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The Path to a More Sustainable Life

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Now I know how Lewis and Clark felt.  If you’re from the Pacific Northwest you know the story; in the winter of 1805-06 the L&C expedition team was stuck along the Oregon coast at Fort Clatsop (Astoria Oregon) huddled down for months because of incessant rains and sickness. It certainly wasn’t their favorite experience as it rained every day but 12 of the 106 days they were camped at the Fort. That seems all too familiar to those of us living in the Pac NW in 2010 where it seems like it will never stop raining on our parade.

Normally, September in Oregon has some of the best weather in the entire country.  It is my favorite time of year and why we chose the September 18 date for our outside/backyard solar celebration. It was predicated on the norm – unfortunately this isn’t a normal year and Saturday’s showers dumped 0.97 inches of rain on Portland breaking the daily rainfall record for the date. It’s the second time in a week and a half that a downpour has led to a broken record. If active storm fronts continue to persist, this will easily be one of the wettest Septembers on record for Portland. So far, we’re over two inches ahead of schedule and we’ve got another ten days to go in the month.

For two weeks we anxiously watched the weather forecasts and prayed for the sun to shine.  On Wednesday, September 15, I polled many of the event sponsors and got a mixed reaction on how to proceed.  About half replied, “We’re Oregonians so we’re used to rain and this won’t stop people from attending”, while the other half said “Cancel it because many people simply won’t show up for an outdoor event during a thunderstorm.”  In the past, when faced with similar circumstances, we bit the bullet and decided … yeah, we are Oregonians, so full steam ahead, but then when the squall hit and put a damper on the entire event, we regretted being so hardy.  Too much effort, time and money spent for result. We didn’t want to keep making this same mistake, so we cancelled our solar celebration on Thursday, September 16.

In the end, it was the right decision. For those of you that weren’t on the invite list, this is the message we sent out to everyone via Evite:

 “Hello friends and neighbors: We’ve been very pleased that so many of you signed up for this solar open house. Alas, we have decided to reschedule this event and we’re sorry for short notice, but we’ve been following the forecast and it looks like about the time of the event on Saturday, the weather is expected to be most unforgiving especially for an outdoor / backyard event.

We usually don’t let the rain stop us, but this time …

Okay, it’s not quite the “perfect storm” but this was supposed to be a “Shine” event – not a rain or shine event! Solar works fine in the rain, but people often don’t, so we’re rescheduling for later in the fall at a more suitable venue. This is already in the works. We’ll get back in touch with you regarding the details. Thank you all for your understanding.”
~ Mac & Noriko
Of course some ardent solar advocates didn’t want us to cancel because they thought it might bring some negativity on the idea of using solar energy in such a climate.  This simply isn’t the case.  Our solar system hummed right along about 2/3 of the day until late afternoon/early evening when it began raining cats ‘n dogs.
No, it was the attendees I was concerned about as I visualized a hundred people huddled miserably under blue tarps and expensive rental canopies bitching about the weather.  I don’t think we’d have achieved the same good-spirited feeling of COMMUNITY and celebration of shine that I was counting on.  So now we’re working with SWNI, Mr. Sun Solar, City of Portland, SolarWorld and others to reschedule and modify this event because we still want to celebrate our achievement of installing 450+kw of residential solar in southwest Portland.

We’re still singing in the rain!

In the meantime, like our buddies Lewis & Clark, we are hardy pioneers and will move forward on our expedition to charting a new course for energy policy and for solar energy generation in America.  The rains will not dampen our enthusiasm.  Hey, everyone knows you can’t keep a real Trailblazer down for long.

Hi – Ho!!