TWP Presents 10K Check to Local Elementary School

On Saturday, September 13th I had the great honor and pleasure of presenting a large and rather beautiful check for $10,000 to Ann Alfonso, the principal of Bethke Elementary School at the new school’s dedication

ceremony. This funding will initiate the installation of a 10kw photovoltaic solar electric system on the school and was the culmination of a year’s worth of work here at TWP. It is also the kickoff of a program that is sure to result in many more renewable energy installations throughout Fort Collins and Northern Colorado.

Trees, Water & People’s Clean Energy Program’s initiative called Renewables on Schools raises money through our annual Renew the Rockies fundraising event to initiate the acquisition of renewable energy installations on area schools. Bethke Elementary was the first of hopefully many schools! After thewonderful success of Renew the Rockies last year, we are already starting to pursue sponsorships and make plans for next year’s Renew the Rockies– The Future IS Clean Energy! Scheduled for March 7th, 2009, it will benefit another school in Fort Collins, likely Kinnard Junior High, which was pre-wired for a 10kw photovoltaic solar electric system when it was built in 2004. With a futuristic theme, we plan to celebrate the promise of renewable energy and do our part to bring that technology to the present. If you or someone you know is interested in being involved as a sponsor or auction donor, please contact Elizabeth Mozer at (970) 484-3678 or Elizabeth@treeswaterpeople.org .

Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center Gets a Loft Built!

Greetings from Richard Fox, TWP’s National Director.  I just got back from another trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. For the last five years I have worked with Henry Red Cloud who owns Lakota Solar Enterprises.  Henry is a direct descendant of Chief Red Cloud, the last war chief of the Lakota.

Slowly, we have been building the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center as a place where Native Americans can come and learn about renewable energy and get hands-on training in various family and facility sized renewable energy applications.

This last week, Henry and the LSE crew, working in conjunction with our friends and many voluneers from the Re-Member organization, built a loft in our quonset hut that will become two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom for members of other tribes who come to the Center for renewable energy training.  The main platform and walls are in but there is a lot to do. 

A lot has already been done there too to make this into a place for Native Americans to learn about sustainable living and renewable energy.  We have already installed more than 200 solar air heating systems at Pine Ridge and 9 other reservations.  The quonset hut acts as our solar manufacturing and development facility. 

We have several of our solar heaters there as well as a wind break and shade trees we planted.  There is also a small straw bale office there as well as a greenhouse, sweat lodge, a small camping area and some of the Red Cloud buffalo herd.  Come spring time we expect to install either a solar electric array or a wind turbine as we slowly develop this center as a major training facility.

Recently, Henry was awarded the maintenance contract for the wind turbine at the Kili Radio Station.  This turbine will supply about half of the radio stations electricity needs and is a big step forward for energy independence.

We are currently beginning to consider opening up a spot or two for interns who are willing to live and work at Pine Ridge.  There is currently no funding for salary, and living conditions would be primitive, but it would be an incredible opportunity to learn about renewable energy while making a major contribution to a people that have suffered much over the years.  If interested, email me at richard@treeswaterpeople.org.  If you are interested in learning more about what we are doing or want to contribute to the project, check us out at www.treeswaterpeople.org and look at out Tribal Land Program area.

Be well…

Richard

Stove Camp 2008

In our quest to improve our stove designs, I attended Aprovecho Research Center’s Stove Camp 2008 in Cottage Grove, Oregon. There were over 20 of us participating: representatives from international development NGO’s, companies, universities, the government, and new converts to the world of fuel efficient stoves from many walks of life.

Marvin, Paul, and Sebastian demonstrate Paul's gasifier stove
Marvin, Paul, and Sebastian demonstrate Paul's gasifier stove

The inventor of the Rocket stove, Dr. Larry Winiarski, reviewed his Ten Design Principles for Wood-burning Cookstoves. Aprovecho staff reminded us of the equally important principle of making stoves women like. If the women you give a stove throw it out the minute you leave, it doesn’t matter how fuel efficient it is, you will not accomplish your goals of reducing their exposure to Indoor Air Pollution (IAP), reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or reducing deforestation! So compromises must be made between competing principles to have a successful stove design.

Our mission for Stove Camp was to design and build the most appropriate stove model for refugees in Darfur, Sudan. We cooked posho (similar to polenta), the region’s staple food over numerous stoves to see which stove performed the best in terms of speed, safety, fuel-efficiency, portability, and IAP. Some stove designs could be made from locally available materials, while others would have to be imported but would be easier to guarantee quality control for.

Our Controlled Cooking Test with posho incorporated Aprovecho’s Portable Emissions Monitoring System and backpack Indoor Air Pollution Meter to quantify how much carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter (think of smog) are created and inhaled, respectively, while cooking with a given stove.

In addition to stove design, we discussed pot design, a generally overlooked part of the cooking equation. Pots with small openings or with metal “fins” increased fuel efficiency by a ton!

Stove camp was a fun and educational experience. It was a great opportunity to step back from our existing stove designs and think how we could improve them by bouncing ideas off of the experts. I plan to share their suggestions with our local partners in Central America and Haiti in the coming year.

Allison Shaw

Assistant International Director

Good work by our partner AHDESA

I feel like a proud father. AHDESA, our partner in Honduras, applied for this grant on their own from GVEP, a fund managed by World Bank, Winrock Int’l, and other partners to fund 750 stoves for southern Honduras. They were awarded the grant and have now completed the work. When I first started working with AHDESA in 1995, it was a one-man show, run by Ignacio “Nacho” Osorto. Now, AHDESA has more than 10 people working for them and Nacho’s son Benjamin is working for AHDESA and wrote the grant report. Check it out:

http://www.gvepinternational.org/_file/495/AHDESA-GAPFund%20completion%20report%20final.pdf

Stuart

Each dreaming their own version of peace and reconciliation…

I just got back to Colorado from another trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Henry and Avery Red Cloud and a TWP friend and donor, Al Byrnes, and I were installing another of our solar heating systems. We’ve previously done about 200 solar heating systems for families on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. This one, though, was very special.

It was for and at the KILI Radio station, the Voice of the Lakota Nation. Our workshop installation was in conjunction with a major celebration honoring KILI Radio’s 25th anniversary of being on the air, as well as a celebration for the installation of a very amazing pretty darn big wind turbine that will produce about 1/2 the electricity the station needs to operate. It is indeed another big step forward for Energy Independence across the seven Lakota reservations.

Honor the Earth was a big sponsor of the wind turbine project and was there for the celebration, as was the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (ICOUP). Bands, speakers, the solar heater workshop and installation, a feast, and an amazing giveaway … made this installation all very powerful and good.

We then returned to the mini-campground at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center there at Pine Ridge. Henry and Avery live there at this developing sustainable living center.

A major core is the renewable energy training center where Native Americans are trained in family and facility scale renewable energy applications. We are currently building a loft in our main building with two bedrooms, a bathroom and small kitchen so visitors from other tribes have a place to stay as they learn about solar heating, windbreaks, wind turbines, shade trees and the making of solar electricity.

On the Sustainable Living side, there is also a small straw bale office, a greenhouse and garden area, a sweat lodge and a some of the bison from the Red Cloud herd.

For more info on what we are doing, check out our Tribal Program on our website – www.treeswaterpeople.org. Your friendship, your help, prayers and financial support are all greatly needed and appreciated for us to raise the funds and finish manifesting this amazing project.

After a night of stories around the campfire and some fire dancing and fun, we went to sleep … me … in a Red Cloud tipi in the middle of the Sioux Nation … each of us dreaming about our own version of peace and reconciliation.

Richard Fox
National Director
Trees Water & People

“Lakota Past and Present” Adventure

Over the last five years, TWP has been bringing family-sized renewable energy applications to tribal communities. During most of that time, we have worked with Henry Red Cloud on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Henry is the owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises and has led most of our renewable energy workshops and installations. Recently, we have expanded our partnership with Henry to develop the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, a facility that will train Native Americans about renewable energy applications for many years to come.

While our primary focus has been on providing Lakota families with more than 200 solar air heating systems, we have also been involved in solar electric and wind turbine installations as well as planting trees as windbreaks for more than 130 additional Lakota families.

Most of our work has been on the Pine Ridge reservation, but we have also installed demonstration solar heaters for families on nine other reservations ranging from Skull Valley in Utah to White Earth in Minnesota.  Four of these installations were done in partnership with Winona LaDuke and the Honor the Earth organization.

Over the years, we have had many people ask to come with us and learn about the Lakota people, conditions at Pine Ridge, and our efforts to build renewable energy capacity in tribes across the Great Plains. We have brought some of these folks to Pine Ridge in the spring to help us during our last 6 years of tree planting there.

This fall, we will begin to gently expand our efforts to engage more people in working with Lakota people to build a more sustainable energy program and reduce outrageously high utility bills. We believe that with energy prices continuing to rise, and potentially doubling over last winter’s costs, that we need to do everything we can to get more solar heating systems in place and protect more tribal families, especially the elderly and children.

These supplemental solar heaters will reduce heating costs by 20-30% for 20 to up to 30 years for pennies a day and should be a part of every tribes new energy policy. Check out our website for more information.

Please take a moment to read the flyer about the Lakota Past and Present Adventure. I hope you will consider attending and that you will pass it on to your friends and associates for their consideration.

Richard

Tribal Lands program in National Geographic

Trees, Water & People and Henry Red Cloud are featured in an article about the Lakota that appeared in the July 2008 edition of National Geographic France, written by Sylvie Brieu with photographs by Asim Rafiqui. Following is a translated excerpt from the article:

National Geographic France

Wounded Knee remains an open wound . . . . The struggle for independence and self-determination continues, if less violent than in the past centuries. Today’s community leaders are waging other kinds of battles. I’m meeting with one of them at Big Bat’s, one of the few meeting spots on the reservation. The dynamic Henry Red Cloud, 48 years old, 5th generation descendant of a great chief of the Sioux, defines himself as a 21st century warrior. “Here, we are in a survival operating mode on a daily basis.” Henry says with a nod. “So, we’ve got to fight. I help families reclaim and then utilize the lands that the BIA confiscated – under the pretext that the people were incompetent – in order to lease them at a below market price. I promote organic gardens, self-sufficiency and renewable energies.”

Henry heads a small company, Lakota Solar Enterprises, supported by Trees Water & People. Over the last three years, he has equipped more than 200 households with solar heaters. “In this region winters are harsh. Temperatures can drop below – 40° F. More than 60% of the population lives below the poverty level and can’t afford to heat their homes with either propane or electricity.”

“The sun is part of our way of life and we honor the sun through our Sun Dance. To incorporate solar and wind energy technologies into our everyday life is a way to continue living in harmony with the Earth.”

Henry smiles, looking towards the future: “Our generation is the one that must do the healing. By reclaiming our land and bringing back the buffalo, the members of our community will be able to go forward and resolve their problems.”