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Solwest Fair -- it's the people!

This is the "SolWest Archive",
the record of events and activities sponsored by EORenew,
a "little nonprofit that could" in John Day, Oregon.

SolWest farewell letter
Fall 2013

Dear Friends,
  In the fall of 1998, four renewable energy enthusiasts met to plan the organization we knew as EORenew (Eastern Oregon Renewable Energies Nonprofit, Inc), and the first SolWest Fair. EORenew’s first office was a donated closet, from which calls and emails went out all over the west to organize our first, two-day event in 1999. With the generous help of Home Power Magazine, contact lists and advertising were turned into fifty-one exhibitors, twentynine workshops, and a host of exciting activities including “Humans' First Electric Migration” (Bob Maynard’s electric truck, which drove on solar power alone from Klamath Falls to SolWest in John Day). Fifteen hundred people showed up for the event.  The next year, our organization moved into a real downtown office (courtesy of Jerry Franklin/Eastern Oregon Realty), and in 2002, SolWest expanded to three days. We began hosting hands-on workshops to train homeowners and solar installers. Our workshops added solar electric systems to the fairgrounds in 2000, and to our office rooftop the next year. This work expanded opportunities for solar in Oregon, as we used our arrays and our influence to leverage passage and compliance with the Oregon Net Metering Bill HB 3219, and the Solar LRT installer license SB932.
  The years passed quickly with many activities for our small organization: home tours, classes for children and adults, projects on homes and businesses, newsletters to our members. We answered several queries a week for technical and sourcing information. Renewable energy gained credibility in the schools and community. We taught energy workshops at Outdoor School each spring, and as a guest instructor in the classroom each winter.
  Then the economic downturn hit, and the housing industry crashed. The modest streams of income we had cobbled together to support our programs dwindled to a trickle. Only the dedication of our volunteers and supporters kept SolWest going as the solar industry struggled to regain its footing, and many of our exhibitors just faded away. It was you, yes you: SolWest presenters, exhibitors, volunteers, and you folks that come to participate and make it all worthwhile; you were the ones that kept SolWest going! There are too many of you to name here (you may find a few of the highlights in the left-hand column), but we appreciate each and every one of you, as you have each contributed something vital to our success.
  EORenew has, in a sense, already done our job: those who wished to learn about Renewables and Energy Efficiency here in eastern Oregon have taken advantage of the opportunity offered by SolWest, and brought it into the mainstream. We are PROUD of what we’ve accomplished! The results of our projects and SolWest events are a visible, positive contribution to our region. We’re “the little nonprofit that could.” Fifteen years ago, when we started SolWest Fair, they said we couldn’t succeed. If someone had told us that we’d not only succeed, we’d do it for fifteen years, we’d have jumped for joy! It’s hard to be sad about our nonprofit going away, when we see how much of a positive effect we’ve had.
  Is it enough: have we achieved energy sustainability? No! Until every home or commercial building is constructed with an eye to how it fits into its community’s renewable energy plan, until every person thinks about the energy required to fill their individual needs, and tries to source that energy responsibly, we have not reached our objective. Our hope is to reach that “tipping point” where, because each of us does the best we can, we set an example for our friends and neighbors, and the ripples of influence spread out in concentric circles, wider and wider, until the demand for sustainable energy is a universal, irresistible force around the world.
  As our little nonprofit rides off into the sunset, we are handing off SolWest to Oregon RuralAction. Watch for folks wearing ORA tags at SolWest, where they’ll be exhibiting, presenting, and volunteering. ORA plans to take up where we leave off, inspiring the transition to sustainable energy in an ever wider area of the Inland Northwest. We wish them the best!

Available for download:

2013 SolWest Program Guide (24 page pdf, 3MB)
SolWest 2013 poster (8.5x14" pdf 600KB)

 

 

SolWest Program Guide Archives:

2012 SolWest Program Guide
2011 SolWest Program Guide
2010 SolWest Program Guide
2009 SolWest Program Guide
2008 SolWest Program Guide
2007 SolWest Program Guide
2006 SolWest Program Guide
2005 SolWest Program Guide

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