Category Archives: solar air heaters

Photo of the Week: Solar Heating for Rural Native American Families

solar air heater Pine Ridge Reservation

About this photo

Henry Red Cloud, Tribal Renewable Energy Program partner and owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, stands with Joe Yellow Hawk, an Oglala Lakota who lives near Kyle on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Yesterday, Henry and seven trainees from three different tribes (Crow Creek, Eastern Shoshone, and Navajo) installed a new solar air heater for Joe and his family as part of a 5-day training.

Joe’s family is currently dependent on wood and very expensive propane to heat their home. This new solar heater will harness the power of the sun to heat the families’ home, saving 30-40% on heating expenses every month for the next 20 years!

To learn more about the Tribal Renewable Energy Program and our solar heating systems please visit our website.

 

Studies Abroad for Global Education (SAGE) Offsets Student Travel

SAGE logo

Studies Abroad for Global Education (SAGE) is one of those organizations that stands out among the pack!  SAGE not only provides high-quality study abroad programs to youth and educators, they also take great care in running a sustainable travel business that respects Mother Earth.

SAGE and Trees, Water & People (TWP) have partnered in several capacities over the years, including leading a volunteer work trip to Honduras in 2011. Now, as part of SAGE’s commitment to sustainable and responsible travel, all of SAGE’s students have the ability to offset their travel carbon footprint. For every offset made, SAGE matches it dollar-for-dollar through TWP’s Carbon Offset Program!

To date, SAGE has matched 298.5 tons of carbon offsets, supporting the construction of solar air heating systems on Native American reservations of the U.S. that greatly reduce heating bills for families in need while reducing green house gas emissions that lead to climate change. Thanks to SAGE, we are able to help communities reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and make the transition towards clean, renewable alternatives like solar.

To learn more about SAGE and their sustainability initiatives please visit http://www.sageprogram.org/about/sustainability

solar heating system

A solar heating system is installed on a new straw bale home at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota Tribe.

Tribal Renewable Energy Program: 2012 Impact

Trees, Water & People’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program puts the power of nature — the warmth of the sun, the power of the wind, the shelter of trees — to work for Native Americans. Working with reservation communities, TWP builds and installs supplemental solar air heaters for families in need and provides green job training to tribes around the country. These solutions are sustainable, economically beneficial, environmentally friendly, and celebrate the Native Americans’ respect for Mother Earth.

In 2012, we were able to make a big impact on the tribal lands where we work. Thanks to our generous supporters, more than 600 people are staying warm this winter with solar air heating systems. In addition, we are training more “Solar Warriors” who now have the knowledge to build and install solar heating systems within their reservation communities, helping to spread renewable energy throughout the tribal lands of the U.S.

Tribal Renewable Energy Program Impact 2012

Photo of the Week: Building Solar Panels on Tribal Lands

Staff of Lakota Solar Enterprises, TWP's Tribal Program Partner, work together to build solar panels for solar heating systems that will be installed on homes.

Staff of Lakota Solar Enterprises, TWP’s Tribal Program Partner, work together to build solar panels for solar heating systems that will be installed on the homes of Native American families.

Photo of the Week: Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center

A quite day at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center...gearing up for the next order of solar heaters for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe!

A quite day at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center…gearing up for the next order of solar heaters for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe!

Notes from the Field: Solar Warriors Bring Heat to Eastern Shoshone

by Lacey Gaechter, National Director

Lacey Gaechter visits with “Solar Technician 1″ Trainees and Henry Red Cloud (left) at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe’s 477 Employment and Training Program sent three Solar Warriors to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center at the end of October to be trained on building and installing solar heaters. In addition, the tribe purchased 25 solar air heaters from our partner, Lakota Solar Enterprises. The mission of the 477 Program is to help unemployed tribal members find work that benefits the entire community. In this case, the tribe is not only employing these three Solar Warriors, but also providing clean, free heat for 25 elderly and disabled Eastern Shoshone living on the Wind River Reservation.

Congrats, Solar Warriors!

Henry Red Cloud, Trees, Water & People’s partner in operating the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, spent last week in Fort Washakie, WY, conducting site visits with the students. I got to the reservation just in time to shake the hands of these new green job recipients, Chris Tiger, Richard Bearing, and Michael Timbana. Michael told me that he wants to start his own solar business to help his tribe, and I hope we can help him do that! Richard, who is actually a Northern Arapaho, married to an Eastern Shoshone woman, was unemployed and says of his time with Henry, “It has had a great impact [on my life]. I learned a lot and met some new people that I now call friends. I also have a new job.”

 Thanks to the 477 Program for creating these opportunities on your beautiful and historic reservation and congrats to the new Trainees for all they have accomplished.

Notes from the Field: Providing Lakota Families with the Gift of Heat

by Rachel Blomberg, TWP Donor

Rachel Blomberg is a Cornell University student who raised over $2,000 for Trees, Water & People to install solar heaters on the homes of Lakota families living on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Last month, she flew to the reservation to help install the solar heaters. She details her experience below:

“My project could not have unfolded more perfectly.  As soon as I stepped off the plane in Rapid City, South Dakota, Darrell Red Cloud and another volunteer, Rachael Maddox, were there to pick me up and drive me out to Lakota Solar Enterprises on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  On the way, we stopped at the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Home Improvement Program (HIP) office to speak with the inspector administration assistant, Clarence Yellow Hawk Sr., who chose the homes for this installation.

Upon booking my flights to return to Pine Ridge, I was unsure if we would be able to accomplish more than one installation.  However, once I got to the home of Henry Red Cloud at Lakota Solar Enterprises, I became aware that we would be doing not just one, but three solar panel installations that week. This was possible because of the generosity of donors to Trees, Water & People’s Global Giving and carbon offset fundraisers.

The very next day after I arrived, Henry Red Cloud, me, and six other crew members associated with this solar air heater installation project loaded up the Solar Warrior Wagon with all our supplies and drove to the home of Gillard Good Voice Flute, who lives with three other elderly men.  Gillard and his family, or “tiospaye”, are one of the lucky ones to receive a new HIP home from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of only about 10-14 homes built per year for families in need of housing.  This made his home ideal for a solar air heater installation, as these homes are moderately insulated and powered by electricity, not propane.

While Henry instructed everyone on how to properly install the heating system, we all worked together to get the solar panel in place, the duct work run below the floors of the home, the air vents positioned in the floors, and the thermostat installed in the inside of the home.  After a full day of work, we accomplished our goal of giving the gift of heat.  However, we like to tell the home owners, “You just got solared!” instead.

After working on the home of Gillard, the next day we accomplished another installation at the home of Wanda and Darrell Walking, and the following day we installed one more at the home of Mike Merrival.  All three of these solar air heaters will heat homes for families with elderly and children, and will help a family’s heating and electricity bill decline by 30% a month.  As long as the sun is shining, as it does for 300 days a year out at Pine Ridge, these families will have free heat running through their homes, even when the temperatures drop below -40 degrees Fahrenheit.  These solar air heating systems not only provide some relief for families living at life-or-death poverty rates, they also reduce negative environmental impacts caused by heating a home with electricity or propane while helping this nation’s Native peoples become energy independent.

One of the most important things that happened this week was spreading the word about my project to others.  The first day I was there, a separate group from Massachusetts was helping build straw bale homes at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center.  When they heard about what I had accomplished with my project, they decided that they would also try to complete the same goals and bring more solar air heaters to Pine Ridge.”

Thank you to Rachel for all her hard work and dedication to the Lakota people! You can have the same impact that Rachel did by donating to this project, directly supporting Trees, Water & People’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program.

 

 

 

Notes from the Field: Solar Heat Arrives to more Southwest Tribes

by Jordan Engel, Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center Intern

solar heater_ute mountain ute tribe

Emily White Man stands next to her new solar heater on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in Towaoc, Colorado.

In the past couple of weeks, the Tribal Renewable Energy Program and Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE) had the chance to meet up with folks from the Ute reservations in southwest Colorado and give the gift of renewable energy to two families. Henry and I loaded the van with the pre-assembled heater kits (thank you Heart of the Rockies Church) on Sunday, July 22nd, and installed two units in two afternoons.

Henry Red Cloud solar heaterThe first heater was installed at the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s demo home in Towaoc, Colorado – where the Colorado Rockies meet the Great Basin Desert. Emily White Man, who lives in the home with her children and grandchildren, told me that the cold desert winters put a strain on her wallet as her heating bills were beyond what she could afford. The 1950’s-era, one story house is partly heated with butane, and partly with portable electric heaters in the bedroom where the butane heat can’t reach. With her new solar air heater, Emily can be comfortable this winter without burning as many fossil fuels or paying outrageous sums to the energy companies.

At the Southern Ute Reservation, a large group of neighbors, volunteers, and tribal employees came out to help with our installation at the Cedar Point Public Safety House in Ignacio. Though a much more modern house than the one in Towaoc, it was still heated with fossil fuels, though this time with natural gas. As pressure builds to frack Colorado’s natural gas reserves, this solar heater sends the message that there is another way.

solar heater_southern ute tribeThanks to our donors, Trees, Water & People donated the two heaters to the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribes, the first step in spreading family-scale renewable energy to this part of Indian country. Now there are two more communities that have clean heat that will last for decades and perhaps a few people will see the units and be inspired to take our training class at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in October.

“We do not want riches, but we want to train our children right.” Those were the words of Maȟpíya Lúta, Chief Red Cloud, whose name we honor at the Renewable Energy Center. The Solar Warriors we train here have the same priorities: to return to their communities and help their people, their children, and generations to come.

And with that, we’d like to welcome one more generation to our Solar Warrior community. Tashina New Holy, the first daughter of our own Delbert New Holy. She was born Saturday in Pine Ridge at just under 6 pounds. Yawášte!

More photos from the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute solar heater installations:

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Join us for Lakota Adventure 2012!

You are invited to the 2012 Lakota Adventure: Past and Present! Below, you will find an itinerary of events and a registration form. If you have any further questions about this trip please contact Lacey Gaechter, National Director, at lacey@treeswaterpeople.org or by phone at (970) 484-3678.

 

We are Celebrating 14 Years of Community-Based Development!

sustainable development infographic

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