We were pleased to once again have the participation of Tim King's family in documenting our workshops, realtime, with video. The Handy Village Institute now has a YouTube channel where you can find several videos, including a short version of the March 2018 small wind workshop and a longer version of the March 2016 small wind workshop.
The Biloxi-Chittamacha-Choctaw, Pointe-au-Chien, and Atakapa-Istak Chawasha Indians live in a part of Southern Louisiana that is losing ground. The sediments that once replenished “uninhabitable” swamplands with silt carried from 41% of the lower United States naturally subside. But, the levee system along the Mississippi River diverts almost the entire flow of the river directly into the Gulf of Mexico, carrying the sediment with it. Canals built to service the oil and gas industries and increasingly intense tropical storms have caused severe erosion and allowed salt water to intrude where once all was fresh water. This has killed vegetation, leaving “ghost trees” and removing even more of the land. Added to that, sea level is rising.
Today, the stand-alone power system at the Handy Village Institute received a visit from a couple of very distinguished representatives of the Randolph Electric Membership Corporation. Fred Smith, Vice President of Economic Development and Compliance, and Michael Trent, Director of Innovative Energy Solutions, dropped by along with Doc Sydnor and Nick Harper for a late morning tour. Chris Carter began with a tour of his shop, where the March 2017 Homebrew Wind Turbine Workshop participants built another machine just like the one that will be going up at Doc's Braeburn Farm. Doc's turbine was built during the March 2016 Workshop at Handy Village Institute, and Nick Harper, Braeburn Farm Manager, participated in both workshops. Chris showed the visitors this year's turbine and explained in detail how it was fabricated and the advantages of the horizontal-axis, axial-flux, air-gap alternator design.
Doc Sydnor has had a full career in neuro-opthalmology and a lifetime of ranching cattle. He raises his own line of Red Devon cows on grass in the Cane Creek Mountains of the Piedmont region of North Carolina. You can find fine cuts of his Braeburn Farm beef in local restaurants, farmers and cooperative markets, at the local butcher and at a store on the farm. Cindy Sydnor offers training in dressage at the farm. Doc has been discussing renewable energy possibilities at Braeburn Farm with Christopher Carter for about a decade.
Clancey's Stone Lion is across the highway, tucked in by the railroad tracks. It securely anchors tiny Custer, Wisconsin. In spite of my expectations otherwise, I learned that it was closed on Fish Fry Friday, the second night of the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair. Composed of handsome blocks of stone, its wooden shingles lie upon uniquely curved rooftops. A tiny leprechaun peaks out over the top of a sorry potted plant, his raised arms below the rim reaching up in silhouette over my bar table by the window. A pair of shillelaghs adorn the bar, which is well-provisioned. One Irish whiskey label advises us to destroy the bottle when we are done, lest it should fall into the hands of an imposter.
In a quick dash across the road, I enjoy wild-caught cod with the first fresh green vegetables seen in many days. Then, it's back to the Fair, again, for the evening's speech and concert. Last year, a well-timed Clancey's Facebook post announcing "Fresh Blueberry Pie" lured three of us here, the results of which visit are shown, above.
I have come again for the wind turbines, celebrating our homemade machines that transform the powerful breath of our planet into light and heat in an alchemy of electrons, changing air into fire. Local beer, Midsummer sunsets, a full Moon together with planets Mars and Saturn over the Homebrew turbine at the edge of the fairgrounds lead me to fleeting cosmic thoughts. This quickly mixes with nearby small talk about shared passions and commitments, and whether tonight's band is ever going to play any danceable music. What does it take to live "off-grid"? Why do we do what we do? Will the "geezers" successfully hand this ritual celebration off to younger generations? Another memorial tree has been planted in the Arbor of Activism.