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How to Change US Energy in One Growing Season through practical demonstrations of available technologies and public education in all media.


Applicable to the United States of America

Executive Summary

Direct action public education campaign using such techniques as demonstrations of energy technology at farmers' markets, weatherization and solar barnraisings, solar as civil defense, disaster response, and development policy, establish an online, ongoing global brainstorm on local, practical climate adaptations and solutions, and begin an energy Public Service Announcement campaign throughout all media concentrating on solutions rather than explaining the problem.

This may already be underway in the process of winterizing #Occupy, an effort that I have contributed resources to.

Response to judges' request for more information

There are five (5) parts to my proposal.  Consistent demonstration of simple and affordable solar and energy efficiency technologies at the weekly farmers' markets held throughout the USA from May to November is only the first part.  This does not mean that such demonstrations can't also occur at other public events like school and science fairs, community celebrations, May Fairs, or Oktoberfests.  That should bring in more than the core green constituencies of farmers' markets customers.  However, there is an additional benefit in appealing to such a core constituency in that you have a greater chance to get them to act.  When they actually start using simple solar and energy efficiency technologies, these examples will also serve to demonstrate the applicability of such tactics to their neighbors, friends, and relatives.  Word of mouth is the strongest advertising and when people see that such tactics are both affordable and valuable, perhaps a groundswell will start.

The second part of my proposal (unfortunately not numbered) is weatherization and solar barnraisings in the neighborhoods.  It would be good if there were state and national support for such efforts, but, already, there are groups around the USA which are performing these activities, some of whom I link to.  This, again, is a practical demonstration of the utility of solar and energy efficiency technologies on a ground level where people can see these technologies working in real life where they actually live.  Lately, HEET, one of the weatherization barnraising groups, has been concentrating on churches, daycare centers, and community centers, reducing costs for such community enterprises and expanding the audience from a single household to whole congregations and community groups.

The third part of my proposal is to focus on the linkages between civil defense, emergency preparedness, and small-scale solar.  The flashlight, radio, cell phone, and extra set of batteries can all be powered by a few square inches of solar electric panel and the addition of a hand-crank or pedal power generator provides a reliable source of such survival power day or night, by modest human effort or sunlight.  One advantage of such an approach is that you don't have to convince anyone of the existence or urgency of climate change.  Solar IS Civil Defense makes sense whatever you believe.  You can even pitch this idea to rabid survivalists who don't believe in evolution or trust "pointy-headed intellectuals."  You avoid the 20 years or so of wasted time haggling over belief and get right down to practical action. Another advantage of concentrating on Solar IS Civil Defense is that this level of survival electricity is also an entry level of independent power for the nearly quarter of the world's population which does not have access to electricity now.  There are even possibilities to match building civil defense capacity in the developed world and bootstrapping in the developing world through such programs as the solar BOGOLight (, a solar LED light which also charges AA batteries, the most used small batteries in the world.

The fourth part of my proposal is to build an online, ongoing global brainstorm on local, practical climate adaptations and solutions so that different groups working on these issues around the world can share experiences and speed innovation together.  In fact, I would suggest that this is exactly what the Climate CoLab should be doing now.  Again, this leverages the experiences and lessons learned by those working on these problems around the world so that we can speed the replication of successful models and approaches.  This part of the proposal is pitched at NGOs, municipalities, states, and regions and expands the activities proposed from individual actions combined voluntarily on the street level to all the different levels of government below national and international.

The fifth part of my proposal is Public Service Announcements in all media which show people how to use renewable energy and energy efficiency in soundbytes.   I even link to my poor man's versions of energy PSA's produced over the last twenty years (the ones I did 30 years ago are on an obsolete format).  How much money has been spent by environmental groups trying to convince people that climate change is real and needs to be addressed?  I believe that such monies would have been much better spent on teaching people how to use simple, affordable solar devices to prepare for emergency or disaster, that net zero energy buildings are not only possible but affordable, that the transition to renewables on a household level does not have to be done all at once but can be accomplished one room at a time (my bedroom is essentially off-grid and has been for nearly seven years at a cost of less than $200), and that there are thousands of years of history of using solar thermal energy to heat houses and water.  Practical solutions that people can use whatever they believe convince much better than scare stories and incomprehensible charts and graphs. We need to remind everyone that human society has always been solar powered and always will be.  Our current society does not recognize that fact simply because the Sun does not change us for daylighting services, growing food, and keeping us warm most of the year. 



Conception:  gmoke


1. Consistently demonstrate practical, affordable energy efficiency and renewable energy ideas, devices, and systems at the over 7000 weekly farmers' markets <> that take place across the USA from Memorial Day to Halloween or Thanksgiving.

The people who attend farmers' markets are a core constituency for green technology and practical applications that save money, energy, and resources. They are likely to be early adopters who can spread those possibilities into the community. I've done energy demos at my local farmers' market
<> and know that a renewable energy company sometimes participates in the year-long weekly market near Providence, RI  <>. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more examples out there.

Do energy education weekly at as many of those 7000 weekly markets as possible and over one growing season energy use and attitudes would change significantly. See Mr Franklin's Folks
<> for one vision of how this might work.

2. Home Energy Efficiency Team <> of Cambridge, MA has been doing monthly weatherization barnraisings since the summer of 2008. Since then, at least 18 other nearby and distant communities <> have begun their own weatherization parties. Still other groups are doing solar barnraisings in at least four states, that I know of:
Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative <> in NH
Seacoast Area Renewable Energy Initiative <> in the Piscataqua region on Maine and NH
Coop Power <> in Western MA
Grid Alternatives <> in CA

During the last energy crisis in the 1970s, there were groups that did solar barnraisings too. Some of those solar devices are still working

Personally, I'd like to see a weatherization barnraising on the White House
<>. With the full participation of all the TV carpentry shows, "This Old House," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," the HGTV and DIY channels.... It could make for some great PSAs and instructional audio/video and the power of the President's bully pulpit (plus a little of his own sweat equity) would go a long way toward generating the mass movement toward energy efficiency that we should have undertaken thirty years ago.

Since President Obama isn't doing it, we can do it ourselves.  Make energy efficiency a fad and a community standard.

3. Energy education could also work in conjunction with emergency preparedness and civil defense. Start with the basics - flashlight, cell phone, radio, an extra set of batteries.... all of which can be powered with a couple of square inches of PV. Add a hand crank or pedal power back up and you have reliable production of AA and better electricity day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.

Solar IS Civil Defense
, pure and simple. It is also a significant rise in the standard of living for the 1.6 or so billion people in this world who don't have access to electricity today.

In fact, there are organizations
where you can join a buy one give one program and support coordinated development in the developing world with civil defense in the developed world.

4. Build an online, ongoing global brainstorm on local, practical climate adaptations and solutions so that different groups working on these issues around the world can share experiences and speed innovation.

I'd like to see an online solutions architecture established to make good energy ideas go viral. There are already some sites which are useful resources:
Appropedia <>
Open E Farm <>
BuildItSolar <>
Solar Cooking Archive <>

5. Public Service Announcements in all media which show people how to use renewable energy and energy efficiency in soundbytes. Sell solar like toothpaste. I have made some of my own club-footed and left-handed videos which could serve as examples:

It worked on the Homefront in WWII and some of the propaganda produced then has strong echoes today:

It is way past time for the changes we need. We shouldn't wait for politicians or business to change. We should start making the changes we need ourselves. Begin the parade and there will be plenty of "leaders" ready to run to the front of the line.

A solar civil defense, weekly energy demos at the farmers' market, monthly weatherization and solar barnraisings, an all media public education campaign on energy efficiency throughout all sectors of the economy and society, I think that's a good start toward reducing emissions in a way that doesn't require people to believe in climate change or not.

It can continue with transportations and manufacturing issues as well, all based upon a goal of zero emissions.


Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviors that will avoid extinction.
R. Buckminster Fuller

We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls by, not seeing you at all.
Lew Welch

The only war is the war against imagination.
The only war is the war against imagination.
The only war is the war against imagination....

the war that matters is the war against the imagination
all other wars are subsumed in it.

Diane di Prima