It Takes a (Green) Village to Raise a (Green) Child
Since 1978, our mission has been to provide education about the benefits of renewable energy and to empower people to reduce their ecological footprint. Now we are taking this a step further with Solar for Schools, a community outreach program that helps schools educate students about these principles while raising some much-needed funds.
“Any school can be a Community Solar Partner. We have created a unique partnership where parents, faculty or anyone who wants to support a particular school can go solar with Real Goods and we will donate $500 to the school,” explains Anthony Abaté, a Real Goods Solar Power Consultant. The $500 donations are great for the school, but Real Goods provides other benefits as well, such as donating books and solar education tools, and providing free online classes from the Solar Living Institute for teachers and students. We even host field trips to the Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA.
Woodland Star Charter School in Sonoma, CA is one of the Solar for Schools participants and on Friday, May 20th, 2011 a group of 13 students, a teacher and three parents from Woodland Star made a pilgrimage of sorts to the Solar Living Center and learned that “sustainability” isn’t just an eco-buzzword — it’s an abundant way of life. The group received a free tour of the Solar Living Center and its grounds that included learning how yurts and straw bale houses are constructed, walking among the beautiful gardens and ponds, playing on the solar-powered carousel and visiting the “memorial car grove,” where trees grow through aging car chassis in a display of nature’s power. In the afternoon, the students spent time building solar-powered boats. Their teacher, Philip Stone, noted, “The kids thought the straw bale house was really cool, but they truly enjoyed tinkering and figuring out how to make the solar-powered boats move in the water. That alone was worth the trip.” Natalie de Renzy, Real Goods Marketing Coordinator, explains, “These hands-on experiences are what bring the concept of renewable energy home. It’s one thing to see a solar system on a roof; it’s another to build something that is powered by the technology.”
There is a paradigm shift occurring in how we view the management of earth’s resources, and there’s no better catalyst than our youth. Before long, these eighth-grade students will be making decisions about their own futures and the futures of others. It’s our hope that introducing them to the elegant simplicity of solar power will intrigue them enough to influence their views on renewable energy as future consumers, voters and maybe even policymakers.
“I grew up thinking that pollution and waste were necessary evils that I was powerless against,” observes one Woodland Star parent. “As an adult it becomes more difficult to change established ways of thinking, even if they are faulty. The best thing we can do is enlighten children about more environmentally responsible choices. We can’t just charge mom and dad with this responsibility — businesses and schools should also get involved.”
If you are interested in supporting a local school by going solar or are interested in solar learning tools, please contact Real Goods at 1-888-56-SOLAR, or Anthony Abaté directly at 707-331-9679.