Institute for Solar Living
By Karen Hensley
The Institute for Solar Living is dedicated to the belief that education will help bring about the changes in consciousness and behavior necessary to create an environmentally sustainable future.
Our Mission: Promoting Sustainable Living through Inspirational Environmental Education
The Institute for Solar Living was originally born as a part of Real Goods Trading Corporation, offering educational workshops since 1992. Since its inception, Real Goods has long understood the importance of education in encouraging people to choose information and lifestyles that preserve the environment. Now as a completely separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization since 1998, the Institute for Solar Living focuses solely on education and is greatly expanding many of the educational programs originally started by Real Goods.
The Institute is headquartered in Hopland, California, just 95 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area on Highway 101, at the Real Goods Solar Living Center. The Institute provides an interesting mix of cutting-edge programs that serve to inspire and educate thousands of students and visitors each year.
Solar Living Center
Since 1995, over half a million people have visited the Real Goods Solar Living Center in Hopland, California. The gorgeous 12-acre demonstration center is powered entirely by working renewable energy systems, and features a 5,000 sq. foot straw bale building with innovative passive solar design and the creative use of recycled materials. The beautiful landscape features a permaculture design with a wide selection of organically grown edible and ornamental plant varieties. Numerous interactive displays and specialized tours make the Solar Living Center a major destination and regional learning center for school groups, environmentalists, design professionals and the general public.
Upcoming plans for the Solar Living Center include construction of an onsite campground, and several new interactive displays and exhibits. The Center is open seven days a week and guided site tours are available on Fridays-Sundays at 11am and 3pm. Specialty tours are also available by appointment.
Sustainable Living Workshops
Since 1992, over 3,500 students have attended hands-on workshops on renewable energy, passive solar and ecological design, sustainable living practices and alternative construction techniques such as straw-bale, cob, and bamboo. Students come from all over the United States and from abroad to attend classes taught by professionals in the field.
The Institute’s main annual fundraiser, SolFest has become the West Coast’s premier solar and environmental festival. SolFest has hosted over 35,000 people and featured such inspirational speakers as Ralph Nader, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Amory Lovins, and Winona La Duke. In addition, the event features numerous educational workshops, outstanding entertainment, electric vehicles and the latest in renewable energy and sustainable living technologies and lots of activities for the whole family. SolFest 2001 will take place this year on August 25-26.
The Institute also hosts a powerful year-round intern program that provides intensive hands-on training to students wanting to learn about renewable energy and sustainable living. Interns develop special projects related to the site, help maintain the Solar Living Center, lead tours and attend the workshops of their choice.
To find out more about the Institute for Solar Living, check their website at www.solarliving.org or reach them at: Institute for Solar Living, P.O. Box 836, 13771 So. Highway 101, Hopland, CA 95449 or call (707) 744-2017, fax (707) 744-1682. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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