Chris will be a featured teacher at the "Resilience From The Inside Out" seminar at the Omega Institute this summer.
For more information on the weekend seminar, click here:
Solar energy doesn't spill or pollute, it's often cheaper for consumers than many other power sources, and three-quarters of Americans want more of it, according to recent polling. So why do so few buildings sport photovoltaic panels?Payments are rolled back into a revolving fund, providing the seed money for the next solar project.
Any building owner or individual household that chooses to go solar must manage the steep costs of installing panels. Despite tax rebates and government incentives, such initial investments can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
RE-Volv, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, is working to make solar more financially accessible to local community groups. The organization is building a program that allows community centers to make the switch to clean energy with no upfront costs.
Here's how it works: Money donated to RE-Volv by community members and a growing network of solar enthusiasts is used to finance the purchase and installation of solar panels for a community center. Then, instead of paying a power company, the community center makes a monthly payment to RE-Volv. These payments are then rolled back into the revolving fund, providing the seed money for the next solar project. With each new project, RE-Volv increases the size of the fund—making more financing available to facilitate the spread of solar.
For example, the group's first project put solar panels on the Shawl Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, Calif., last year.
"We raise the money [and] finance the system," said Andreas Karelas, executive director of RE-Volv. "[The community centers] pay us back every month and the amount [we bill them] comes up to 15 to 30 percent less than what they were paying for electricity before. And they don't have to put any money down."
There are other organizations that use a crowdfunding model to invest in solar projects, including Solar Mosaic and Collective Sun. The revolving fund is the difference between RE-Volv and these groups. Rather than offering a gradual return on an initial investment, donations to RE-Volv are continually reinvested in solar installations, providing an opportunity for backers—such as community members and solar enthusiasts—to make an impact that lasts well beyond the initial donation. The intent of the donors is critical: RE-Volv's supporters are motivated primarily by a desire to facilitate the spread of solar, rather than to see a financial return.Karelas says he hopes the project will eventually reach a critical mass.
Moreover, while other solar funders help to finance solar installations for a wide variety of businesses, RE-Volv only supports projects for community centers. Karelas lists several reasons for this. First, the mission-driven nature of community centers means RE-Volv's hard work will always go to an organization making a positive impact on people's lives. And by focusing its efforts on well-established community anchors, RE-Volv believes it is able to maximize its marketing impact. Solar panels go up. People talk about it. More people are turned on to the benefits of solar.
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Karelas says he hopes the project will eventually reach a critical mass: Once the solar program has 12 projects sending payments back to the revolving loan fund, it should generate enough revenue to allow RE-Volv to fund one new project each year—without the need to crowdsource new funds to get started. As the organization grows, the number of active projects should increase.
RE-Volv recently raised funds to finance the installation of a 26-kilowatt system for the Kehilla Community Synagogue in Oakland, Calif., an LGBTQ-friendly, progressive faith community of about 350 families, which places emphasis on social justice and sustainability. RE-Volv estimates that the project will save the synagogue a total of $150,000 over a 20-year period and keep an estimated 18,500 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year.
Corey Hill wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. He is the membership and outreach coordinator at Global Exchange. Follow Corey on Twitter at @Newschill.
- Building a Solar Economy: 4 Lessons from Hawai'i
- What's Cheaper than Solar, Slashes Carbon Emissions, and Creates Jobs in Kentucky?
- Like Shopping at Local Businesses? Now You Can Invest in Them, Too
- Venezuela Selloff Worsens as U.S. Oil Exports Sink
- Troika Estimates Greece Will Need Further Financial Support
- Pennsylvania's cost of prisons tops $2 billion: Pa. budget 2014
- Cyprus banks saddled with massive non-performing loans
- German yields fall on talk Draghi wants to stop sterilisation
- U.S. deficit to decline, then rise as labor market struggles: CBO
- Health-Care Law Expected to Take Greater Toll on Workforce
- Ruble Slump Prompts Large Intervention in January
- Russia cancels domestic bond auction citing market conditions
- Anthem to raise some premiums as much as 25%
- World bracing for retirement crisis: Part 2
- Cost, not 'invincibility,' keeps young people from buying health insurance: Cal State survey
- S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to junk status
Image credit: Soniapr
Something amazing is about to happen in the sharing movement.
Since 2005, I have made a point of getting together with friends on a regular basis to make music. It's always on Thursday nights and it's called "Music Night." I recently shared my 20 Jam Tips with legendary folk singer Pete Seeger. He urged me to share them with a wider audience.
If you live in Northern California, come join Chris and me in Sebastopol on Tuesday, March 4th. And bring along at least one friend or family member you think would benefit from becoming more aware about the issues we discuss here at PeakProsperity.com.
Because we've been hard at work over the past 5 months creating new video material. And we have a new 1-hour "accelerated" version of the Crash Course we want to take for a test drive, with both seasoned and brand-new viewers.
- Why are Taxpayers Subsidizing Big Mac Buyers?
- The Story Behind 'Milk Road,' The Bitcoin Cookie Stand
- The Federal Reserve Lies About Everything–Rob Kirby
- The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World.
- The Rise Of China's Super-Rich
- Pipeline rupture report raises questions about TransCanada inspections
- Emissions impossible: Did spies sink key climate deal?
- Why Iran's Economy Might Not Get a Big Break from Sanctions
Eric Ross spent much of the morning on Friday, January 31 standing on an overpass above Interstate 90 in Bellevue, Wash., holding a 30-foot-wide banner that read: "Stop Reichert's NAFTA. Flush the TPP. Vote No on Fast Track."
The "Reichert" called out in Ross' sign is Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and at issue is his active support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sprawling deal that would change the way international trade is conducted in 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, Peru, Australia, and Japan.As opponents of the TPP frequently point out, the deal isn't just about trade: leaked sections of the text, which is not available to the public, reveal that the TPP would also lead to significant changes to policy areas such as intellectual property rights (especially on the Internet), the creation and enforcement of environmental protections, and the labeling and marketing of agricultural products.
Opponents of the deal say that the TPP would roll back the gains of almost every people's movement, especially those concerned with labor and the environment.
Ross says he received wide support for his banner, judging by the number of honks he heard from the vehicles passing beneath. An organizer with the Vashon Island-based organization Backbone Campaign, he says that illustrates that the work he and others have done to educate the public about the TPP over the past few years is starting to pay off.
"For the past 18 months, it was negotiated with essentially no media coverage, and activists had to teach their own representatives what the TPP was," Ross said. "But it isn't as secret as it used to be."All eyes on fast track
On Friday, that secrecy took another hit as opponents gathered in more than 50 cities across North America in a noisy, colorful, continent-wide day of rallies, marches, and teach-ins. Events were held in New York, Toronto, and Mexico City, but smaller towns turned out as well. People marched and rallied in Red Deer, Alberta, held a press conference in Fresno, Calif., and protested in the downtown office of Republican Congressman Charlie Dent in Allentown, Pa.Ross said he saw Friday's gathering in Seattle as more of a celebration than a protest.
The Allentown rally was intended to put pressure on Mr. Dent not to support Trade Promotion Authority. Also known as "fast track," this is special legislation that would allow the Trans-Pacific Partnership to move more quickly through the United States legislature. Lawmakers would get to vote yes or no on the deal, once it is approved by the trade representatives of the 12 negotiating countries, but would be prevented from altering any of its specificities.
Critics of fast-track say that it harms democracy by putting unelected trade negotiators and corporate advisers in charge of trade policy, while specifically excluding input from elected representatives. Some call it unconstitutional, since the United States Constitution grants only Congress the right to make trade agreements.
Events on Friday showed a new focus on demanding that elected representatives commit to opposing fast-track legislation. The march and rally in San Francisco, for example, criticized California Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who has refused to state her position on the fast-track bill since it was introduced by Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Jan. 9.
In Washington state, volunteers with the Backbone Campaign entered the offices of U.S. Representative Dave Reichert, a Republican who actively supports fast track through the "Friends of the TPP" caucus, and issued him a "spineless citation." Democrats Suzan DelBene, Dennis Heck, Derek Kilmer, and Rick Larsen also received "spineless citations" for taking no position on the issue, while fellow House Democrat Jim McDermott received a thank-you letter (with an illustration of a spine, of course). McDermott has pledged to oppose fast track.
Their positions matter because the TPP would almost certainly be approved if Senator Baucus' fast-track bill passes, Lynne Dodson, secretary-treasurer for the Washington State Labor Council, told the crowd gathered in Seattle on Friday.
"No trade deal has ever been defeated once it got to fast track," she said.Cause for celebration
Eric Ross told YES! that he saw Friday's gathering in Seattle's Westlake Center as more of a celebration than a protest because, after years of hard work, the TPP’s momentum appears to be breaking down.This vibrant movement seems likely to build on the victories it's already earned.
Next, right on the heels of the second leak, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters on Jan. 29 that he opposes fast-track legislation and might refuse to bring the bill to a vote.
That led writer David Cay Johnston to wonder whether fast track was now "dead:" "If Reid stands firm," he wrote in Al Jazeera, "it means new trade deals are likely to be worked out in the open, where the people and their elected politicians can debate the merits."
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Click here to chip in $5 or more to help us keep the inspiration coming.
The TPP is also suffering from problems internal to its negotiations, which failed to meet the December 2013 deadline set for them by President Barack Obama. Talks in Singapore last December were bogged down over disputes about protections for agricultural products, among other issues, and no final agreement emerged.
In the wake of that failure, Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari told reporters that negotiators should meet again this month.
"The upcoming meeting is very important," Amari said, "as it will be held before U.S. midterm congressional elections in November."
Amari's statements indicate that Japanese negotiators will push for a deal to be hammered out before stateside electioneering begins in the summer.
For opponents of the TPP, that means that the time to act is now. If Friday's events were any indication, this vibrant movement seems likely to build on the victories it's already earned.
James Trimarco wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. James is web editor at YES! and you can follow him @JamesTrimarco.
Nur Lalji and Molly Rusk provided additional reporting for this story.
The U.S. stock markets had a bad day, as did Japan's and Europe's. Of course, the whole world is linked now, so that's no surprise.
As goes one, so go the others.
A great list of tips and items to check in your home to reduce your risk of fire danger.
- Capitalism Vs. Democracy
- The Rise of 200 Alternative Crypto Currencies
- New Saudi counterterrorism law alarms activists
- Corruption across EU 'breathtaking' - EU Commission
- Rethinking the home ownership dream
- S&P and Gold Extremes and Reversals
- Shell to Sell Brazilian Oil Field to Qatar for $1bn
- Rising Seas
Pictured above: A rendering of Masdar City, a "smart city" in the United Arab Emirates. By Forgemind ArchiMedia under a Creative Commons license from Flickr.com.
"We should make a video."
In this YouTube age, chances are you’ve said this before, or you’ve been around when a co-worker suggested it. Videos can be a solid way to explain a concept or showcase something in a way that words just can’t quite convey.
- Canadian Realtor Accepts Bitcoin Deposits for Residential Properties
- N.C. startup develops a way to turn sand into bricks with bacteria instead of heat
- Dr. Craig Roberts Interview
- Spurred by Global Crises, Germany Weighs a More Muscular Foreign Policy
- Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst
Image source fotografar/flickr
Poverty is not cheap.
According to a 2007 study by the Center for American Progress:
the costs to the U.S. associated with childhood poverty total about $500 billion per year, or the equivalent of nearly 4 percent of GDP.
Like many concerned about the growing credit bubble, Jim Bruce did his best to warn family and friends about the looming risks leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Not many heeded him.
Jim, though, had not only positioned his portfolio defensively for such an event, he also managed to make profits by betting against the stocks in overly leveraged financial institutions. But it's what he did with the money he made that's the interesting story here.
- How an ageing population will change the world
- 6 Signs That 2014 Will Be The Year Of The Super Crash
- Why would the central bank of Nigeria decide to sell dollars and buy Yuan?
- Bernanke Leaves Fed with Record Balance Sheet of $4,102,138,000,000
- 1,400 Sue General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi for Fukushima Disaster
- From PetroDollar to PetroYuan – The Coming Proxy Wars
- Skinny micro-housing designs lets you live between buildings
- Goldman investment sparks political row in Denmark
- USGS Derived Downscaled Climate Projection Portal
- What happens when fossil fuels run out?
- Western U.S. Drought Puts Big Strain on Reservoirs
- California Water Officials Cut Delivery as Drought Grows
- California Drought Reaches New Level of Severity Never Recorded on U.S. Drought Monitor in the State
- How Climate Change is Worsening California's Epic Drought
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