe Office of Arts & Culture‘s Neighborhood & Community Arts program helps Seattle’s neighborhood arts councils and community-based groups produce festivals and events that enhance the visibility of neighborhoods, promote cultural participation, celebrate diversity and build community through arts and culture.

In 2014, the program provided $1,200 each to 42 organizations to support annual public festivals and events.

ELIGIBILITY

Neighborhood arts councils and community-based groups may seek support for a recurring festival or event that has been in existence for at least one year, has a significant arts and cultural component, is open to the public and takes place in Seattle. Applicants do not have to have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

FUNDING

Funded organizations will receive two (2) years of funding support (for events in 2015 and 2016) of $1,200 per year to support direct project expenses: artist fees, marketing and promotional fees, project management and personnel costs, supplies, equipment rentals or other production-related costs.

DEADLINE

The deadline for applicants is 11:00 pm, Wednesday, October 22, 2014, Pacific Daylight Time. To apply, click here and fill out the online application. 

There will be an information session on Wednesday, September 10, 6:30 to 7:30 pm at the
2100 Building, [mappress mapid=”538″], Seattle. Attend the session and pick up pointers on putting together an effective application. To reserve a seat, RSVP to Jenny Crooks, 206-684-7084, by Monday, September 8.

SoDo MakerSpace Opens August 9; Drop by Any Saturday to Preview Space & Tools

SoDoMakerSpaceLogoOn August 9 a new local resource will open in SoDo.  Eric Renn, Founder of the “Make It Locally” Educational Campaign, says their  15,000 square foot facility, SoDo MakerSpace, will be a community workshop with rapid prototyping tools and a place to make (just about) anything. The vision for the 15,000 square foot facility includes a community classroom and event space, a certified commercial kitchen, a co-working area, and a fabrication and entrepreneur incubator space in Seattle’s light industrial neighborhood.  Address fro SoDo MakerSpace is 1914 Occidental Ave South.  This is immediately east of the Krispy Kreme donut shop on First Avenue and is the long structure adjacent

A growing number of dedicated volunteers and generous donations have helped to build out the community maker space over the last three months with materials, machines and resources that would have otherwise headed to a neighboring landfill. Eric says they’ve never experienced such serendipitous encounters and happenstance from incubating an idea into reality.

Eric also says that they need your help! Please join them on any Saturday from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm for a tour and to volunteer with weekly projects. Simply show up – you’ll feel welcome as SoDo MakerSpace works to build out the community classroom. If you have something that you are passionate about and would like to teach to the local community, SoDo MakerSpace would love to hear about it. They can also discuss your next project idea and put it on the calendar!

Grand Opening of SoDo MakerSpace

So, drop by on August 9 for the opening.  Eric says that SoDo MakerSpace is excited to open their doors to the public on August 9th! Their main goal at SoDo MakerSpace is to empower a community of consumers to be
transformed into producers through the exposure and education of today’s fabrication technology. We are starting by building onto the foundation that has been established for STE(A)M education reform in a few of Seattle and South King county schools.  The West Seattle Tool Library is also collaborating with SoDo MakerSpace to have some of the oversize tools made available in SoDo.

Help Is Needed To Finish the MakerSpace Build-out

Each day SoDo MakerSpace is encouraged at the support they get to help get the workshop/entrepreneur incubator venture up and running. They also need help with administrative tasks, spreading the word through marketing efforts, making financial connections and teaming up with individuals and corporations that will continue to allow SoDo MakerSpace to move from concept to reality unusually fast. Eric says they would like to expand their space from the current 2,000 square foot classroom to the entire 15,000sqft warehouse in this Fall/Winter!

The SoDo MakerSpace group is highly motivated and has a diverse set of skills spread among the participants and volunteers. They are hoping to continue this collaboration of like-minded individuals. They are asking folks to reach out to their social and professional networks and to collaborate so this evolution can continue to thrive in Seattle’s many burgeoning neighborhoods.

If you can’t make it on the open-house Saturdays, contact Eric Renn directly at 206-423-9253 to schedule a tour, or contact Eric by email at eric@sodo.ms  Eric can further explain the vision and identify the many opportunities for collaboration.

[mappress mapid=”537″]

Seattle Trees for Neighborhoods: Get Up To 4 Free Trees for Yard or Parking Strip

trees for neighborhoods logoFree Trees for Your Home!

Trees for Neighborhoods helps Seattle residents plant trees around their home. Through the City of Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods program, Seattle residents have planted over 4,000 trees since 2009. That’s 4,000 more trees that help clean our air and water, make our streets more walkable, and our neighborhoods safer and healthier. Join the movement this year—plant a tree and help grow Seattle’s urban forest!

The 2014 application season kicks off on Monday, August 4th at 10:00 am. Seattle residents are eligible to apply for up to four free trees to plant in their yards and within their planting strips. Residents who participate also receive free watering bags, training on proper tree planting and care, and workshop opportunities. This year, the program is offering 12 tree species ranging from large native conifers to small deciduous trees appropriate for planting under power lines and along the street. Some favorites this year include Douglas fir, black tupelo, and incense cedar. Check out the complete list and see photos at our website here: http://www.seattle.gov/trees/availabletrees2014.html.

Trees4NeighborhoodsReady to plant a tree? Visit www.seattle.gov/trees for a list of this year’s tree species and a link to the online application, which opens Monday, August 4th. Trees go very quickly, so mark your calendar and apply early!

All questions about the program should be directed to TreesforNeighborhoods@seattle.gov or 206-684-3979. Katie Gibbons is the Seattle reLeaf Project Manager doe Seattle Public Utilities,  Contact her at Katie.Gibbons@Seattle.gov or at the number above.

Get Your Bike Tuned Under WS Bridge Thursday During Evening Commute

bike under ws bridgeBicycle commuters coming home from work this Thursday evening August 7th may find a surprise under the West Seattle Bridge.

The West Seattle Tool Library’s Fixers Collective and DIY Bikes will be doing their monthly workshop under the West Seattle Bridge.

“It’s been a long summer so far and many of our daily bicycle commuters have not found the time to work on their bicycles or take them into a local shop. We are coming to the riders to make ourselves more available,” Stu Hennessey said. Stu is owner of Alki Bike and Board, founder of DIY Bikes, and a Sustainable West Seattle board member.

The West Seattle Tool Library and DIY Bikes are projects of Sustainable West Seattle.

Delridge Grocery Coop Launches Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Farmstand

DelridgeGroceryWebLogoThe Delridge Grocery Coop has exciting news to announce: The Friday Farmstand launches this week!

Finally – fresh, local, sustainable fruits and vegetables in Delridge.

Come by every Friday all summer from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm at 5435 Delridge Way SW.  This is two doors south of the library, and across the street from Delridge Grocery Coop’s future full-service grocery location.

Celebrate the launch this Friday, July 18th, with free lemonade at the farmstand, and a fun comedy event afterwards from 8-12 at the Skylark Cafe.

  • Want to be more involved? 
  • Volunteer and take home free produce!

Help run the produce stand and take home some leftovers! It’s easy and fun, and we’ll provide training.

Sign up for volunteer shifts online

Join the Canning Club!

Do you like canning pickles and jams to save for the winter? Join Friday Farmstand Canning Club and get first crack and discount prices on bulk quantities of leftover produce!

To sign up, email Farmstand Manager Ariana at taylorstanley@gmail.com with your name and phone number. You must be available to pick-up produce after the farmstand, at 7:30 pm on Fridays.

Need a lesson in canning? Check out offerings from Seattle Tilth or Delridge’s own Little Red Hen Project.

Help the Delridge Grocery Coop Spread the word!

They need lots of word-of-mouth marketing to make this farmstand a success! How you can help:

For more information contact Ariana Taylor-Stanley, Farmstand Manager, at 206-660-8958, or by email at

taylorstanley@gmail.com.

1st Phase of Westwood, Sunrise Heights Roadside Rain Garden Nearly Complete

raingarden mapKing County Wastewater Division  announces that their 2014 Roadside Rain Garden construction program in Sunrise Heights and Westwood is nearly complete. Construction  will begin begin on two new streets in late June.

King County’s work to build roadside rain gardens on seven streets in Sunrise Heights and Westwood is will finish ahead of schedule. The deep wells on the 15 streets planned to have roadside rain gardens are also complete.

To finish the project more quickly, crews will start work on two blocks scheduled for construction in 2015 (see red circles on map) later this month. Working ahead of schedule will return 34th Avenue SW to traffic this fall and reduce what is left to be done next year.

King County will continue to work closely with neighbors affected by the project in advance of any new work.

What’s left to do this year?

  • Finish roadside rain gardens on 31st Ave. SW between SW Othello St. and SW Elmgrove St.
  • Construct roadside rain gardens on SW Kenyon St. between 34th Ave. SW and 32nd Ave SW.
  • Remove all the bright yellow bollards protecting the deep wells (to be completed by the end of June).
  • Relocate utilities and construct roadside rain gardens on 34th Ave. SW between SW Thistle St. and SW Trenton St. (begins in late June).
  • Protect all of this year’s roadside rain gardens with orange fencing while plants grow for two months.
  • Possibly move all the water and sewer lines on remaining 2015 streets later this summer.
  • After plants are established, crews will test the rain gardens to make sure they work. Then they will be open for business!
  • Monitor and maintain roadside rain gardens into the future

For more information, contact Kristine Cramer at King C0unty Wasterwater at 206-477-5415, or

cell 206-255-7089, or email at Kristine.Cramer@kingcounty.gov, or check out their website http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/wtd.aspx