Dear Friends and Supporters,
Happy New Year! We are happy to report that the Sacred Earth Lodge has been built and our first year has been very successful and sustainable, so we will be closing out this project on GlobalGiving. Your support has helped us create a wonderful center for Trees, Water & People to host guests, training events, and volunteer groups, and for that we are very grateful. In our first year of operation we hosted several workshops on renewable energy, earth based construction, and green business development for Native people. Additionally, we hosted over 250 guests at the Lodge! We couldn't have done it without your support through this GlobalGiving project.
We hope you will stay up to date with our work at the Sacred Earth Lodge through our website, blog and Facebook. Thank you again for all of your support!
Yakoke, many thanks!
There have been a lot of firsts for the Sacred Earth Lodge (SEL) this year, and many great opportunities to develop its potential as a training center and guest lodge in the heart of Indian Country. In many ways, it was a good thing to have the winter and spring to get the lodge ready for the busy training season of May-September. We truly appreciated your support in helping us open the Lodge to students, volunteers, and visitors. What a great first year!
Welcomed over 250 guests and volunteers
We were honored to welcome over 250 guests and volunteers to the Sacred Earth Lodge this year. These friends came from all over the country to support the Tribal Renewable Energy Program. Guests volunteered at the Solar Warrior Farm, came from the Pine Ridge community to share their knowledge and to learn new skills, relaxed and learned about the Lakota culture, and some came to work on the various earth-based demonstration buildings at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) campus.
We’ve had a lot of feedback about what people enjoyed and what they thought we could improve at the Lodge. SEL is hosting the last groups of the season this week, so now it is time to gather in the last of the harvest at Solar Warrior Farm and begin planning for next year.
Hosted four major workshops at SEL
As is often the case, when something is being installed at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC), we use that opportunity to share the experience and knowledge in a workshop format. January’s solar hot water heater was an essential feature of the Sacred Earth Lodge and our first training on this technology.
Another first was the Compressed Earth Block (CEB) Workshop that took advantage of brand new technology in the field of earth-based building materials. Once the walls were up, the summer was spent putting on a roof, front door and windows, blowing in cellulose insulation (another natural material), and putting a beautiful, rustic red lime plaster. In another first, TWP and LSE partnered with GRID Alternatives to install a solar electric (PV) system that provides power for the office and supplements power for the Lodge. A great way to reduce the carbon footprint for both buildings at one time!
Our Green Business Development in Indian Country training was also well attended and came at just the right time with the installation of WiFi at the Lodge. We are so thankful for the hard work and the continuing support needed to expand infrastructure for the Lodge and our partner, Lakota Solar Enterprises' office. Throughout the summer's workshops, the Lodge proved to be an excellent base for the programs and activities we want to continue within tribal communities.
Next Steps: Parking and Handicap Access
One of the last major projects at the Sacred Earth Lodge is to build in parking facilities and to create handicap access thoughout the building, including a handicap access ramp for the SEL as well as an extra bathroom on the first floor. We also want to create better access for elders and those who may have trouble navigating the natural landscape around RCREC. These projects will require a lot of work, but we know with your support we can make the lodge an even better place for everyone to enjoy. Thank you!
It has been a very busy summer up at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, headquarters of TWP's Tribal Renewable Energy Program and home to the Sacred Earth Lodge! We have hosted many groups of volunteers as well as Native American trainees, and having the Lodge available to our guests has made a huge difference in the quality of the Program. We thank you, our generous friends and donors, for your support of this important project!
New Septic System Installed
This is not the most glamorous part of today's update, but I am happy to report that we have installed the new septic system at Sacred Earth Lodge. This is obviously an important part of any building's infrastructure and your donations have helped us to complete this part of the Lodge.
Connected to the World: WiFi Installed at the Lodge
For most of us, access to WiFi is a normal part of life, not a luxury to be desired. However, for many people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, WiFi is not accessible due to cost and poor infrastructure. Well, we are happy to report that we now have WiFi at the Sacred Earth Lodge. The internet access has improved the learning environment and has cut down on transportation costs to locations on the reservation that do have internet. The WiFi was installed just in time for the Green Business Development training in June, allowing students to do research for their business plans right inside the Lodge. In addition, it has created even more of a coffee house environment for students and guests alike.
Summer Workshops and Volunteers at the Sacred Earth Lodge
The summer months are the busiest time for the Tribal Program and the Sacred Earth Lodge. Over the past few months, we have hosted multiple training events and have many more on the schedule through the Fall. The Sacred Earth Lodge provides a quality learning space for our students as well as comfortable accommodations for multi-day workshops. Since our last report, we have hosted the Building with Compressed Earth Block, Green Business Development, and Solar Air Heating workshops. Each training has had a diverse group of students from tribes around the country. Students have been very happy with the new Sacred Earth Lodge and the comfortable space it provides for learning and socializing. Next on the schedule is a Solar Air Heater/Solar Electric training that we will host in partnership with GRID Alternatives, Solar Energy International, University of Colorado, and Thunder Valley.
In addition, we have hosted many guests at the Lodge to volunteer on a variety of projects, including compressed earth block construction, strawbale construction, and organic farming at Solar Warrior Farm. In total, we have had more than 200 people visit the Sacred Earth Lodge this summer!
Clinton Global Initiative
At the Clinton Global Initiative event in Denver, we announced our commitment to green business development in Indian Country. In partnership with Henry Red Cloud, owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, and many other partners, we look forward to fulfilling this commitment and creating a better future for Native entrepreneurs. Your investment in the Sacred Earth Lodge and the Tribal Program is a major part of this effort. Thank you again for your generosity!
We are excited to report that the Sacred Earth Lodge is now hosting groups and workshops! Thanks to generous donors like you, we have been able to open the doors to this one-of-a-kind training facility and provide Native American students with a beautiful and comfortable learning space. The new Lodge is a great addition to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) and offers our Tribal Renewable Energy Program room to grow into a more impactful program for Native American communities. Here are some exciting updates since our last report was published:
Solar Heating System Installed at the Sacred Earth Lodge
As we mentioned in the last report, we planned to use your generous donations to help install a solar hot water heater at the new Lodge. Well, we are excited to report that the new system was installed in early February and it is running great! We heard from our friend Specter, who donated his time and renewable energy background to install the system, a few weeks after the installation was completed: "I performed checks and maintenance on the new system. Not only was the building quite a bit warmer than the outside air temperature, it also felt good. So good, that I ran around checking the electric baseboards installed in the bedrooms and bathrooms, thinking that they might by cranked up. But they were all turned down. The solar thermal was carrying the heat load of the building all on its own."
First Native Student from Alaska
We used the installation of the new solar hot water heater as an opportunity for learning and training. This was the first time we had taught a course on solar hot water systems and also the first time we had a student from Alaska visit RCREC! Elmer Melton is from the Noorvik Native Community in Noorvik, Alaska. Elmer describes himself as “a miser in energy use” and has had experience with energy conservation programs in his community. In his application, he said he “would like to learn how to make hot water with renewable energy sources” so he can share this knowledge with his native community. With fuel costs being so high in his community, Elmer is eager to learn about clean, renewable energy alternatives. It was great to have the Lodge open for Elmer!
Henry Red Cloud Honored by White House
On Thursday, April 17, our Tribal Program Partner and co-manager of the Sacred Earth Lodge was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his efforts to promote and expand solar deployment in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Congrats to Henry!
Training Season Starting
Our training season is just getting started, and the Lodge will be more important than ever this spring, summer and fall. We kick off the season next week with a straw bale volunteer trip, which gives people from all walks of life the opportunity to learn how to build their own sustianable and affordable buildings. Next, we will continue our green building theme with a Compressed Earth Block Training in May, working in collaboration with EARTHinBLOCKS. In July, we will host our second Native American Green Business Development Training, followed by our first dual Solar Air Heater/ Solar Electric training in partnership with GRID Alternatives. More information on most of these events can be found at www.solarwarriors.org.
Thank you for helping to build this incredible facility for our students. We greatly appreciate your support as we continue to improve the Sacred Earth Lodge. Our next big project is expanding our leech fields - not the most glamorous of projects but very necessary. Stay tuned for more updates and please consider supporting this project in the future!
The Sacred Earth Lodge (SEL) has been open to the public for three months now! We have already had several groups stay at the new faciltiy and we look forward to hosting many more visitors and Native American trainees in 2014.
At the end of this month, Native American students from across the country (including our first student from Alaska!) will join us at the new Lodge to learn how to install a solar hot water system. This will be our first Solar Hot Water Heater Training. Once the system is in place, it will join our growing selection of on-site renewable energy demonstration units. Along with our existing solar air heaters, wind turbines, and grid-tied and battery-tied photovoltaic systems, we will now have a solar hot water system that can be taken apart and reassembled class after class. This equipment gives us the ability to do hands-on training, which is so important to the learning process and what makes our training program unique.
With your donations, you are supporting this important new clean energy system and contributing to SEL’s low impact, sustainable building design. The hot water generated in this solar water system will be mixed with anti-freezing agents and circulated through a radiant heat floor to keep the building warm, using only the sun’s rays!
We can not do this important work without people like you! Thank you for your support and we look forward to sharing more updates with you throughout the year.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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