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Solwest Fair -- it's the people!

This is the "SolWest Archive", the record of events and activities sponsored by EORenew, a "little nonprofit that could" in John Day, Oregon.

Dear SolWest friends: All's said and done, and the last SolWest in John Day is now history. The entire weekend was bittersweet, as old friends and new savored the chance to be together one more time on the venerable Grant County Fairgrounds to share good times and sustainability tips. You can see the photos here, and read the summary of the event here. It was one more wonderful late July SolWest weekend in a long line stretching back 15 years. If you had to miss it, we hope you're attending (and supporting) you local event, or that you can make it to another regional energy fair soon!

We've related to you how EORenew's funding eroded over the last several years. You may see the story on our fair page in the "Dear friends" box. We've lasted longer than we ever thought possible, and we are PROUD of what we've accomplished in our local and renewable energy communities. But the end has arrived for our "little nonprofit that could." After much soul-searching about what to do with the SolWest event, we chose Oregon Rural Action as the organization with a mission most closely aligned with that of EORenew, and we'll be handing our precious event over to them as we ride off into the sunset. Here's a message from ORA:

    After 15 years of success, SolWest Fair for renewable energy will shift sponsorship from EORenew to Oregon Rural Action. Most of the rich and valuable traditions will be retained and the scope will be broadened. SolWest Fair will highlight the "energy for sustainable communities" with three days of workshops, demonstrations, and vendors that focus on renewable energy and sustainability. We plan to offer classes for continuing education credits for contractors, an electric vehicle show, and farm tours. Networking and community will be important whether you're camping or sharing locally grown food. We plan to create a guide to sustainability so that participants will walk away with a seven-year plan shaped by vendors and presenters. Come join the SolWest community and learn about energy efficiency, solar and wind energy, alternatively fueled vehicles, sustainable food and living, healthcare, homegrown prosperity, and more. Please check out our website at www.oregonrural.org to learn more about these issues.

    We are still shaping what SolWest will become, and encourage you to tell us what is important to you. The energy for building sustainable communities will come from far and wide to La Grande. Our rural style creates a unique synergy between self-sufficiency and community, conservation and homegrown prosperity. If you would like to get updates about SolWest and other news/alerts, scroll to the bottom of our website, oregonrural.org, and fill out the form.

Now, as a special 2013 bonus, we'd like to present:
Solar Poetry from SolWest Fair

The Sun Came up
by Tom Bishop

The sun came up at my house today!
And the wind was blowin' in my back yard.
The power company came and took my meter away
And said they'd be back when life got too hard.
But I don't care if they never come back
Cause I've got a scheme, a plan of attack.

I'll get me some modules and a wind genny too,
Some batteries, an inverter, and a controller or two.
I'll set it all up, then sit back and relax.
That's what I'll do. That's my plan of attack
But I won't stop at that, no siree Bob,
I'll ditch all those guzzlers and do a complete job.

I'll recycle the clothes dryer and the e-lectric range.
I'll string out a clothes line and use that, for a change.
I'll be prince of the wind and king of the sun
And lord of the universe whenever I'm done.

What? What's that you say?
You've already done all that and more,
You say you went all the way?
Micro hydro, bio diesel, and a solar thermal array -

By gosh and by golly, aint we a bunch?
We're tired of the power company a eatin' our lunch
We'll show them! Let the chips fall where they may
Cause the sun came up at Our houses today!

Bears, Cherries and Solar
by Jerry Igo

Oh, give me a home where the wild turkeys roam
And the deer and the gray squirrels play,
Where seldom is heard a sensible word
And the bicycles and board sailors stray.

But one time each spring come the darndest thing
About the time the cherries get red,
From the mountains come down and into the town
The bears wander in to get fed.

The young cubs go after the bird feeders
Middle sized bears dig up Swiss chard,
The big 'ol bear tips over the dumpster
And scatters garbage all over the yard.

Today in the middle of the morning
The big bear approached my power shed,
With batteries, inverter, and a sign that said,
Keep out, danger, peligro,
For you could be injured or dead.

Well, the 'ol bear just ripped the door off
And then he disappeared inside,
And reappeared holding two cables,
One red, one black, about to get fried.

He threw them down in disgust and went
To a ground mounted solar array,
Knocked it down, scattered pieces around
Then went to the micro hydro to play.

He ripped up the intake pipe,
Bit it open just for fun,
But to his surprise the water blasted his eyes,
He turned and started to run.

The nozzle, powered by one hundred five feet of head
Squirted well nigh over the treetops
And hit him right in the face
He gave up what he was doing
And moved on to the neighbors place.

This reminded me of a poem my mother used to recite.
She was born in Texas a hundred twenty six years ago
In those days they mostly made up their own entertainment
And it was said that she could start reciting poetry at the
Supper table, and still be going on when it was time for breakfast.

The poem for this occasion was
How me and my Betty did slaughter a b'ar.

Way down south in a cabin, so they say
A great big grizzly bear wandered one day
And seated himself to the contents of
A two gallon pan of milk and potatoes
Of which he made a meal.
Then he ups and looks around to see
What else that he could steal.

The lord of the mansion awoke from his sleep
And into the kitchen he ventured a peep
And then he hollered out to his squaw,
There's a b'ar in the kitchen as big as a cow.
A what? Why, a b'ar. Well slaughter him then.
I will my dear Betty, if you'll first venture in.

So Betty jumped up and the poker she seized,
And the man closed the door, and behind it he squeezed,
And Better laid on the bar her blows
First on the forehead and then on the nose,
And all the while the man would shout
"Now poke with the poker and poke his eyes out."

Till at last poor Betty alone
Had 'ol bruin laid out on the floor
And the lord of the mansion, so brave and so strong
Came out from behind the door.

And he hastened off all the neighbors to tell
What an awful thing that morning bebfell
And published in papers abroad and afar
How me, and my Betty, did slaughter a b'ar.

And my mom used to always say&ldots;.
Now aint that just like a man.

The Seasons of the Sun
by Tania Hoode

The Seasons of the Sun
Floating down a river of light
Bringing pine scented breezes
And radiant delight

Spring, everything grows anew
New plants poking out of the ground
Flowers opening to the sunshine
Rivers flow stronger with winters melt
Birds sing their songs of love and home
The Sun brings it all back home

Summer, lazy warm days
Spent in the Sun
Cooling off in rivers slowed down
Plants grow their seeds to maturity
Woodpecker calls and makes his rounds
And birds now sing of sunshine and mountain breezes
Time for glowing reflections and caring for garden veggies

Fall, the cool breeze blows gently in your ear
Leaves rustle summer memories
And water whispers of cooler days to come
All seem to sigh with another years growth safely spent

Winter, time to hibernate and reflect
Catching up on sleep for all creatures
Everything muffled by snow or rain
Time to remember more challenging modes of life

The Seasons of the Sun
Continually turning, cycling and shifting

And it all starts with the Sun!


by Mike Hewitt

My 1st year at SolWest
2000 was the year
a lot has changed since then
that much is clear

Camped in the tennis courts
No space to be found
Early days at SolWest
Enthusiasm was abound

I was a newbie
My mind was alive
The workshops could teach me
Knowledge was the prize

Steve and Elizabeth, Jerry and Lance
If I can't learn from them
Then I don't stand a chance

And learn I did
For years on end
From Robin and Bob
And Windy and friends

Keynotes, workshops, and the occasional chat
I was learning a ton
But what to do with that

A solar company I'll start
It seems like a plan
With Dick, Glenda, and Kelli
We all say we can

2005 was a big year for us
Our very first sales
We made such a fuss

A kilo-watt here, and kilo-watt there
Solar was growing, as we were aware

By 2007, SolWest was so grand
Live radio at night
There was even a band

Party at Igo's
Or watching lightning strike
Learning from others
What's not to like

Go carts and sun
Plenty to see
The history of SolWest
Is perfect for me

Lance and Jennifer
SolWest at the core
The kind of people
Of legend and lore

While they may not know
The changes they've made
My memories and yours
I'm sure will never fade

Our last year at SolWest
2013 is the year
May it be filled
With good friends and good cheer!

Thank you Jennifer for an amazing 14 years!


The SolWest Message
by Kule Jackman

Joining in community to brighten the world.



Scott Crawford:
Yes I do have a poem,
  SolWest means many things to different people. For me I first came to SolWest # 2 and attended a Grid tie PV workshop with Richard Perez and Joe from Home Power. We went up to Lance and Jennifer for a tour and seeing what they have done over the years as land stewards and farmers was an inspiration to me and all of us in the group. The conversations long into the night with really inspired people, talking energy, politics, personally give me fuel to go out into the crazy world and do good work.
  That is what makes the fair special.

    For 15 years we have ventured to John Day, by bus, bike, and car,
    The dedicated have come from near-and from far,
    Seeking knowledge of solar, hydro-and wind power too,
    Consuming one too many margaritas-before we are through,
    We rode fast in the Electrathon-baked in the sun till we were raw,
    And who can forget Jasun's Bicycle Rickshaw,
    The crowd is diverse-and the characters are many,
    Paul, Kent, Lance, Tom, Dean, Mark, and yes Jerry,
    Some are quite crazy, others quite mellow,
    Now I have something to rhyme with Stoppiello!
    Well thank you all, for a wonderful time,
    Until we meet again- the pleasure was all mine

Thanks, Jennifer!


Raven's got a plan to save Salmon
By Anthony Stoppiello

Two weeks ago in Energy Park at the Oregon Country Faire I was talking to Crow about Solar Save Salmon.
Crow said Raven's got a plan to save Salmon.
Really what is it?
Can't tell you said Crow
Well I want to talk with Raven.
Raven doesn't want to talk with you
Come on Crow set something up
No way was Crow's reply
So I threw Crow some tofu chips--- after some gulps and croaks-OK OK I'll see what I can do
Crow found me a few days later. Raven is having a meeting at the Dalles Dam and you're invited.
Thanks Crow-I threw Crow some crab-2 cracks 1 gulp-off Crow went making a racket till out of sight. When I arrived at the meeting yesterday there was Raven and of course Crow and Wolf, Bear, Butterfly, Snake, Sparrow-all the usual suspects.
At the waters edge frog, Sturgeon even Salmon.
Way in the back at the edge of it all was Coyote.
Everyone was real quiet-hmm I say to myself.
Then over the roar of the Dam I heard Owl and Bat---humans always need lights why we've lived with dark all our lives what are they afraid of?
Hmm. More silence
Raven invites me to speak as I begin to explain--- the idea of solar---not cost effective they say shouts Beaver
Gopher pops up to cloudy and rainy
I start again. Solar---
Not enough sun whispers butterfly
Solar's too ugly from slug we've heard all these reasons before croaks frog.
Now I feel really sad, I too have heard all this before.
I turn and walk away with out hearing Raven's plan
I knew something was odd when I got to this meeting-it felt more like a gathering of like minded folks
As I got further away I thought I heard music
I couldn't really make it out I look back and there is Coyote shouting out-sing-dance human sing.
So here I am at SolWest with like minded folks to sing, dance-tell our stories-share what we know.
Whether it's your first SolWest or you've been to every one.
Thank you for what you do and who you are- it makes me happy to know you're out there moving us to a more renewable energy culture.
So wherever you go and what ever you do-as my friend Gary says-ride easy.


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Solar Poetry from SolWest Fair
(years previous to 2013)
is available as a book from Morning Hill Associates


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