Green Spotlight: Tatiana Guerra

“You look busy, how can I help?”

Let’s just say Tatiana Guerra is a super volunteer. And we mean really super.

Tatiana is on the right!

We met Tatiana in the spring of 2017 when her AmeriCorps NCCC team was based at The Environmental Center. Her team, Blue 3, primarily worked on our Energy Challenge program.

“We went around to houses and installed LED light bulbs, water efficient shower heads, and sink aerators in people’s homes,” she said. “Part of our team also stayed in the office to set up the schedule, answer phone calls, and take appointments.”

Blue 3 also helped in other departments – working in the garden each week and helping with outdoor school days, the Earth Day Fair, and a Repair Cafe.

When we received a phone call from Tati about 1.5 years later, we were thrilled to hear that she was moving to Bend! She told us that her time at The Environmental Center gave her a glimpse into life in Central Oregon, and she thought it would be a great place to live, play, and work. Once she decided to make Bend home, it’s no surprise she made her way back to The Environmental Center as a reliable volunteer, dedicated to helping our team in so many ways.

It’s common for Tatiana to reach out and simply ask, “What’s going on? Can I help with anything?” (How amazing is that?) We’re so grateful for her enthusiasm and positive attitude! She is currently supporting the same Energy Challenge program, prepping marketing materials and sending out letters, and assisting with the 2018 Green Tour. She’s also gotten involved in our Rethink Waste Program, preparing Eat First baskets that help people reduce wasted food. We’ve called on Tati to help with last-minute event support, data entry tasks, and more – and she’s been there! All of these actions make a big difference for our organization, and help us to achieve our mission.

Since moving back to Bend, Tati has continued on a service-based career path. She’s working with Commute Options, primarily with the Safe Routes to School program, educating students on bicycle and pedestrian safety. She also works for Bend Park and Recreation District in the Therapeutic Recreation Department. Here, she takes folks hiking, ice skating, cooking, fencing, and more.

If you can’t tell, we appreciate Tatiana’s dependability, upbeat energy, and all the time she’s given to our team. She’s a great advocate for us out in the community, and it’s evident that she is committed to making Central Oregon a better place. Thank you for all you do, Tatiana!

And just for fun, here is a little more about Tati in her own words.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

When I’m not working you can find me on my bike, skiing in the winter, hiking and canoeing in the summer, enjoying coffee at a local shop, and of course, volunteering at TEC. 🙂

Where would you most like to visit in the world? 

I would LOVE to visit more of Asia…maybe Nepal or Cambodia. I visited India and China this past year and fell in love.

How do you practice sustainability in daily life? 

My favorite (and easy to remember!) sustainable practice is turning the heat off when not home, and turning all the lights off. Many folks forget that money and energy can be saved by simply flipping a switch.

Green Spotlight: Bend Montessori School

On any given day of the week, around lunch time at The Environmental Center, it’s common to hear the laughs of preschoolers drifting upstairs to our office from the Kansas Ave. Learning Garden below. If you look out the window, you’ll see an excited group of Bend Montessori students in reflective vests (as they just safely walked across the street) who are now enjoying outdoor play time – digging in the garden beds, raking around gravel, and climbing on trees and picnic tables.

Bend Montessori School has been our neighbor since they opened their current location in 2013. Owner Jessica Born, Miss Jessica, has created a special place for 3-6 year olds and their families. Bend Montessori School’s mission is to cultivate the human potential in an authentic Montessori program. At school, students demonstrate a respect and love for themselves, others, and the world.

The school is in close proximity to The Environmental Center’s Kansas Avenue Learning Garden, Troy Field, and Mary Jane Park. Outdoor play occurs each day, and the children get to choose where they’d like to go. Being able to offer an outdoor play experience so close to the school is a huge part of the unique Bend Montessori approach. Born explained that unstructured play time allows the kids to discover a lot in the moment, and have a sensory experience that changes with each season. This has been a compelling draw for many of the Bend Montessori families. And even though these outdoor spaces may not have playground equipment, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in any weather!

Bend Montessori School manages three beds in our Learning Garden. One is full of strawberries that return each year; and one is used for practicing how to use garden tools and watering cans – the “digging bed,” as they call it. The students are also sprouting seeds using wet cotton balls back in the classroom. As soon as they sprout, the kids will transplant beans, sunflowers and corn to their third garden bed.

Miss Jessica’s favorite time of year is when children are able to experience the height of growing season, when food is being produced right before their eyes.

“When a child can pluck something from the vine or stem and taste it right then and there, it creates an instant connection to their food,” she said.

We’ve witnessed firsthand the kids’ excitement over chives, tomatoes, hot peppers and berries. Recently, chives have been the biggest hit! Miss Jessica said even the most selective eaters are willing to try new foods in the garden.

Students are also introduced to garden insects – butterflies, lady bugs and bees. Back in the classroom, students care for “Lady Bug Land” and raise caterpillars in a lesson about the process of transformation. In fact, the class will release newly emerged painted lady butterflies in our Learning Garden this week. The students also learn about the importance of bees and other pollinators. Throughout the season, they observe and become comfortable with our beehive in the Learning Garden. Eventually, they will differentiate bees from wasps and hornets, and begin to understand bees’ function in nature.

Miss Jessica is also committed to exposing families to alternate modes of transportation. She strongly encourages families to walk or ride bikes to school – and many do! In addition, she enjoys educating our community about riding the bus. Bend Montessori takes two field trips per year, and they take the bus roundtrip to their destinations. This provides the kids with a sensory learning experience, and it also encourages the parents to look more seriously at public transportation, since their kids are participating in the outings.

The first field trip is to Base Camp Studio, where students craft a group costume for our annual Earth Day Parade. Earth Month is a big theme in the Bend Montessori classroom, largely due to their relationship with The Environmental Center. In 2017 the class dressed up as buzzing bees in a swam; and this year, they were slithering snakes.

The second field trip is to Knott Landfill, a very visual experience for this age group. The excursion really drives home what kids practice in the classroom – sorting recyclables using labeled bins, and composting fruit and veggies. While at the landfill, students AND parents learn where our garbage ends up when it goes ‘away’.

“Through both of these field trips each year, we’re supporting our families through education, as well,” said Born.

Miss Jessica and the staff of Bend Montessori will wrap up the school year with a picnic in June. Learn more about the school here – check out upcoming events, sign up for an introduction workshop, and read more about the unique Bend Montessori community!

Green Spotlight: HeartSprings Landscape Design

HeartSprings Landscape Design has been celebrating our unique high desert terrain since 1991, offering landscape services ranging from concept design through construction and beyond. The common thread between each project is an emphasis on sustainable, native landscapes and natural designs that work in harmony with our surroundings. In doing so, they create beautiful,functional outdoor spaces that emphasize the beauty of Central Oregon! These landscapes are thoughtfully created to be very low maintenance which leaves more time to play and enjoy what you love.

At the core of HeartSprings is owner and founder Chris Hart-Henderson, a licensed landscape contractor and long-time Bendite who studied landscape architecture at Oregon State University. Chris is very involved in our community, as a storm water consultant, a steward of our river, and a mentor/teacher. She has taught for COCC, OSU Master Gardeners, City of Bend, High Desert Green Industry, and more.

While talking to Chris, it was immediately apparent that she’s completely in love with Central Oregon and all of its beauty. Her career in landscape design allows her to spend time outdoors – but it also has taught her a lot about living lightly on the planet, and what it takes to be a good steward of the land. Chris knows that how we care for our land matters, because everything is connected. Our watershed, the land, animals, and humans all play a part that contributes to a healthy landscape and community.

According to Chris, practicing business with sustainability in mind is a natural response to living in Central Oregon for so long. Over time, she’s seen how population growth has had an impact on our region. She believes everyone needs to be more conscious of ways to reduce our footprint, especially in a rapidly growing community. So she keeps this in mind while running her business!

HeartSprings’ focus is on restoration, sustainability, and creating native, natural landscapes. “I love outdoor living, and want to make it easy and appealing for people,” said Chris.

HeartSprings works mostly on residential projects, and is currently completing work over in the Tree Farm and Brasada neighborhoods. Chris also jumps on board for many remodels projects, and especially enjoys rural projects just outside of Bend. She really enjoys working with newcomers to the area, because it provides an opportunity to educate them on how to care for our local landscape.

Chris also enjoys being involved in a project as early as possible. This allows for the best synergy and collaboration between herself, the homeowner and other key partners who help execute the vision. She plays the lead role and oversees projects to make sure the vision comes to life. This also allows her to advise on important issues like how to water effectively and conserve where possible; bring pollinators to the garden year-round; and incorporate native and/or edible plants.

HeartSprings’ style and approach to native landscaping has gleaned them several awards. The company was involved of Phase I of the local Desert Rain home – the first single family project in the world to be awarded full certification under the strict international guidelines of the Living Building Challenge.

“I learned a lot from working on Desert Rain, and felt even more inspired to source materials locally and find ways to reduce waste,” said Chris.

They were also recently awarded first place in the 2017 “Rethinking the Future” Sustainability Awards in the category of Residences (built).

RTF is an international association dedicated to sustainable architecture. For this home, HeartSprings helped to design extensive exterior terraces for outdoor living, plus a large fully fenced edible garden and orchard.

So what’s on the horizon for Chris and HeartSprings Landscape Design? Going forward, Chris is striving to go completely paperless – not an easy task, but an important one! She also plans to continue her collaborative relationships with clients and other partners in town, sharing resources, exchanging knowledge, and creating a stronger sense of community.

We encourage you to check out their website to learn even more about this green business, see project photos, and more! You can also reach out to Chris at (541) 280-3036, or info@heartspringsdesign.com. 

Green Spotlight: Stemach Design + Architecture

Maybe you haven’t heard of Stemach Design + Architecture, but chances are you’re familiar with The Restore, Immersion Brewing, Spoken Moto, The Bite in Tumalo, La Pine Community Health Center, and 10 Barrel Brewing’s Galveston Pub. Well, these are just a few of the projects that Stemach Design has worked on around Central Oregon. A few weeks ago, we sat down with Rachel and Stacey Stemach, Owners and Architects, to learn more about their firm’s dedication to sustainability.

Stemach Design, founded in 2013, is conveniently located in the Box Factory – which is also one of their current projects, as the area gets renovated to accommodate new tenants and a pedestrian promenade. Their office space is beautifully designed, as you would imagine. But it’s also super efficient, with a ductless heat pump and operable skylights and windows to heat and cool the office. Most days, bikes can be found in the front entryway, as employees are encouraged to bike to work and participate in Commute Options programs. On days when Stacey and Rachel don’t bike, they drive their all-electric vehicle to the office.

It’s immediately clear that they both care deeply for Central Oregon and wish to contribute to a sustainable, vibrant community. Sustainability efforts are intrinsic to who they are. It’s seen in their personal lives, how they operate their business, and in the designs they provide for clients. They lead by example, and it’s helped them carve out a unique niche here in town. (For those of you who attended Green Drinks at Stemach Design in July 2017, you got to see first-hand the passion and energy that’s stirring within this firm!)

Rachel grew up in Bend, so she’s witnessed the consistent growth and development in our region. This inspired her to become an active Historic Landmark Commissioner, who helps property owners preserve historically and architecturally significant buildings and districts.

Stacey plays a role in city planning at the micro and macro levels. He’s helped advise on the future of Bend’s sewer system and on the recent urban growth boundary expansion. He’s also currently involved in the new Bend Central District Initiative, which is building momentum for a mixed-use neighborhood with safe connections between east and west Bend.

Ultimately, they both want to see a more walkable and bikeable community, and for homes and businesses to be built in a way that encourages solar and smart growth for Bend. And they’re actively engaging in our community to help make this happen.

Stemach Design works mostly on commercial projects. They do a few residential projects – mostly home additions and remodels. When they’re involved in new construction, they first and foremost consider how the building is connected to the site. They try to leverage solar orientation, build a tight envelope, and design energy-efficient systems throughout the project. Stacey talked about the importance of ‘making little tweaks’ wherever possible, so that the end product is more efficient and healthy than the client may have even planned for. In addition, Stemach Design is knowledgeable about all the available incentives through Energy Trust of Oregon, and helps coordinate these rebates on behalf of their clients.

We asked both Stacey and Rachel about what drives them to be green.

“I want to leave our community better for the future,” said Rachel.

“I want to tread lightly and have a smaller footprint,” said Stacey. “Which means I have to apply my values to everything we do here at the firm. We have to walk the talk.”

So, what’s on the horizon? They’re busy to say the least, working on the expansion of Crux Fermentation Project, On Tap (a new food truck lot in NE Bend), a historic rehabilitation of the Tetherow Homestead in Redmond, and remodeling Ruffwear into a new co-working space for the outdoor industry.  Visit Stemach Design’s website (and follow them on social media) to learn more and see some of their beautiful work!

Green Spotlight: Cascade Financial Strategies

Last week, we met with Jack Schniepp and Neal Richards at Cascade Financial Strategies. This duo is located in an office near the Old Mill, and extends financial planning and investment management services to all of Central Oregon. CFS occupies a unique niche in our community – one that not only sets them apart from other financial planners, but also lands them in our Green Spot Directory!

If you’re unfamiliar with Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), here’s a quick breakdown. SRI is an investment strategy that analyzes investments on their social merits in addition to their return and economic merits. CFS is the only firm in Central Oregon that is a member of the US/SIF, The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. This means they’re able to help clients choose investments that align with their values – whether that’s around company ethics, environmental issues, human rights, or more. During our discussion, Jack emphasized that this type of strategy can generate long-term financial returns AND positive societal impact. In today’s world, you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other; it can be a true win-win.

Over the course of his career, Jack said that he’s seen an increased interest in SRI throughout our community, which is reflective of what’s happening on a national and even international scale. To share what they’ve learned, Jack and Neal maintain a really great resource in the form of a blog at SRIbend.com, which shares educational information on this investment strategy.

The story of Jack’s approach to investment management is a really great one. His children, teenagers at the time, really enjoyed chocolate bars. Eventually the topic of fair trade and non-fair trade practices was brought up, specifically around chocolate brands and where the cocoa came from. Jack found himself under scrutiny from his kids in regards to which companies he engaged with on behalf of his clients. So he began researching SRI to see if this made sense for his clients – and for the world, too. This sparked a new interest and passion, and it didn’t take long for Jack to become an expert on what is now called ‘impact investing.’ In 2013, Jack left Wells Fargo to work independently and start CFS.

I had a lot of fun chatting with Jack and Neal, and it was apparent they both value a sustainable lifestyle and a healthy community. I was excited to learn that Jack commutes to work via bicycle, and Neal gets around (and transports his kids) via a pretty impressive electric scooter. Check this thing out!

If you’re interested in learning more about this local Green Spot, and about SRI, Jack will be holding a seminar here at The Environmental Center on Thursday, November 16th @ 4pm. (RSVP here) During the workshop, Jack will walk attendees through an impact assessment. This tool can tell you how well your current portfolio matches your own personal values, and which companies or investments you own that don’t line up with SRI guidelines. If you’d like to check this out for yourself in advance, you can also sign up for an impact assessment on the CFS website.

Stay tuned for more Green Spot blogs, where we’ll highlight sustainable, local businesses in our community.

Green Spotlight: Windflower Farm

This month, TEC made a visit out to Windflower Farm, a beautiful 20-acre farm located just 15 miles east of Bend. Windflower Farm is dedicated to growing gourmet-quality vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. It’s also home to Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) livestock, including laying hens, dairy goats and heritage pigs.

The farm has been a Green Spot for many years. In fact, they use The Environmental Center as their central drop-off location for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares! We already knew that the farm, owned and managed by Gigi Meyer, practices sustainable farming methods: no chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. But we wanted to take a tour of the property and learn a little more about Gigi, Windflower Farm, and what they offer the Central Oregon community.

Gigi has loved and felt connected to nature all of her life. When she started the farm in 2005, she really wanted to foster biodiversity on her land. This is evident in several ways. For example, the animals provide compost for growing healthy fruits and vegetables, and she uses goats to help control weeds. In 2009, Gigi acquired even more land next door – her father’s property – what she now calls the “North Farm.” She has been working more than 10 years to continually improve her soil, select the right seeds, and plant at just the right time. All of this careful calculation means she doesn’t need to use any amount of toxic chemicals. Plus she’s found that crop rotation and cover cropping help ensure a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.

Gigi and I walked the entire farm, which was the highlight of my week! She pointed out all sorts of delicious food including grapes and ‘dragon tongue’ beans; showed me beautiful floral arrangements on the way to Jackson’s Corner and Newport Market; and introduced me to her goats, chickens, horses and pigs. Along the way she would stop to water down compost piles, chat with her interns about that day’s harvest, and feed the pigs, who were digging up turnips and playing in the mud. I learned about companion planting, where plants are strategically placed together to help one another thrive (like marigolds and tomatoes). And we also saw several pollinators like giant bumblebees, enjoying all the colorful flowers interspersed throughout the land. It was really evident that everything on the farm was a piece of a larger system that worked together in harmony!

One of my first thoughts was that managing 20 acres is no easy task. I learned that Gigi works with Rogue Farm Corps to employ a few interns each growing season. In order to make sure this is a successful partnership, Gigi provides them with housing on the farm – a large house next to her own home, where each intern is in close proximity to work and other personal projects. (For example, one intern is currently raising ducks on the land!) Gigi also teaches an animal husbandry class for Rogue Farm Corps. I was really impressed with her dedication to passing on her knowledge to others.

“I want to be involved with and encourage the next generation of sustainable farming,” she said.

Gigi acknowledged that farming in the high desert has its challenges. However, she has invested a lot of time to find the best watering solutions for her needs while conserving as much as possible. She uses a combination of drip and overhead sprinklers, which either run super early at 4am or during overnight hours. Gigi is also dedicated to producing as little food waste as possible, and manages inventory so that they almost always sell out of product to regular clients and CSA. Some of her regular clients include Pronghorn Resort, Brasada Ranch, Central Oregon Locavore and Agricultural Connections. 

What Gigi has created is a great regional model for small-scale, biodiverse, farm-to-table agriculture. Windflower Farm gives locals the opportunity to participate in community supported agriculture, which helps to maintain socially responsible, environmentally friendly acreage right here in our own backyard. Plus, the farm contributes to the health of our community and provides meaningful employment for several of our fellow community members.

If you’re interested in supporting Windflower Farms while enjoying many organic foods, you can sign up for a full season or on-demand tote bag with fruits, veggies and herbs. Or, check out their raw milk herd share, egg CSA, and flower CSA. You can read more and sign up for these offerings at the Windflower Farm website. I also highly recommend that you keep Windflower Farm in mind for your upcoming special event or wedding! The floral arrangements I saw were AMAZING, and the flower bouquets dropped off here at The Environmental Center are extremely beautiful. 

Thanks to Gigi for showing me around the farm! Here are a few photos from the tour that day.

Green Spotlight: The Giggling Gardener

What does everyone love about Bend? The beautiful landscape and abundance of nature, of course! The outdoor playground of Central Oregon is known for its mountain vistas, expansive forests, and crystal clear lakes. Bringing wilderness into city limits is at the core of a local landscaping business owned by Jenny MacAulay – otherwise known as The Giggling Gardener. Her gardening and landscaping business is known for putting the environment first.

Jenny’s been gardening since she was little, working on her mother’s garden with five siblings, but didn’t fully realize her love for nature until she finished guiding in Baja California and Alaska. Wanting to continue working outdoors and helping the environment, she started her business in Bend in 2000 and partnered with John Luciano, who has been designing and building landscapes in Bend since 1995.

“No shortcuts!” she said to me when we discussed the values of her work.

They make sure to keep gardens clean by using vinegar and compost as opposed to pesticides and fertilizer. Keeping the big picture in mind, her gardens are composed of native plants, which keeps the soil happy and conserves water.

Jenny had some interesting information for me in regards to the landscaping business: “Green isn’t always green.”

Confused? She explained that sometimes landscapers and gardeners will use damaging chemicals to keep plants and grass green, and fossil-fuel powered machinery like mowers and blowers to make a garden neat and tidy. It’s no secret that maintaining a lush lawn here in Central Oregon is difficult and can use a lot of resources. So Jenny suggests a shift in perspective on how we manage these green spaces.

For example, we can accept that some weeds here and there is OK, as they are a sign of what’s happening in the soil and this provides helpful information. When you do need to get rid of some unwanted weeds, consider hand picking. In addition, we can consider improving soil with compost and grass-cycling – a practice where you leave mulched clippings on the lawn while mowing, thereby reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizer by 60%! Lastly, there’s usually an opportunity to reduce the size of a lawn, and perhaps building a native garden space instead. These types of landscapes help conserve water, and if designed correctly, can also help attract pollinators, too!  

You can see plenty of the Giggling Gardener’s work around town, and Jenny’s business is a quality example of incorporating green practices into an everyday businesses. From using environmentally-conscious materials to limiting driving, her business sets an example we can all learn from!

Green Spotlight: Humm Kombucha

From the early days as “Kombucha Mama” to ”Humm Kombucha” today, being sustainable and working to benefit the community has been an important part of operations at Humm. Among the many sustainability measures Humm has in place to maintain their status as a Green Spot Member, there are a couple things we’d like to highlight because they really speak to our mission to embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon.

May is Bike to Work and School month, and Humm encourages employees to participate by having weekly raffles for those who bike commute during the month. As part of their rapid growth – they went national this year, built a new facility, and expanded their staff – keeping a health oriented family feel has been a key component.  Humm wants their staff to choose healthy commute options when possible and to acknowledge when team members make choices that are better for the community and themselves.

Another great example of Humm’s commitment to sustainability is their investment in the growler culture. Every time you choose to fill a growler of kombucha, 4.5 bottles are diverted from the waste stream. From the beginning, Humm invested heavily in kegs with the intent of driving consumers to growler fill stations.

When we, here at The Environmental Center, say we “embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon” we are talking about inspiring people to make choices that reduce waste and pollution. Green Spot businesses are important because their practices can have impacts that reach large numbers of people. Whether it’s empowering employees to ride bikes to work or driving customers to the tap instead of the bottle, businesses have tremendous power to change individual behavior. Thanks to Humm Kombucha for being responsible with their influence.

Green Spotlight: Elemental Energy

Solar energy is the fastest growing power source in the world, with enough energy hitting the earth’s surface hourly to power mankind for a year. It provides clean power with no harm to the environment, and is so reliable that the first solar cell made in 1954 is still producing power to this day.

Locally owned and operated solar installation leader, Elemental Energy, provides this valuable power with a greater mission to critically address the way that society uses and thinks about energy. After graduating from Oregon Institute for Technology’s Renewable Energy Engineering program in 2010, founders John Grieser and Brandon Little traveled to Tanzania to install solar energy systems on schools, orphanages, and community centers. Inspired by this unique experience, the duo committed themselves to solar, spurring the birth of Elemental Energy and their dedication to providing creative energy solutions across Oregon and around the world. Today, Elemental Energy is expanding to meet the growing number of Oregonians, realizing the value of owning their own clean energy source.

It is this background that enables them to provide the highest quality systems and workmanship on every system with a strong eye toward aesthetics and creative solutions. We admire their knowledge and expertise, and especially like one of their core values, ‘kaizen.’  This value describes how the team practices continuous improvement, for themselves, the business, and the industry at large.

Not only does this company provide renewable energy sources to homes and businesses throughout Oregon, the same leadership also operates a sister nonprofit called Twende Solar (Twende means “let’s go” in Swahili). Twende is focused on bridging the gap between energy poor communities and renewable energy experts. By unifying the PV industry behind its global electrification efforts, Twende volunteers design and install renewable energy systems for schools, medical clinics, and community centers with limited or no access to electricity. It is easy to forget that throughout the world, one in five people are in the dark after the sun goes down. Without energy equality, we can never have a truly equal society. With this in mind, Twende Solar installs solar PV systems everywhere from Guatemala to Cambodia and is installing their first U.S. project this fall for the Portland Rescue Mission’s women’s shelter.

In January, Elemental Energy (founded in Portland) opened an office here in Bend, expanding opportunities for Central Oregonians to take advantage of the abundant sunshine we get year round. One of the things that makes Elemental Energy unique is the breadth of solar solutions they can provide from grid-tied to off-grid energy storage, residential to commercial and mobile.

When Four Peaks Music Festival asked if they could provide off-grid power, the Elemental team designed and built a mega solar trailer to both educate the masses about off-grid systems and power any large event with clean, silent energy from the sun!  With 6kW worth of beautiful bifacial modules and a 15 kWh lithium battery bank, the trailer provides over 40 kWh of usable power on a summer day. The addition of a large generator that can run on diesel, bio-diesel, or filtered vegetable oil means it can provide clean power day and night, rain or sunshine! The Solar Trailer is now housed at the DIY Cave and available for rent.

Laurel Hamilton, the Central Oregon Elemental Energy Operations Manager, spoke of the great energy (pun intended) here in Bend and how they’re looking forward to helping connect more people in this great community to clean solar power. So, if you’re looking to power your home, business, or car with the sun, contact Elemental Energy to make the transition in style.

VIDEO: Twende Solar: 26kW Solar PV Installation in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Green Spotlight: Baby Cakes Diaper Service

Saving the world one diaper at a time! That’s what you see when you first visit Baby Cakes Diaper Service’s website, and the company holds true to form. Run by Sara Holman, the mother of a young son, this company helps you reap the many, many benefits of cloth diapers without the mess! Baby Cakes delivers clean, reusable diapers and picks up dirty ones from your home. They’ll also provide accessories such as diaper pail liners, diaper covers, and wet bags, as well as an organic diaper option. There are even swim diapers, just in time for summer!

What makes Baby Cakes green? Well, cloth diapers are stinky environmental superheroes. Conventional diapers use precious natural resources to produce. After they’re used, they create more than 3.5 million tons of landfill debris annually in the U.S. Cloth diapers can be reused, so they cut down on waste. Organic cloth diapers result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce deforestation and water use. And while there’s little research that proves chemicals from conventional diapers are harmful to kids, cloth diapers help prevent diaper rashes because they’re changed more often, keeping your baby’s bum dryer and cleaner.

Not only are they good for the environment and your baby, they save money, too! Between infancy and toilet training, one uses approximately 7,000 disposable diapers, costing more than $1,500. With cloth diapers, you can reduce that cost by around $1,000, or you can use a diaper service and maintain the same cost. (Not to mention… look how cute the patterns are!)

Holman feels a strong drive to help the world around her, and knows this is a good way to make a difference. In addition to running Baby Cakes, she also works for GreenSavers USA, a local home performance contractor specializing in energy efficiency. Lately, she has been contacting local pregnancy centers to see if there is an opportunity for a partnership to offer cloth diapers at a discounted price. While she washes the diapers at a facility in Prineville using chlorine-free bleach, the business is run out of her home. She heats and cools her house with an efficient ductless heat pump and uses LED lighting, making the business even greener.

If you’re a new parent, try out Baby Cakes. Your baby will thank you for the fresh diapers now, and for a healthy, clean world in the future.

Check out this video of how the cloth diaper is used!