For years, we’ve talked about some kind of solar/energy show in Harvard Square. Tom is the “only political show” in the Square. In the daytime, he does sing-a-longs with the kids and at night he does his political shows on hemp and war and peace and justice, conspiracy, fantasy, and fact. Sometimes he displays the WWII posters I gave him. A few times, he hosted some of my solar devices. One season, I even got a street performer’s license and went out myself about once a month. He has always been willing to share his pitch with others, especially other political groups but nobody’s taken him up on it, yet.
Talking it over, we got to a basic wish list:
electric wheelchair – collapsible if possible, perhaps a demonstration model of something that could be used in developing countries
solar awning – able to power the chair, audio/video, computer, telecom, possibly lights, another demonstration model for camping or emergency preparedness
pedal power back-up – for both mobility and power generation
battery pack – demountable from the chair for separate use
The form factor should also allow for the design of the “Rascal” as a puppet.
Tom was thinking about using off-the-shelf components and getting the equipment through sponsorship with possibly an income stream through commissions on sales. Not sure if the market is imaginative and mature enough for that.
Alternatively, I see a number of different groups which are already working on parts of this puzzle. The Leverage Freedom Chair ( http://mlab.mit.edu/lfc/Welcom… ) from MIT Mobility Lab
( http://mlab.mit.edu/ ) has been in the online news the last week and is one available jumping off point. It is a hand-levered wheelchair designed for the developing world and off road use. The designers have been working and testing their ideas for a number of years now. Or something could be built with the help of the chopper bike crew of Skul ( http://www.scul.org/skynet/ind… )
The solar group at Boston Latin School ( http://www.blsyouthcan.org/BLS… ) has a solar tent, perhaps they can help with the solar awning or there’s a Facebook friend of Tom’s who works in a solar retail store and could come up with something that fits.
There are college Energy, Environmental, and Sustainability Clubs at many of the colleges in the area
( http://collegeenergy.org/ ), some with hundreds of members. There are many local green groups in the area from Union of Concerned Scientists ( http://www.ucsusa.org/ ), which is also in Harvard Square, to Maasai Stoves and Solar (http://www.maasaistovessolar.org/index.html) which builds high efficiency woodstoves with the Maasai peoples in Tanzania and installs small solar electric systems on their homes.
The Cambridge Climate Emergency Action Group has a subcommittee (of which I am a member) working on climate emergency preparedness. It plans to participate in Cambridge Science Festival
( http://cambridgesciencefestiva… ) and will concentrate on simple solar and solar is civil defense, with solar displays in some of Cambridge’s many squares. They might want to help too.
The Boston Area Solar Energy Association and the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and the MA Technology Collaborative are among the many other organizations worth contacting as well.
I can envision a new venue for energy education in Harvard Square where Uncle Scam has his autonomous power station and groups like the college and high school energy clubs, the citizen’s preparedness groups, environmental, social, and green business groups could come by for a weekend or two all summer. This year could be a practical demonstration and public performance of what renewable, green technology is capable of now, today. With enough power and the right telecom tools, Tom could be recording, receiving, and broadcasting to the Web from Harvard Square by means of sunlight every day he works this summer.
If enough of the right people are interested, this does not seem like an outlandish project to me and there’s no reason why it couldn’t be replicated in cities and towns across the country and the world.
cross posted to globalswadeshi.net and dailykos, eurotrib, and greenmassgroup.com