Archive for April, 2010

Weekly Power Up!

Portland is working on installing electric car charging stations but Tokyo is ahead of the game and finishing up installing solar charging stations – for electric bicycles!

Earth… Water… Wind…Fire… Heart… Captain Planet! Check out 7 green TV shows from childhood! Nostalgia fest!

Wave technology given another chance off the coast of Reedsport, OR. $4 million and 200 tons later — 40 homes benefit.

Unducted fan engines could increase fuel efficiency by 26%. Naked engines! Eek!

With new technology solar kits are getting more and more affordable… WattHead covers some of the newer, cost-friendly options. Can college students afford them? Maybe not yet…

This electric vehicle will take you home after the bars using GPS. Called ‘the PUMA‘ this two seater looks like it should be featured in Tron.

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This April 22nd event features bands, vendors, demonstrations and keynote by Sightline Institute’s Alan Durning.

WHAT: Portland State University students will host an all-day Earth Day festival, featuring outdoor performances by bands, a noon address by Sightline Institute Founder Alan Durning, food, community groups, vendors, sustainable technology demonstrations, and more.

Performers include The Soul Mechanics (with members of Hot Buttered Rum and Fruition), Morning Teleportation, Everyday Prophets, Luck One, Sudden Anthem and Off the Grid.

PSU Earth Day 2010 is the culmination of a full week (April 17-24) of “Sustainability in Action”: student-led sustainability projects across the city. Activities range from planting gardens at Portland Public Schools and an eco-documentary marathon to cooking in a cob oven and mixing green cleaning products.

WHEN: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Thursday, April 22, 2010

WHERE: South Park Blocks at Portland State University

COST: The event is free and open to the public.

CONTACT: PJ Houser, PSU Earth Week Coalition, 503-725-8951 (o), 971-275-6734 (c), psuearthweek@pdx.edu.

For more information and a complete list of Earth Week activities (April 17 – 24), visit www.psuearthweek.org.

Find us on Facebook: http://bit.ly/bJNtZh.

SPONSORS: PSU Earth Week is sponsored by Students for Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning; the PSU Environmental Club; and the Sustainability Leadership Center.

Additional support comes from community sponsors, including Dave’s Killer Bread, Columbia Gorge Organic, Portland Farmer’s Market, Andie Petkus Photography, Renewable Project Northwest, Natracare, and others. The Bonneville Environmental Foundation will provide carbon offsets for the entire event.

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Katelyn Zollos is a recent graduate of Purdue University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering program and is serving as an Intern with AsoFenix and Green Empowerment in Nicaragua for six months.  Katelyn will return to the US in June 2010.

It’s the week after Semana Santa (Holy Week) and the three month mark for me here in Nicaragua.  Time has really flown by.  Most of my days have been spent in a small community called La Laguna.  I really couldn’t have asked for a better location or family to live with.  They’re an active group, and some of the hardest workers on the micro hydropower system that is being installed on the nearby river.  La Laguna is lucky to have plenty of water, in an especially dry, dry season this year.  In it, the community swims, bathes, washes their clothes, and night fishes with home-made harpoon guns.  The night fishing has been one of my favorite experiences here.  I didn’t fish; I just walked along on the shore and put the fish on a stick as they threw them at me.

Katelyn after a successful night of fishing

The most disheartening experience here has been going back to the community after spending Semana Santa with my parents, and seeing the banks of the local swimming hole with a blanket of food wrappers and other colorful scraps.  The river was full for the holiday and people from the nearby city came in truckloads, bringing with them picnics with plastic utensils, Styrofoam cups, and metal sardine cans.  Then they went home after a great holiday swimming under the waterfalls and all of their trash is right where they left it.  Hopefully, little by little we’ll be able to clean up the swimming hole and return it to its original state.  The littering problem is something that bothers all of the interns here.  Sometimes it seems like a lost cause, but hopefully, we’ll be able to set an example and get them to think about the consequences the next time they want to toss aside their coke bottle.

The 30 kW micro hydropower system in La Laguna is the largest AsoFenix has installed in Nicaragua.  The system will easily serve over 40 houses in La Laguna.  Right now the tubing is being stabilized, and the electrical lines will be installed soon after.  The area in which the system is being built provides many challenges. The white PVC pipe seems to stretch out forever along the cliff-side.

The white PVC disappears into the distance and Katelyn hikes along

It takes about an hour to hike from the turbine house to the dam (at least for me, Nicaraguans are a bit more sure footed).  The slopes are steep making it difficult to haul water, sand, and rocks from the river.  I give the guys credit; the work they are doing is in no way easy. They work hard, and do it for their families and the betterment of the community.

The men of La Laguna stabilizing the PVC pipe over a ravine

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Erin Carroll is a Hydrogeologist at GSI Water Solutions in Portland, OR. Given her technical background and experience in Nicaragua, Erin and her boyfriend Patrick Hughes were invited to accompany and be mentors to a team of students from Portland State University’s Environmental and Business programs while conducting a site assessment trip in El Jacote and Bramadero, Nicaragua.

Erin, Patrick and children in Bramadero

Traveling to Nicaragua with Green Empowerment was a breath of fresh air. Having completed my M.S. thesis project, A Water Quality Assessment of the Upper Rio Fonseca Drainage Basin, in 2006, it was great to return to the Department of Boaco, Nicaragua, and immerse myself in the local culture while contributing to projects with tangible results.

In the past I spent most of my time in Nicaragua conversing with and rummaging through the offices of people in regulatory and academic organizations in Managua searching for background information about ‘my study area.’ It was always a welcome reprieve when I went to conduct field work in the Central Highlands, but even then I was ‘on-guard’ as I was coordinating sampling activities with my driver and field staff to make sure that we met the objectives of the study. Although I learned a lot and was happy with the outcome of my project, I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with the rural Nicaraguans themselves.

The two years that I spent working on my thesis project combined with subsequent volunteer and travel experiences, where I felt the responsibility of ‘leading the pack,’ made this trip with Green Empowerment and their partner organization, Asociación Fénix, unique. I feel that their ability to not only plan for but also implement the logistics of our trip and meet the needs of everyone in our group was unprecedented.

This logistical freedom combined with the PSU students self motivation, gave me the liberty to soak up my surroundings and immerse myself in the moment. Rather than always using my Spanish skills for translating and seeking technical project details, I was able to have conversations with people and learn about their lives. From Juan Jose’s insights on El Jacote’s past, to the children’s knowledge of the current landscape, I was impressed by the inherent self reliance of the old and young alike.

Juan Jose in El Jacote

To a large degree I feel like the people of El Jacote and Bramadero realize the influence their actions make on their current environment. They realize, for example, that deforestation contributes to the degradation of their watershed yet they continue to cut down trees because they need fuel for cooking. While they know that they are outgrowing their resources they also feel like they should take their share while they still can. What they seem to not fully comprehend (or maybe have yet to embrace), is that there are things that they can do to mend some of nature’s wounds. That together they can plant trees, grow nutritious crops and start to revitalize and protect their natural resources.

Fortunately, the communities of El Jacote and Bramadero have formed a strong relationship with the staff at Asociación Fénix and Green Empowerment (both of whom have pledged to retain a long-term presence in the region). With assistance from these knowledgeable NGO’s, these communities will be enabled to work together toward a sustainable future for their children.

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Weekly Power Up!

  • Is a timer dial on water taps a smart solution? You decide.
  • All time record for particle acceleration set at 3.5 Teraelectronvolts by the Large Hadron Collider underground in Switzerland. The plan to collide the two particles each going 3.5 TeV’s for a combined impact of 7TeV’s in search of the particles that are more basic than the ones we currently have. Crazy!
  • Do watch those ‘save a mountain’ ads on Hulu? A 2007 wind potential study found capacity for 328 megawatts of clean energy on Coal River Mountain, enough to power 70,000 West Virginian homes. The revenue would produce $1.7 million in property taxes that would benefit the local communities. That’s over 50 times the $36,000-per-year that coal mining would generate in severance taxes, and the wind money wouldn’t dry up when the coal runs out in an estimated 14 years.

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About This Position: The Communications Coordinator promotes the mission of Green Empowerment by using a range of digital and print media for outreach and donor development. This position coordinates diverse volunteers and supports Green Empowerment staff for the smooth functioning of the organization.

Public Relations-   30% of time

Enhance Green Empowerment’s reputation and visibility through branding, external communication and the website.

  • Work closely with staff to keep the website information current.
  • Assist with events and corporate sponsorships
  • Execute email and hard-copy newsletters and solicitations.
  • Coordinate Annual Reports.
  • Manage Twitter and other social media accounts.
  • Develop graphically appealing Project Profiles and marketing materials

Administrative and Fundraising – 30% of time

Assist in the smooth functioning of the organization’s administration.

  • Receive visitors, telephone calls, and mail.
  • Receive emails to general info@greenempowerment, respond or forward.
  • Help with general office task such as ordering supplies
  • Help to maintain a new database management system (Salesforce) for corporate, foundation, and individual donors with the Development Director or Accountant.
  • Maintain records of incoming grants and outgoing requests as well as past, prospective, and current institutional and corporate donors in Salesforce
  • Organize end of year contribution receipts and replies.

Volunteer coordination-  20 % of time

Effectively manage and designate roles for a diverse corps of Portland based volunteers. Act as a liaison between the Director of Service learning and international volunteers.

Program Tracking-   20% of time

Support program staff in tracking and program-related outreach.

  • Support in grant writing, solicitation and reporting.
  • Maintain active projects profiles with Good Search, Global Giving, Universal Giving, local CFCs (combined federal campaigns), and other web fundraising opportunities.

Remuneration: $27,000 annualized.  This is an “at will” position, not a contract for a fixed period of employment.  Employer-paid medical insurance, paid vacation and sick leave.

Education: College degree, or equivalent

Skills and Knowledge:

  • Ability and desire to work in a dynamic nonprofit organization and commitment to the mission and values of the organization.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Adobe InDesign and general computer skills.
  • Marketing or graphics experience is a plus.
  • Knowledge of Salesforce or other database system preferable.
  • Experience with Vertical Response, Facebook, Twitter and Google Documents recommended.
  • Must be outgoing, be able to work independently and think creatively about complex solutions.
  • Demonstrated high quality written and verbal skills.

To Apply: Kindly send resume and cover letter by email to apply@greenempowerment.org by April 18, 2010.

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KQED San Francisco is broadcasting the film American Sandinista about the work of Ben Linder, next Saturday evening at 6 pm.

In the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, a bloody civil war between the socialist-influenced Sandinistas and US-backed Contras ravaged Nicaragua. Despite the danger, thousands of Americans disobeyed White House warnings and descended upon the Central American nation, determined to lend their skills and labor to the revolutionary Sandinista cause. Using an eclectic mixture of rare archival footage, arresting still photography, and contemporary interviews, this documentary tells the story of a small group of controversial US engineers who went further than anyone expected, and paid the ultimate price.

Green Empowerment’s first major project was funding the continuation of micro-hydro projects in Nicaragua that had been started by Ben Linder. In 2001, Green Empowerment became the steward of the Ben Linder Memorial Fund, and Green Empowerment has continued to support ATDER-BL’s growing projects to this day.
The film was recently released and can be purchased on line by clicking here: www.american-sandinista.com
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area then you can catch the film on KQED 9HD on Saturday April 10th at 6:30pm

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