The Handy Village Institute Team has determined that the best time to re-start our small wind workshops will be the last week of March 2023. Yes, that's March 27 to April 1, 2023. We have postponed a handful of times during the pandemic, and instead of offering a full workshop in 2022, we have been servicing local turbines.
I always tell people to think about bicycle wheels and how they need to be greased and the spokes checked and tightened, if needed. It's a feature of a machine with moving parts: they need to be checked and cleaned and lubricated, and it's also a chance to make minor repairs. In the case of the small wind turbines we make and use, that usually means looking for and addressing any minor damage due to hail, especially on our hand-carved wooden blades.
When we postponed the March 2022 workshop, we invited all who had registered to come that week at no charge and observe the servicing of two of our small wind turbines. A few folks were able to participate, watching the process of lowering the tower, removing the blades and the hub, checking for damage, changing the grease, smoothing out blade surfaces, then putting it all back together, again, and raising the tower back up. The weather was lovely, and we enjoyed meeting in-person, sharing lunch and stories, and the ever satisfying teamwork with a sense of an important job well done.
Watching the safe lowering and raising of a tower and the regular maintenance tasks involved in making small wind power are valuable ways to become oriented to the responsibilities involved in generating one's own electricity. We were able to perform the service on two of three local turbines made in our workshops that currently generate electricity near Saxapahaw. I expect we will pick a date and perform maintenance on the third one before the March 2023 workshop, and that will be another opportunity to invite observers who are interested in this technology and how it operates.
Happy Solstice 2022, y'all! - Deborah
Due to illness, we have just postponed our fifth small wind turbine workshop for the fifth time! Look for it in October 2022 during a week to yet be determined. Why October? Nicer weather, mainly. It is near the end of hurricane season on the East Coast of North America, and it is usually cooler and drier. If a frost does come along, it means the leaves will turn colors for their fall display.
At this time, we have come through several waves of COVID-19 in our community, our family members all have their vaccines and boosters, and we are much looking forward to the return of days when we will feel safe unmasked in the company of people who are not only of our households or various "pods". Mask mandates are being dropped all around us, as the Omicron variant's spike dissipates, but masks are still required indoors in our North Carolina county and in most of our local businesses and schools.
We are aware of the special needs of people in our community who for health reasons cannot be vaccinated, who have or are living with people who are immune-compromised or immune-suppressed, or who work in healthcare settings, and we offer our visible respect by continuing to wear our masks, keeping our social distance, and frequently and thoroughly washing or otherwise sanitizing our hands.
I had an opportunity to substitute for a colleague who was having surgery during Winter Term at Elon University, teaching a course about climate change strategic communications. Winter Term courses are compressed and intense, shoe-horning 15 weeks of instruction and exams into 15 days during January. Meeting with 31 masked undergraduates in a classroom that was full, but flexible, after two years of online-only instruction was exciting, welcome, and a bit terrifying. Quite a few of the class members had to be quarantined for 5 days at a time, so I learned how to offer the class in "hybrid-mode" on the fly, wrangling so many microphones, cameras, and settings among the classroom's built in equipment and that which I was able to borrow from the Library. It was gratifying for me to witness how hungry my students were for this experience. The course was a chance for mainly business and communications majors to learn about the causes and impacts of climate change, about solutions, and most of all how to plan and implement strategic communications to influence targeted audiences regarding what they can personally do to engage and make a difference.
My students informed me that they identify as members of "Gen Z", which the Pew Research Center polls inform all of us is the most active demographic group when it comes to talking about and personally doing things that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The work we do at Handy Village, teaching people about hand-building and operating small wind electric power generators, sometimes feels like we may be way ahead of our time. Sometimes we think we are behind the times as fewer and fewer small wind power manufacturers remain standing. But this generation coming up is ready to take responsibility for a healthy planet into their own hands, and after my experience working with my students as they role-played and simulated community climate resilience and wind turbine siting challenges in January, I think we may right on time.
We look forward to offering our wind workshop and open house in October 2022, and to begin offering new opportunities and programs, as well. The first new opportunity that we have planned is opening up a couple of days of local, small wind turbine inspection, maintenance, and repair, to visitors at no cost. If you think you might be interested in witnessing us lowering towers and servicing turbines we have made in past workshops, write to us in the contact form and let us know. The dates will be March 22 and 24, 2022, during the week that we had originally scheduled our small wind workshop. This experience will be valuable to anyone considering making or operating a small wind turbine, especially because it will be a chance to see how the towers work and to see the assembled components of the turbines up close. May we all stay healthy, safe, productive, and find joy in 2022.
Oh, and Happy Mardi Gras, may the good times roll!
It was with great sorrow that the Handy Village Institute postponed its Annual March Small Wind Workshop, this year. Even before the government leaders issued their state and county orders to self-isolate, we were all in clear agreement that it was the right thing to do. We have chosen August 10 to 15, 2020 as our goal to reschedule our workshop. We love being able to host this extraordinary opportunity for participants to come and learn how to make a small wind turbine from scratch that can add wind power a homestead or small farm renewable energy system. We were really looking forward to working with this year's group, and hope to see everyone soon. We either really miss you, or we really want to meet you!
Chris Carter took our newest machine to the regular powder coating shop, and they balked at the color request. Fortunately, a nearby shop that works on race cars had just what we wanted. They too called it "Pepto-Bismol Pink," and offered also a choice to use "Purple Passion". Maybe the for the next one we will take them up on it!
Of course, there is great uncertainty at this time about how long we will need to refrain from gatherings, as well as how many losses we may experience in our community. It has taken awhile for many in our greater community to accept that we really do need to be this disciplined about avoiding transmission of this new virus. It is also taking some even longer to accept that we probably will not be bouncing back to "normal" in the next few weeks. At present, North Carolina is on lock-down through April.
With proper social-distancing by all, work has continued on the installation of the most recent turbine built in our shop. Asked what color I wanted it to be, this time, I said "Pepto-Bismol Pink," and so it is. Some think it is more the color of borscht with sour cream stirred into it. I don't have a problem with that because I love beets! This installation is the first one in our county that will undergo inspection by the Orange County Planning and Inspections Department. We hope that their experience working with us will open the door to more turbines on local farms in the future.
We hope you will keep following Handy Village Institute, online, here and on Facebook. If you can make it, please join us for our next workshop. We also always hold an Open House at the shop on the evening before the final day of the workshop, so participants can show off their work to family and friends and neighbors. It is also a great time to drop by if you are thinking about taking the workshop in the future. If all goes as planned, the Open House will be on August 14, between 5 and 7 pm. Refreshments will be served, tunes will be played and sung, and families will be welcomed. Until then, please take care and stay safe. We want you to stick around a while longer!
Spinny and Sustainable Jack launched Spinny's Theme Song at the 2018 American Solar Energy Society Conference in Boulder, Colorado, August 7, 2018, before Sven presented his renewable energy circus act.
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.
Update: Alternative Energy Through Homemade Wind Turbines on Lowlander Center site.
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.