From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Solar Powered Amish Buggy

Monday, January 06, 2014

Sustainable Development and Climate Change: 2 Free Online Courses

I'd like to participate in an ongoing on and off line brainstorm using Buckminster Fuller's World Game design criteria, "How can we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?" and one of Bill McDonough's Ecological Design Principles, "Use only available solar income."

Here are some free resources that are edging, gingerly, towards that possibility.
"Age of Sustainable Development ( ) gives students an understanding of the key challenges and pathways to sustainable development - that is, economic development that is also socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable."

free 14 week course taught by Jeffrey Sachs
starting January 21

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided ( )
"It is now becoming clear that without necessary climate action, the world may become 4°C warmer by the end of this century. As this threatens to roll back decades of development progress, this is a ‘make or break’ point. This course presents the most recent scientific evidence as well as some of the opportunities for urgent action."

free World Bank MOOC [Massive Open Online Course] on climate change
starting January 27

e4Dev, Energy for Development, a student group at MIT is teaching a 4 day course this week (January 7-10, 2014) "Exploring the intersection of energy and human development, Racing Towards Universal Energy Access: Why the Next 2 Billion Users Matter (more than you think).  Eventually, they want to produce their own online course as well but their Fall lectures are already available as videos online:

Prospects for Grid-Connected PV in Kenya

Technical and Economic Analysis of PV DC Microgrids

Reliable Alternative Energy Options for Access:  Lessons from China's Countryside

Power Africa

Electrifying Rural India with Solar Microgrids:  Adoption and Impact

Water Desalination:  Prospects for Energy and Demand


Sunday, January 05, 2014

Toilets, Stoves, and Solar

Susan Murcott, Bob Lange, and Richard Komp are three grassroots environmental activists who are changing lives all around the world.  Susan is a water researcher whose work on simple water filters has benefitted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from Guatemala to Ghana.  Her latest project is building a block of toilets for a school in a village in Ghana, the second project of this kind she has been involved with.  Bob is a physics professor who has been doing science education in Africa for many years, an activity that morphed into installing small solar systems for villages in Tanzania and now into designing, building, and installing efficient cookstoves with the Maasai people. This year, his work is expanding into Uganda.  Richard is a solar expert who has worked on everything from the physics of solar electricity to building solar stoves from scrap.   He has been teaching people all around the world how to do solar as a cottage industry for about three decades now.  His latest idea is to outfit a sailboat as a floating solar workshop that can teach people throughout the Caribbean how to better their lives with simple solar technologies. You can read his reports on his international work at

I consider myself immensely privileged to know all three of these remarkable and remarkably effective people.

"We are raising money to construct a toilet block for a school in the village of Gbalahi in Ghana."  They need about another $7000 in the next 40 days or so.

Roughly a billion people worldwide live without safe drinking water and each year millions are sickened by waterborne diseases, a condition CEE Senior Lecturer Susan Murcott hopes to improve through dissemination of household drinking water treatment and safe storage systems, a cluster of innovative technologies she has helped invent and promote: one used by about 800,000 people in Guatemala; another that removes pathogens and clarifies turbidity in Ghanaian drinking water used by over 100,000 people; and a third, a filter sold in Nepal to screen out arsenic and bacteria, which has so far reached 350,000 people. All three projects make use of locally available materials and the local workforce to create jobs in manufacturing and sales. Many CEE Masters of Engineering students, School of Engineering, DUSP and Sloan students have worked with Murcott on these projects, which were showcased at the Expo Bid Symposium in October in Dubai and will be honored during the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.Read a related story: also:

Read about our work, reducing indoor smoke in the homes of pastoral people in the developing world, caused by the use of indoor cooking fires.We replace the fires with our stove and chimney that produces ninety percent less smoke, benefitting families and the environment.

Floating Solar Workshop SailboatProject for the Miskito Coast in NicaraguaBy Richard Komp, Director - Skyheat Associates
In December I will be going to the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua for the third short solar course I will teach there. This time I will be taking a small sailboat on an overnight trip to get to the remote workshop site.
Our biggest concern is the pirates and drug smugglers in this part of the Caribbean but Nicaragua is currently pretty free of these marauders since the Sandinista government has taken control.
The Donated SailboatWhat I am looking for is a boat that is between 40 and 50 feet long that could be donated by somebody or a corporation. Skyheat Associates is a 501(c)(3) Public Charity and the donation would be tax deductible. We are not fussy about the condition or type of boat but our criteria are floating and able to be fixed up well enough to get from Florida to the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua, where it can be fixed up better and converted to the floating workshop center. It would be good if the boat had a draft of 4 feet or less since many of the places we will be visiting have shallow inlets or bays.
The Grupo Fenix in Nicaragua already works in that part of the country and we have good contacts along the Miskito Coast to have this refurbishing work done properly.
Crowdsourcing to pay for the ProjectThis project will take quite a bit of money, both for outfitting the boat and for the cost of all this traveling around the Caribbean. People have suggested that we try raising the money on the Internet and I think I will ask the next person who suggests this to go ahead and do it. I will give that person or group all the information where they can send the check when they are successful.
We are looking to raise $30,000 in total for the project. Most of the places where the floating center will be giving workshops are occupied by 3rd World people who live on less than $2 a day and the workshops will be free for them; but the project will have quite a few expenses for living costs and workshop materials. Of course places like Akumal in Mexico have a lot of student volunteers from the 1st World who can pay for the workshop, so some of the boat’s expenses will be paid that way; but in general, the project will need donated funds to operate properly. Some of the volunteers who wish to take part in this project may also have money to pay their own way. 
I already have lots of people who have volunteered to help me sail around the Caribbean; but we will need volunteers to help raise money and work on the sailboat. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested. We are now setting up a Crowdsourcing website and will send more information when the donation system is running. The plan includes the opportunity to attend one of the solar workshops or sail on the boat as part of the bonus for a larger donation
Contact Information, For more information or help: Richard Komp, PhD, Director Skyheat Associates,PO Box 184, Harrington ME 04643 207-497-2204, 207- 356-0225 cell