April 27, 2009

Shawnee Energy Fest set for May 2-3

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Showing people how they can save money, energy and the planet is the goal of the inaugural Shawnee Energy Fest set for May 2-3 in Jackson County.

Community members, organizations from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, local businesses and others concerned about Planet Earth are joining to present a weekend full of workshops, demonstrations and valuable information.

The event will be at the GreenRetreat, about three miles from Carbondale where Chautauqua Road meets Illinois Route 127. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

“We are very excited to be putting this together and to know that now more than ever people are looking for better ways of going about their business -- better as in smarter, cheaper, healthier. Everyone is sure to encounter some empowering ideas at the Shawnee Energy Fest,” said Kris Schachel, coordinator of the Southern Illinois Center for a Sustainable Future, Inc.

Featured workshop topics include energy efficiency, renewable energy, forest issues, conservation, local foods, geothermal energy, bio-fuels, composting, solar power, permaculture, off-grid living, power smart pricing for the home, bicycle maintenance/repair, organic farming and bio-intensive home gardening and much more

The Composters, SIUC speech communication doctoral students Alison Fisher and Janet Donoghue, will perform their three-part act, “Goodbye Waste…Hello Black Gold!” It’s a humorous workshop helping participants redefine how they think, speak and act with regard to the environment. Wayne Wiseman, with certification from The Permaculture Institute of Australia and teaching experience around the world, will discuss basic principles and applications of permaculture’s ecological farming practices.

Retreat participants can tour the recreational vehicle of the future. It operates courtesy of 350 watts of solar power, 400 wind power watts, a 700-amp hour battery bank and a 30-amp charge controller. It features insulating curtains, LED lighting, a solar water heater and a 5.5 cubic foot, 12-volt refrigerator that consumes just 24 amp hours per day.

Even the retreat’s music is “off of the grid.” Home Eco, an environmentally friendly home products business in St. Louis, is providing the power. There’s also a vendor showcase, tours of GreenRetreat, concessions and more.

There’s a kids’ tent, too, packed with activities including the Energy Bike and art fun led by Carbondale Community Arts volunteers. Little River Research and Design of Carbondale will present their Emriver Em2 model, showing how riverbed processes work. The Magic Storyteller will entertain and Pat York, recreation program manager for Shawnee National Forest, will teach about music and culture through the “Rhythm, Harmony and Nature” program on Saturday. There will be Science Center educational demonstrations, and on Sunday the PBS Kids Van will be there as well.

Pre-registration is $7 per day or $10 for the whole weekend. It’s $8 per day at the gate. Admission is free for children 12 and younger. In an effort to “go paper free,” organizers ask people to register online at www.ShawneeEnergyFest.com.

The event is car-free. There’s very little parking on site. Participants can park at the south SIU Arena parking area (Lot 56) and take free shuttles from there to the event. Shuttles will run approximately every 15 minutes.

“People are always amazed at how easy it is to save money by just adjusting habits. Energy consumption often costs nothing in terms of quality of life,” according to Aur Beck, owner and chief technician of Advanced Energy Solutions, a sponsor for the Shawnee Energy Fest.

Sponsors include Southern Sustainability, the SIUC Ecodawgs, Advanced Energy Solutions, Shawnee Group Sierra Club, GreenRetreat, LLC, Ameren: Act on Energy, Association of Professional Energy Consultants, Gator Automotive, Attitude Designs and The Southern Illinoisan. For information about participating in the event as a sponsor, presenter or vendor, call 618/893-1717 or look online at www.ShawneeEnergyFest.com. You can also find additional details and directions to the fest at www.greenretreat.org.