June 24, 2009

Shawnee Energy Fest set for June 27-28

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Plans for the inaugural Shawnee Energy Fest hit a weather roadblock in May, but the event is back on track and now set for this weekend, June 27-28, at GreenRetreat in Murphysboro.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale students and organizations, community members, local businesses and others who care about the environment are organizing the festival, a family style event featuring workshops and presentations, a vendor showcase, live music and activities for kids.

The action kicks off at 10 a.m. each day and continues until 6 p.m. Saturday. It wraps up at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 per day or $10 for the entire weekend. Kids 12 and younger get in free.

A panel discussion will focus on local food and farming. Festival attendees will learn how to cut energy costs and create organic gardens. Presenters will discuss geothermal heating, hot water systems and socially responsible use of plants to conserve energy, water and soil. Workshops will offer helpful information about energy efficiency, recycling, bicycle maintenance and repair, and much more.

“People are always amazed at how easy it is to save money by just adjusting habits; energy conservation often costs nothing in terms of quality of life,” said Aur Beck, owner and chief technician of Advanced Energy Solutions, one of the festival’s sponsors.

Home Eco, a St. Louis environmentally friendly home products business, will power “off of the grid” music utilizing a system featuring three solar roof panels, a watt inverter and other components. The EmpowerMints, Parsley & Sagebrush, Tomcat Hill Social Club, Loose Gravel and Hot!Sauce are going to serve up musical entertainment.

Visitors can also tour the “RV of the Future,” a solar/wind/ethanol-powered vehicle. There also will be a raffle for battery-powered mower from Neuton Power.

Among the presenters is a group of SIUC students, including Jon Dyer, Megan Pulliam and Katie Lenza. They will discuss their experience at Power Shift in Washington, D.C. The students have been active in the EcoDawgs organization and the campus Green Fee support effort and will present “Dispatches from the Front Lines of Youth Climate Movement” at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Justin Harrell, physical plant electrical engineer at SIUC and president of the Southern Illinois chapter of the Association of Professional Energy Consultants, will highlight energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with a pair of presentations. “Lighten Your Carbon Footprint with Energy Efficiency” is at noon Saturday while “Energy Audits 101” is at noon Sunday.

Presenters also include Brad Klein, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-accredited architect from White and Borgognoni Architects, P.C., and Brian Rodely of the Ilinois Environmental Protection Agency office in Marion. John Root of Muscatine, Iowa, will present a wind turbine history and lead a workshop where participants learn to construct a solar oven. Marty Davis of Davis Caves in Armington will talk about designing and constructing earth sheltered homes while Ted Natsui, who was part of Florida International University’s award-winning solar decathlon team, will discuss solar home design.

Along with workshops, vendor showcases, GreenRetreat tours, music, food and guest speakers, there will be a youth tent full of fun and educational activities. Youngsters can participate in the Energy Bike demonstration, a chance to see what it feels to be a “power plant.” They’ll learn about hydrology at Little River Research and Design’s Em2 river model display. Angie Kuehl, of the University of Illinois Extension Service, will talk about the power of wind 4-H curriculum while Pat York, Shawnee National Forest recreation program manager, will direct the “Rhythm and Harmony and Nature” activity.

You’ll find a wide variety of cuisines there including vegetarian options, slushy wine drinks and much more. Visitors can even get a massage for $1 per minute or enjoy a Japanese-style reiki healing treatment.

Organizers say the goal of Shawnee Energy Fest 2009 is helping people save money, reduce the use of fossil fuels and boost the local economy.

The GreenRetreat site is about three miles from Carbondale where Chautauqua Road meets Illinois Route 127. You can find directions at www.greenretreat.org. But, organizers hope to make it a car-free event. If you park at the SIU Arena parking lot 56, you can catch a free shuttle to the fest. They’ll run about every 15 minutes. There is limited overflow parking on site for $5 per vehicle.

Additional sponsors include Southern Sustainability, the Shawnee Group Sierra Club, John A. Logan College, Attitude Designs, The Southern Illinoisan and GreenRetreat, LLC.

For more information and the full schedule of presentations, call 618/893-1717 or look online at www.ShawneeEnergyFest.com. You can also get additional details by logging on to www.greenretreat.org.