How could a marathon in the woods with couches, Sasquatch, cake, Nutella sandwiches, and a social experiment on how many times you can hear The Little Mermaid Soundtrack without going insane not be awesome? Congratulations to all those who Beat the Blerch!
We (solar) rocked it at SolarFest this year! We powered three bands and several speakers for Seattle City Light, PA systems, electric bikes for Seattle Electric Bike, and cell phones.
We also celebrated one year in business! Thanks to all of you that have encouraged us, supported us, and helped us grow during our first year in business.
We arrived early at Gas Works Park to get the trailer set up before they closed the roads for the Solstice Parade. Sixty degrees and the sun is shining with one of the best views of downtown as our backdrop. Stages, food trucks, tents, and a beer garden all being put into place. All I could think is, wow, this is by far the biggest event we've done so far. And, wow, we're a part of the after party for the historic Fremont Solstice Parade.
We had a prime spot (besides having some minor shading issues from neighboring balloons) right in front of the beer garden entrance. We faced West to take advantage of the longest day, which means in Seattle the sun didn't set until 9:11. We brewed some solar coffee and tea, set up a camp of chairs, and plugged in the chargers. Here we go!
It's all kind of a blur looking back. One minute we're putting the final touches on everything and taking pictures. The next time I look up, it's a wave of a thousand painted, naked bike riders flooding into the park—you can no longer see the green fields and hills.
It didn't take long before we were plugging phones in and showing the Solar Rover off. Before long our outlets were maxed out—and we even had lines at times. We met some nice people who waited around for their devices to charge. So many people had zero charge and were grateful to charge up so they could call and text their friends to meet up—I've never been hugged so much for providing a service! Paul even helped a Chinese couple with their English while they waited. We're all about the details.
The festive vibe of the Fremont Solstice Parade gave Mardi Gras a run for its money. I came home with only about three business cards left. Happy summer, everyone!
We had a nice time and curious crowd at Shilshole Marina Day. With most boats having batteries and some having solar, we fit right in. June gloom set in for the day, but we still were producing 300-600 watts (the most-asked question of the day). I love it! Solar not only works in Seattle, but even on a cloudy day.
When I was researching solar schools in 2008, the clear choice was Solar Energy International. It is not only a great nonprofit school set in Colorado where mountains meet plateaus and hippies meet farmers, but it has students and hires teachers from all over the country that can turn into connections and community when you go back home.
I was fresh out of SEI's PV school in 2009 when I went on my first Green Home Tour in Durham, North Carolina. My love for different kinds of dwellings runs deep, so I was excited to go out and see real-world energy-efficient applications being implemented. One of the homes I toured that day had a solar thermal system installed by Honey Electric Solar. This is where I met Josiah Snovel, Honey Electric Solar lead installer and SEI alumnus (Josiah had ridden his bicycle all the way from the shores of North Carolina to Paonia to study at SEI!).
Shortly after meeting Josiah at the Green Home Tour, I was contacted by Rebekah Hren, Honey Electric Solar Vice President, SEI instructor, and author of The Carbon-Free Home and A Solar Buyer's Guide for the Home and Office. Although Rebekah wasn't teaching at SEI when I was there, other instructors referred me to her since we both lived in Durham. I had already reached out to Rebekah and had met her and toured her net-zero home. The connections I made at SEI and that day on the Green Home Tour are what lead to my first-ever solar job with Honey Electric Solar.
When I decided to start Northwest Solar Rover last year, Tom Honey, Honey Electric's owner, was the first person I reached out to. Without hesitation, he encouraged me and offered to help. Having Tom as a partner to build the Solar Rover could not have worked out any better. Tom is a master of his craft. His attention to detail, solar installations, and customer care are always above and beyond. I'm so proud when I show the Solar Rover off. I always get nice comments about how impressed people are by its design and construction. Thank you, Tom. (And a quick thank you to Paul for his suggestion to add the USB ports. People love them.)
This year we were invited by 21 Acres to be a part of their Green Home Tour last Saturday to show off the Solar Rover. It was already a special invite. I had worked for Sunergy Systems in Seattle, and I’d been at 21 Acres before to represent the PV system Sunergy installed there. It was a beautiful spring, volatile-weather kind of day, and everything went smoothly. Hundreds of people showed up, and it was a success for all. We met some great people (and dogs), got some great ideas, had some delicious food, and took a nice stroll around their beautiful property.
If you haven't been out to 21 Acres, I highly recommend it. It's a farm, market, event center, and school. It's a LEED platinum-certified property in a beautiful setting in Woodinville. So a big thank you to 21 Acres for having us on the 2014 Green Home Tour, and for helping us bring it full circle.
We are honored to be Solar Washington's project of the month. It's very fitting that we were chosen for the month of February. My dad's birthday is this month, and in a small way this is a gift I can give him. Without him, Northwest Solar Rover would not exist.
Watching him be a successful entrepreneur for thirty years (also marked by this month) is what gave me the courage to start my own business. When I told him about my idea, he said I should go for it. In every step of this new venture, his values of quality, attention to detail, and creating a trusted brand are with me.
I've been lucky to have a lot of support from my family over the years, and now I want to use this business to give some of that back to my community.
And a big thank you to Solar Washington for making us their project of the month!
The rain and wind couldn't stop us from talking about solar, handing out brochures and cards, seeing the mayor talk, and riding electric bikes at Sustainable Ballard Festival.
We LOVE Ballard!
Thanks to all who visited us at the NW Solar Fest yesterday! We couldn't have asked for sunnier weather. Glad to partner with ShelterKraft Werks to power their awesome shipping cargo container home. We are now officially open for business!