Is it time to go Solar?

English: Solar panel installation at an inform...

Solar panel installation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re all about self-sufficiency and sustainability.  But, for those who don’t have money to burn, sustainability must first be applied at the individual, economic  level, avoiding debt, paying as you go, using resources wisely and demanding a good return on invested funds.   With PV panel prices over $1/watt, the ROI simply isn’t there.   And . . . when outgo exceeds income, it’s simply not sustainable.

Here is a good industry article indicating that solar panel manufacturers will go through a major consolidation this year. Shorthand:  It may finally be a good time to invest in renewable, solar energy if other fundamentals are in place.

Longhand analysis:

Consolidation is a weeding out of the smaller, less efficient manufacturers in favor of low-cost, high-volume, efficient manufacturers.  The remaining suppliers will benefit from lower supply and less intense pricing pressures.  It remains to be seen whether prices will increase in the aftermath of lower supply.  Prices may continue to decline, despite decreased market pressure, as new, more efficient technologies and manufacturing techniques are developed.  Or, consolidation may signal the bottoming out of PV panel prices. 

There seems to be some improvement in the economy, at least in some sectors.  This could release pent-up demand from homeowners who have been waiting to invest in solar out of fear over a potential job loss or from businesses waiting for better times.  If we have industry consolidation (lower supply) that coincides with higher demand, the remaining suppliers will benefit from even higher economies of scale, resulting in higher profitability and perhaps lower prices as low-cost suppliers further consolidate market-share.

By observing general trends in the silicone based high-tech sector, one could conclude that prices will continue to decline.  That is, unless there is some other major disruption in the supply chain (like war, political upheaval, etc.)  If prices begin to increase post-consolidation, this may trigger more government intervention and subsidization, which could also be an offsetting factor.  But once consolidation has occurred, companies may use subsidies to simply pad their bottom lines, further strengthening their balance sheets and staying power in the market rather than reduce prices.

Achieving self-sufficiency and sustainability is expensive.  Achieving it without bankrupting yourself requires a long-term, plodding approach.  Like Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, (remember that from college psychology or sociology classes?) one does not achieve self-actualization until the more basic needs are covered.  PV solar, is at the top of the pyramid.  Nice to be there, but not doable without a solid foundation.  First, you cover basics like food, water and shelter.  Next is energy in the form of least costly and highest efficiency.  Energy for heat and cooling falls in this category.  Passive solar or bio-mass solutions are a much better alternative.    Never try to provide these using Photo Voltaics.  That would be like trying to survive in a famine on an all-corn-fed-beef diet where it takes 15 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat.  Inefficient and unsustainable.

Industry consolidation is just one factor to consider in determining when is the right moment to invest in Solar technology.  My sense is that now is a much better time for solar PV than a few years ago.  I’m glad I waited, opting for low-tech, high ROI alternatives in the meantime.  But the question remains, should I wait longer?  The economy looks to be improving in the short term, but the world still looks extremely fragile.  This may be the perfect moment to invest in self-sufficiency, whether it is a modest amount of solar PV or a more secure location on which to place it.

If you would like to become more self-sufficient, off-grid and better prepared, consider the benefits of doing that in a community of like-minded people who will help you get there on a solid foundation.  Inquire here.

Extreme Consolidation in the Solar PV market expected this year

This is a good industry article indicating that solar panel manufacturers will go through a major consolidation this year.

Consolidation is a weeding out of the smaller, less efficient manufacturers in favor of low-cost, high-volume, efficient manufacturers.  The remaining suppliers will benefit from lower supply and less intense pricing pressures.  It remains to be seen whether, in the aftermath of lower supply, prices will increase.  They may continue to decline, despite decreased pressure on prices, as new, more efficient technologies and manufacturing techniques are developed.  Or, it may signal the bottoming out of PV panel prices.  Also, there does seem to be some improvement in the economy, at least in some sectors.  This could release pent-up demand from people who have been waiting to invest in solar out of fear over a potential job loss.  If we have industry consolidation (lower supply) that coincides with higher demand, the remaining suppliers will benefit from even higher economies of scale, resulting in higher profitability and perhaps lower prices as low-cost suppliers further consolidate market-share.

By observing general trends in the high tech sector based on silicone chips, one could conclude that prices will continue to decline.  That is, unless there is some other major disruption in the supply chain (like war, political upheaval, etc.)  If prices begin to increase post-consolidation, this may trigger more government intervention and subsidization, which could also be an offsetting factor, although generally, once consolidation has occurred, fewer companies may use subsidies to simply pad their bottom lines, further strengthening their balance sheets and staying power in the market rather than reduce prices.

Industry consolidation is just one factor to consider in determining when is the right moment to invest in Solar technology that moves us further in the direction of off-grid self-sufficiency while staying fiscally conservative.  My sense is that now is at least a much better time to invest in solar than a few years ago.  I’m glad I waited.  Cost per KWh is still higher than grid-supplied electricity.  But the question remains, should I wait longer?  The economy looks to be improving in the short term.

I consider small-scale home based Solar PV not for its economic efficiencies, but more for its insurance value. Long-term, the world still looks extremely fragile.  With the short-term improvement in the economy, this may be the perfect moment to invest in self-sufficiency, whether it is a modest amount of solar PV or a more secure location on which to place it.

Achieving self-sufficiency and sustainability without bankrupting yourself requires a long-term, plodding approach.  Like Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, (remember that from college psychology or sociology classes?) one does not achieve self-actualization until the more basic needs are covered.  PV solar, is at the top of the pyramid.  First, you cover basics like food, water, shelter, Next is energy in the form of least costly and highest efficiency.  Energy for heat and cooling falls in this category.  Passive solar or bio-mass solutions are a much better alternative.    Never try to provide these using Photo Voltaics.  That would be like trying to survive in a famine on an all-corn-fed-beef diet where it takes 15 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat.  Inefficient, unsustainable.

Fear Mongering?

I found this TED presentation fascinating, as much for the audience reaction as for the information conveyed.
On YouTube there are, at this writing, 515 likes and 794 dislikes.

Among the YouTube comments, there is a refreshing amount of critical thinking and legitimate dislikes over some of the solutions  Goodman suggests and even his self-interest-promoting motives.

  • Good idea to re-engineer the genes of world leaders to make them invulnerable super-people?  Hmmm…. seems like a pretty bad idea to me.  Maybe the world leaders are the real terrorists?  In fact, I’m pretty sure many of them are.
  • Open source everything, including everybody’s genome?  No thanks.  Think I’ll try to keep that to myself as long as I can.
  • Turn everybody into vigilante mob cops?  Welllll… there are some problems here too, although neighborhood watch groups have been a pretty good thing for some time.

On the other hand, even with all the communications and coordination technology used by the terrorists in Mumbai, I wonder how successful ten guys would have been at killing hundreds of people in a luxury hotel and shutting down the city had all of the guests been personally armed and well-trained.

Here’s one case where Occam’s Razor seems to apply, where the more complex things become, the simplest and most straight-forward solution is the best one.

Liberals who responded negatively to this piece frequently suggested pre-emptive work to identify and help criminals not to become criminals.  That would be nice.  And, of course, there was the argument that the real problem is poverty.  If we could just put all our efforts into lifting people out of the ghetto, we could have a utopian society where crime would not be necessary.  As I have said elsewhere, I like nice, uplifting thoughts that often come from liberals with good intentions and positive, optimistic viewpoints.  But the pragmatic side of me says, point me to one example where that has worked in the real world.  (Again, see Occam’s Razor)

History says there always have been, are and always will be bad people motivated by power and greed and some who are just vanilla psychotic.  The smart and wealthy ones will be the most dangerous in a world dominated by high-tech innovation.  There must be adequate deterrents for them and protections for the rest of us.  Small, underfunded, slow response, remote police forces won’t be up to the challenge.    Don’t believe it?  How about cell-phone/text coordinated flash-mob gang robberies of stores in big cities that have become routine police nightmares?  Similarly, it’s doubtful that well-intended social engineers who want to reform all the bad guys will be up to the task, especially against the smart, well-financed bad guys (drug lords, world leaders and garden variety terrorists).

Liberal, anti-gun enthusiasts  love to cry “Fear Mongering”, believing it to be the modern equivalent of “Wolf”.  Many commented on YouTube, with a touch of sarcastic ennui, “What’s new? Technology can and always has been used for good and evil.”  as if to say in true Alfred E. Newman style, “What, me worry?”  But, if there is anything that rings true about Goodman’s talk, it is that the stakes and the risks are increasing at an alarming rate.

On a happier note, if you believe the majority of people are actually good and the bad guys are in the minority, as I do, why not put some trust in the good guys?  Arm them, train them well, not only in gun handling, but in positive ethics.  The Swiss seem to have a handle on this, where the general population is disciplined and  trained to be responsible for their own lives.  Guns are handled with great respect and crime is extremely low because the deterrent is high.  To acquiesce to a few well-armed criminals while distrusting a well-educated, well-trained majority is, in my view, the ultimate in pessimism. Unbecoming of a true, good-hearted liberal.  For a thinking person, the natural response to the scenario where the bad guys are the only ones armed with technology and weapons is not “fear mongering”.   It’s just rational, useful fear.

I like liberals

despite the fact that I am not one.  

I know I’m venturing into dangerous territory, the no-mans-land between opposing trenches.

I am conservative, and cautious, sometimes fearful, repressed, yet sometimes driven.  People like me keep the world from spinning out of control or at least we like to think we do.  We live within our means.  We save for the future.  We plan for the worst.  We are captivated by a steep moral code that puts boundaries around our lives.  Boundaries make us and others around us feel safer.  We’re fairly predictable.  Politically, we demand fiscal sanity; recognition of what is real.  We analyze the data, find trends and, unless we anticipate something huge happening to reverse the momentum, we generally expect trends to continue.

But there’s another side, buried deep inside of me, that cries out to be creative.  It is an irrepressible force that bursts out of its cave from time to time with a defiant roar.  That creative urge demands that I sheer off the constraints, think unthinkable thoughts, and believe the unbelievable, that insoluble problems can be solved simply, damn the data.  A liberal thought might be something like there is plenty of money to go around to feed the hungry, clothe and house the poor from government coffers that can somehow be magically filled simply by printing more money or redistributing it from the rich.  It is an urge that tells me mankind is basically good, that despite the endless trail of failed utopian societies that depended on people to be unselfish, love others more than themselves and share without restraint, utopia is possible and deserves to be attempted yet again.

Fortunately, my primary self reasserts and I usually come to my senses.  I realize that communes where all property is held in common never survive long, not in a pure form.  Almost nobody loves others better than or even equal to themselves even if there have been one or even a few exceptions.  And though I try to be otherwise, that includes me almost all the time.  That’s why I recognize that personal ownership of property is essential.  Without personal ownership, we typically slide into sloth and “poor greed”.  That is, the back side of the greed coin most people attribute only to the wealthy, which is “driven greed”.  In the end, greed is a problem everywhere.  It is not limited by class.

Consider two unlikely questions together.  “Why do I like liberals?” and “How often do arch-conservatives excoriate liberals as the cause of moral corruption and America’s destruction?”  “Rome is falling because of the damned liberals.”  If you hang around Republicans the refrain is familiar.  These two questions together remind me of another odd couplet.  “Why do I love my wife?”  And “How many jokes are there about men who can’t ask for directions, won’t put the toilet seat down and women who refuse to think logically.”  Why do I love my wife even if she drives me nuts?  Maybe it’s because I need her so desperately.  In the balance between the yin and the yang of our profound but natural differences, something magical happens.  Two halves make a whole.  Take away either half and you have . . . a hole.

If we were a culture made up only of conservative accountants, who would plant the beans to be harvested, much less counted?  (That is NOT to say that only liberals are productive, LOL.)  Or, more accurately, who would dream the big dreams, take the leaps of faith, think outside the steep walls, invest their life savings on an impulse that has less than a 1% chance of success, yet ends up surprising everyone with cold fusion?  Those are liberal, throw caution to the wind, faith-driven impulses.  When I was young, my avowed liberal private sax teacher often said I must play with abandon to be any good as a jazz musician.  There is something liberating in being liberal that allows people to abandon reason, take illogical leaps of faith, and come up with something totally unexpected, fresh, new and good.  It is the ultimate expression of faith.

Isn’t it a bit ironic then, that faith in God, is generally thought of as more natural to the politically conservative side of the aisle while atheism is associated with the educated liberal elite?

Of course, the argument favoring the flip side of the yin/yang equation is equally important and, if you are basically conservative, I don’t need to elaborate.  If you’re not, well, you just don’t get it, do you?

That conservative/liberal dichotomy helps explain to me why the art community seems to be disproportionately full of liberals.  I love art.  There is nothing that validates me more than when I feel creative.  I love creativity, whether I observe it in the scientific laboratory, in the tinkerer’s back yard, the artist’s easel or an inspired jazz improvisational performance. 

If I love creativity, how can I help but love and need creative people?  Many if not most happen to have a wide liberal streak running through them.  There’s an old cliché that I think applies equally in love, politics and life.  “Can’t live with ‘em and can’t live without ‘em. 

And so it is; I like liberals.

The Religion of Science

Is Science the new opiate of the “educated’ masses?

In our time, Science has generally replaced religion as the accepted means of understanding truth.  Religion has been discredited in our secular world, not only as a means of finding truth.  It is regularly vilified as a dogma that produces conflict, war, and the plundering of the planet.  Religion is redefined as dogma that stagnates thought and impedes the advancement of mankind.  In many “progressive” circles it is held as the source of all things evil.  Science is the new religion of our time and applied technology (light bulbs, micro-wave ovens, i-phones, computers) its proof, our Bible.

It has been twenty years since the announcement of “cold fusion” at the University of Utah. MIT scientists and government researchers exaggerated its death and prematurely buried it.   Now still unexplainable yet real experimentation results are exhuming this science from the grave.  Immutable truth has a habit of haunting those who discount it for fun and profit.

Look beneath the surface.  The serious inquirer discovers that imbedded within this drama are all the important questions about man’s search for truth, good versus evil, the corrupting politics of power and greed, human nature, faith and God.  These two YouTube videos, Cold Fusion Suppressed Technology (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htgV7fNO-2k&feature=related ) and Cold Fusion – More Than Junk Science (60 Minutes, CBS News ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNn_Z6wCIk ) do address the scientific methodology as a proof of viability, but the important message is that beneath the methods, the sine qua non of any search for truth are motives, morals, integrity and values.  Absent this, we see the same dogma stagnation, manipulation of the masses for profit and power and rape of natural resources that have been seen as the province of “organized religion”.  Perhaps the new high priesthood of science based in government granted University research should be relabeled “organized science”.

But I digress.  Is morality not the realm of spirituality and religion?  I’m not speaking of the corrupted form of religion, manipulated by despots throughout time, but the religion of humble seekers of eternal truth.  The questions for our age are,

  1. Absent moral purity, can science be trusted any more than religion?   
  2. How can you tell if there Is underlying integrity?

And the answer just might be the modern maxim, “follow the money”.  The increasingly cynical masses have come to trust the wisdom that money leads to power.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  An unfortunate conclusion is that everything is corrupt, including religion, government, corporations, wall street, labor unions and the last bastion of credibility, the new religion, science.  The masses have thrown the baby (religion) out with the bath water.  With the current levels of cynicism it is conceivable that the same could happen for all other institutions including science where no one trusts anything.  Faith is dead.  This would truly be the cataclysmic end of the civilization foretold by prophets of doom.

The quest for knowledge of truth is personal and lonely.

The question I often ask myself and others is, “How do you know that?”  The answer is usually discomforting.  We must all rely on someone else’s first hand observations and analysis for things that we don’t personally and regularly touch and feel.  (Leave aside, for the moment, whether we should trust our own observations and feelings.)  That reliance is called faith whether exercised in the spiritual or scientific realm.  Because we individually lack the training and knowledge to assess the truth of almost everything, we construct means of creating credibility analogs. 

When a technology reaches the state of mass production where virtually everyone experiences its effects, then everyone universally accepts the scientific explanations that underpin it.  Yet few and sometimes no one really understands the basic physics of those explanations.  What’s more, even the science that purports to explain the phenomena often shifts under our feet as it discovers new “knowledge” that modifies the old.  This begs the question, “what do you know”? . . . . Really.

Conclusion:
So, how do we avoid a second coming of Noah’s deluge in the form of babies in bathwater?  In the end, science and religion are in many respects different sides of the same coin.  Each seeks to unwrap the mysteries of truth, each through a different process and each focusing on different areas of truth. 

The holy grail of science is the process that can be peer reviewed and most importantly, replicated under controlled circumstances, usually by a few qualified, knowledgeable scientists.  The masses then read the results in their text books and believe them to be true.  Their method of validating truth is two-fold. 
First:  Primary, personal experience with observable phenomena.  Flip a switch and the light comes on. Tune the radio and hear the music. (Yet understanding of the physics of electricity or radio waves is typically shallow to non-existent).
Second:  Vicarious faith in the prophets of science, and their disciples.  This faith is based on second-hand evidence, analogs for trust:  Nobel prizes awarded, credentials at prestigious research Universities, acknowledgement from peer reviews, and for the masses, talking heads in popular TV, newspapers and books.  For the average person this faith is in nothing more than a popularly accepted dogma.  It is no different than the religious faith exercised by the masses of the Middle Ages.

The scientific method of religion for the individual is similarly two-tiered.
First, primary, personal experience with the results of experimentation:  Pray for an answer to an intractable problem and receive an understanding that is enlightening or comforting, outside our normal thought process and unexplainable other than through the whisperings of the spirit.  Exercise faith and witness a healing of the body, or often more importantly, the soul.  Give generously of your means and love and reap the benefits.
Second, the testimonies of trusted people that we know personally, or the stories written long ago in scripture.

In either case, the personal inputs upon which people base belief are the same.  In both cases, adherents will swear to a knowledge of the truth of their conclusions. 

Today’s popular wisdom chants Karl Marx’, “religion is the opiate of the masses”, a means to wealth and power.  It’s an outdated slogan since that baby is out the window a long time ago in most 1st world nations.  A time will come, perhaps soon, when people begin to understand that science has its own false prophets.  These evil people have mastered the confidence game for power and profit but care little for the improvement of people they are meant to serve.  They care even less about truth other than that which results in personal gain.  Just as religion has been subverted, so can science.  Science is the new opiate of the “educated” masses who are educated with scientific dogma but lack wisdom. 

Perhaps, when people understand the vulnerabilities of science they will begin to recognize that science and religion are indeed, two sides of a multi-dimensional coin.  It is a coin that can be used for good or evil and a coin that, to have value, must seamlessly incorporate the strengths of each and root out the corrupting virus that is man’s quest for money and power over truth.

It seems to me a great irony that during the dark ages, utter contempt for religious beliefs was primarily the province of tyrants.  They were the ones who manipulated religion to justify and instigate unspeakable horrors in the name of God while the masses were unwitting but sincere followers of the tyrannical “keepers of the faith”.  Today, it seems a majority have embraced contempt for religion, resulting in a scramble to adopt tyrannical values.  Hence, we can trust no one.  Would that everyone embraced godly values that would form the basis for trust and discovery of truth through science, religion, meditation, philosophy, historical perspective or any method that gets us closer to the truth.

Am I John Galt?

An article about the Village appeared on Huffington Post about a year ago.   Yesterday, I happened to revisit it and found a number of appended comments.  Most were surprisingly angry and critical.  I was at once both amused and troubled.  On this site, having formerly been an executive is apparently an unredeemable sin.  I was also accused of having spread the disease of American fast food.  Of both charges, I plead guilty.  I trust in Christ for a redemption of my sins whether in or outside of that role, but I hardly believe the role itself to be damning.   On the other hand, I was mildly amused at the self-righteous, hypocritical tone of those who castigate the food industry.  I say, “who among you”, especially in the liberal New England home of Dunkin’ Donuts, “has never partaken of the forbidden fruit?   Let him cast the first stone.”  Not to mention pancakes, ice cream or pizza, for which I also stand double guilty as accused and to which I will probably remain addicted until my dieing day. 

One comment suggested I was a Galt.   “Who is John Galt?” is the iconic line from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.   And so I echo the words of the apostles at the last supper, “Is it I, Lord?” 

I think not.  But then again, there are elements. . .  

Galt calls for a strike against socialist collectivisim. He makes a stand for creative, productive people vs. the “entitled”, indolent masses.  I call for cooperation and (quasi-socialist, that’s voluntary) sharing within a community of independent, self-sufficient, yet selfless, caring people. 
Galt calls for enlightened selfishness with perhaps a subtext of entitlement to luxury and materialism.  I call for people to live a simpler life, voluntarily sharing their wealth with others, including the wealth of nature and the wealth of their knowledge and intellect while enjoying the fruits of both mental and physical labor.   Our town is not gated, however, as we seek to include the local folks within our circle of self-sufficient friends and benefit from their local know-how.  Nor is it an exclusive enclave for the wealthy.

On the other hand, Galt does call for people of extraordinary talent, education, creativity and resourcefulness to band together to enhance their lives and so do I.

And Galt sets up a community for like-minded, creative people known as “Galt’s Gulch,” a town secluded in a Colorado mountain valley.  Hmmm, the Village is built on the Cumberland Plateau, locally called “the Mountain” and Sewanee Creek runs through the Valley we own.  Perhaps, in some respects, I’m galty as accused, and for these “sins” I hope to become a little more galty by association.

Hands-On Preparedness Fair – Workshops

Our call for highly qualified workshop leaders has been answered in spades.   The quality and diversity of topics to be covered at the Fair on July 23-24 is outstanding.  See some of my older posts for a flyer and overview.  Here is a sampling  Preparedness Fair Schedule 7-24-2010

A sequence of three presentations, starts with
Permaculture Design and philosophy, (Saturday @ 10 am)

Permaculture is a design science that takes a whole-ecosystem approach to sustainable development. The term, Permaculture, means permanent agriculture and permanent culture. Permaculture developed in Australia in the late 1970s, by Ecologist David Holmgren and Natural History Professor Bill Mollison, and has since spread throughout the world. Leaders of the sustainability movement are applying Permaculture principles and design methodologies to everything from gardens, home sites, village designs, businesses, and entire regional economies.

Participants will be introduced to a unique tool that incorporates natural design systems into problem solving on multiple levels. Design Resource will offer future classes with in depth studies on topics like energy, food, healing aspects of the landscape, community networking and financial permaculture                                              

 BACKGROUND:   Kevin Guenther is a registered landscape architect, Leed AP professional and certified permaculture designer who has focused his consulting business (Design Resource) on sustainable design

Followed by:
Foraging and Gathering Food and Meds  (Saturday @ 11 am)

Hike through our 500 acre natural preserve in Sewanee Creek Gulf:  Foraging for food and Medicine is the 2nd hour of the permaculture presentation                                                                                                   

Workshop leader, John Rose says, “I work very much hands on, and each location I visit is different. There are a few guidelines common to the practice of safely interacting with anything in nature, whether it is wild plants, wild animals, weather, the elements in general, and ones approach to them.  Includes a general document that will help clarify these things.  I will also include a list of items that are useful learning tools such as a good small notebook with pen, or pencil for drawing and describing plants in their element.  This same notebook can be used as a nature journal for keeping track of such things as time of year, environmental conditions, weather, terrain, and many other aspects, all important to correctly identifying a plant at any given time of year, and under varying conditions.  I will look at not only edible and medicinal plants, but also poisonous plants, and plants that have other utilitarian uses for such things as fire starting, cordage, shelter, and other things.”

And third in the sequence:
Preparing Foraged Foods and Meds  (Saturday @ 2 pm)

Dr. Christina Berry adds that simply identifying edible plants and meds won’t get you far if you don’t know what to do with them.   This workshop will teach about preparing foods and meds from the foraged vegetation found on your foraging journey. Preparations of tinctures, teas, salves and syrups will be made and explained. Discussions of the use of different herbs for different treatments will also be discussed. Resources will be provided for further research.

And there will be much more.  Other workshops include:

TVA’s energy expert, Les Hartman and Village founder Grant Miller present
Alternative Electricity Generation Options.  (Saturday @ 9 am)

Understand available options, pros & cons of each, cost/KWH range, personal work cost, etc.    Understand options for grid tie vs. local battery storage.  See various electricity production options including water, PV, a Lister Diesel Generator and Wood Gasification.

Delve deeper into PhotoVoltaic Solar electricity with George Horrocks, chief design engineer with Tennessee’s largest PV installer.
Power from the Sun  (Saturday @ 10 am)

 Learn the Basics of Producing Electricity from the Sun and Why There has Never Been a Better Time to Go Solar. Whether you want to lock in your energy costs for life, clean and green the world, have backup security when the grid goes down, or see solar as a revenue generator for your family or business, with the price reductions of nearly 50% for solar in the last two years, coupled with incentives in the form of grants, tax credits, and TVA’s Generation Partners payments, now is the “perfect storm” of opportunity to install a solar array.

First on the priority list for preparedness is water.
Rain Water Collection Systems Tour and Demonstration  (Friday @ 3 pm & Saturday @ 1 pm)

Join Paul Owen of Nature’s Tap for a tour of the Miller Home off-grid system.  Understand the benefits and costs of setting up a Rain Water Collection System that can reliably supply all of your water needs.

Then explore options for Water Purification with George Miller,  water quality lab manager for the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley Water District via internet link from California. (Saturday @ 1:30 pm)

Discuss water purification options including filtration, chemical, UV, distillation, etc.    Learn the best use of water from various sources, its treatment primarily for drinking, and its storage.

What about food?
Tour the garden, greenhouse and orchard with permaculturists and gardeners.  (Friday @ 5pm & Saturday @ 1pm) Explore your questions about self-sufficient gardening.  Then learn how to prepare food, observing dutch and solar oven prep’s.  (Saturday 11 am through lunch).  Enjoy tasty BBQ catered from local restaurant, Holy Smokes and learn how to preserve meat and fish by smoking, drying and making jerky.
Sample some local favorites while observing the process of milling wheat for bread, home-made yogurt from milk and tasty jam from local berries.

And you can Can.  Learn how with Carolyn Park and Becky Miller
“Food Preservation Made Simple, Quick and Easy, By Dry-Pack Canning Method”  (Saturday @ 11 am)

CLASS OBJECTIVE:
Have a hands-on experience while learning a proven food storage method.
PARTICIPANTS WILL…
-Learn how to properly can foods such as whole grains, legumes, sugar, and other dry foods.
-Participate in a step-by-step process for canning and sealing dry food in #10 cans and mason jars without the use of electricity.
-See how proper food storage can extend food shelf life for up to 30 years.
-Obtain handouts to help you gain the knowledge to build your own food bank and become food secure.
DISPLAYING:
-Other Food Preservation Methods
-Equipment
BACKGROUND:
Carolyn and Becky have had life long experience in gardening and food preservation. Experience was drawn from three generations of family farming and homemaking.  Recently they have focused on long-term food storage to promote family sustainability and wellness.

“But wait, there’s more”   🙂

  • For hunters or wannabe hunters, expert hunter Bob Blackburn will host a round table discussion on hunting in the Tennessee Woods.   (Friday @ 7:30 pm)
  • For self-defense, expert Brad Bleasdale will present a two-hour course entitled “Choosing and using a Pistol for Defense”   (Saturday @ 10 am)

This Class will cover gun safety, types of handguns, how to eliminate “caliber confusion”, holsters, lights, and lasers, and a host of other topics.
Designed for people considering a pistol, or as a refresher for those who already carry.  Perfect for women, youth, or novice shooters.
Class will include hands-on instruction, and range time with a certified shooting instructor.  Gun and ammo will be available for those without.
Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.

Bio:  Brad Bleasdale is a lifetime shooter and shooting instructor.  Blessed with the heart of a teacher, Brad teaches novice and intermediate shooters the basics of firearms safety and competence.  Brad has instructed hundreds of people in the safe and effective use of firearms, with specialized classes for women, youth, and church groups.
$10/person or $25 / Family.  MUST HAVE:  Eye Protection (sunglasses are fine), ear protection, folding chair, notebook, water.   Bring your own Handgun and Ammo

Alternative HealthCare for mind and body.

  • Start with a 2-hour Native American flute lesson that will soothe and heal the soul, by renowned musician Tony Gerber.  This hands on instruction includes a Native American Flute, all for just $60. (Friday @ 4 pm)
  • Take care of the physical you with a discussion of holistic healthcare methods that have worked for you.  Remedies for every day live.  This round-table will be presented by Dr. Cliffton Brady.  (Saturday @ 1 pm)

Entertainment and Fun

  • Enjoy a movie under the stars at the 26′ wide Village Amphitheater.  Bring your own steak or hot dogs to grill for an outdoor feast.
  • Groove to the jam session sounds of “Space Craft”  (Friday Supper, Saturday Lunch)
  • For the young in body and spirit, learn to rappell off the cliffs near Miller’s Falls with certified instructor, Jesse Gainer or play Village Games with Haley Blackburn.

And that’s just a sampling.  So much to learn and do.  So little time.  Come, join us for the first annual Preparedness fair at the Village on Sewanee Creek.