I am hoping to start a group in my community, just south of Santa Fe. I am just at the beginning of the process though, and found this website as I was looking around the internet for information. I live in a community of about 3000 households that would be ideal for a CSE (community supported Energy COOP) and I am starting by learning about that. (go to localenergy.org or marksardella.com and follow some links if you are interested in learning about that aspect of sustainability.) Please let me know what information resources you have found. Right now I am gathering information. Myself and a small group of others are looking toward working on this more intensely in 2009.
Great to hear from you. Thanks for the information on CSE. I will check it out. Our little group is just forming as well. Some of us have bought the book, Transitions, and we are reading it in hopes of sharing information with others. I have spoken with Michael Brownlee about doing a Transitions training in New Mexico possibly in the Spring. He needs about 20 people to sign up at $200 each to do the training. I heard him speak at the Bioneers conference in Boulder last October concerning Transitions.
Jemez Springs is a very small community of about 400 although many more families live in the valley. What community do you live in? Would it be possible for us to get together and do some brainstorming? I teach on the Jemez Pueblo, but I am available evenings and weekends. I will also be in Santa Fe on Dec. 9 if that day works for you.
Hope to hear from you soon,
I looked at the local energy website and remembered that I have heard Mark Sardella speak at other sustainability meetings in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I have some difficulity with the biomass idea. As he stated in his paper most of the biomass to fuel the Santa Fe plant will come from lumber mills. I understand that in theory lumber is a renewable resource, but it takes years to renew it. I think we need to be cautious about depending on a fuel source that cuts down massive amounts of trees.
But the website did give me an idea for my area. We are fortunate enough to have geothermal energy just below the surface in many areas of the valley. I'm wondering if that might be a alternative energy source for this area. I'm researching it! Our group is mainly looking at ways to network and get the word out to other community members. We are talking about a community greenhouse, classes on how to use dehydrators, solar ovens, worm bins, etc. Any ideas you have to share would be greatly appreciated. Do you think you would have anyone interested in taking the Transition training with Michael Brownlee in the Spring?
I am new to this idea. I am not sure that I am on board with the transitions model. I can't yet say if I am interested in the transitions training. I need more time to look at it.
Here is where our group is at the moment:
We formed around the Oil and gas drilling issue. Right now we are in the thick of getting a new ordinance approved by the county commission board but we have given ourselves the gift of focusing on the ordinance (and related) issues for the balance of the year. It is really a big deal, very complex and very important. We intend to change our focus in the new year when the ordinance is in place and many of us are looking to sustainability as our next focus. I know that there are many people in the area that have lots of ideas and knowledge and we will be trying to pull that all together. I have been invited to a meeting that hopes to draw interested parties together to identify what common needs and interests we have and how to begin setting up coops for everything from childcare to food growing. I am particularly interested in local energy generation because we all need to stay warm but also because if we can keep the money that we all spend on our utilities in the community we harness a great resource. And then there is the security and satisfaction of not relying on PNM.
In terms of the info on Mark's website - the biomass projects are just one part of it. I understand the objection to them but as you have noticed already there is so much more technology and information available at the moment. It is going to take all we have to meet our needs. The most exciting thing at the moment is the business model for community supported energy coops. The link to coop power on the website is well worth looking into. There are many communities who have successfully started coops and it is wonderful to see how they did it.
As we start to get rolling on our own stuff here I will let you know what ideas we come up with I appreciate your sharing your process with me as well. Expect more concrete responses in the new year when I am able to focus more on it!
One more thought Betty - We are going to have to be very creative these next few years and find ways to finance projects. Have you thought about working with other existing organizations that might benefit from some of the projects you have in mind? I don't know what groups are already existing in your area but for an example: Perhaps there is a local school that would like to partner on the community greenhouse. There may be grants available for educational programs that you can tap in to to help finance a community greenhouse if the local school participates. Or maybe the students can be a source of labor for the greenhouse as part of their educational experience.
I was at a meeting last night with our incoming state senator, congressperson and county commissioner. they warned us that the state and county budgets are very slim and the organizations that were there asking for $$ started brainstorming ideas to pool their resources to fund their own expansions. We happen to have a school, a library and a senior center all within close proximity of each other and they are going to meet and brainstorm ways they might all help each other. The school doesn't have a library so they might be able to support the expansion of the library in order to meet the needs of their students. The senior center needs more space so they might be able to utilize some space at the school in return for some mentorship programs. Stuff like that.
The money issue is a tough one. We can get most things done with either a lot of money and a little savvy or a little money and a lot of savvy, but no money can leave us dead in the water.
Two things that I have to share - the permaculture concept of waste as an unused resource which needs to be reconnected to the system as an input. And the idea that problems are solutions. These ideas help us look at our current situations creatively, and enable us to reduce our need for external inputs, including the need for money. And often, this approach allows us to link one "problem" to another "problem" and resolve them both with an elegant solution.
With respect to the greenhouse, Del Jimenez, up at NMSU in Alcalde, has been helping folks erect low-cost greenhouses for a couple of decades, and he's really good at it. If you come up with the raw materials he will provide the direction and expertise. Labor is recruited by promoting the event as a hands-on workshop, which it is. I participated in one of these up in Ojitos Frios, and we went from just a foundation to a completed 32x16 foot greenhouse with integral sprinkler system in less than a day.
Del's contact info is
Office: 371 Alcalde St, County Rd 40, Alcalde, NM 87511
Hey there. I believe that my uncle Marty would be a great person as well to participate in Transitioning. He lives in TRC as well, and has been renovating a tiny spanish adobe casa with green materials, found materials, and he tries to leave as small a footprint as possible. His name is Martin Miller, and has a wealth of knowledge about a bunch of stuff that baffles me, his neice...lol. I bet he would really enjoy at least being introduced to the idea of Transitioning. If you contact me, I can try to do some networking on my end as well, seems like they aught to meet and see if the commonalities they share will enable them to establish a dialog. As far as I am concerned, nothing ventured, nothing gained. When I was out there in July, he was proudly showing me how he was redoing his roof with this stuff that had some high green rating, and he really wants to get the windmill up and running again. I adore him, his wife lives in Fl and only comes out to TRC 4 times a year, so I think he might have some time. Yeah, he does work full time, but enjoys a good chin wag as much as the next guy. If you are so inclined, shoot me a mssg via email, and lets get something going. firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't actually know them in real life but I do have a sort of You-Tube Eco-Crush on them. I think I wrote them a letter once talking about one of their cooler videos but I can't say I really know them in the real world.
It's just that I have seen enough of their You-Tube videos that I almost feel like I know them.
Seeing their unique sort of high tech green culture setting up there in an interesting desert area I always liked anyhow, it kind of makes we want to move on some plans I have had for maybe moving there?
If I were you I would just send your uncle some links to their videos and if he likes what he sees tell him to just drop by. TOC is a pretty small place right? I don't think he would have any problem finding them if he just stopped at the local coffee shop and asked where the guy with the flame thrower trampoline lives!