for Sustainability & Resilience

September 28, 2016

October 29, 2016 – AGM, new Coordinator invited, looking forward

Greetings!  Past Members and any interested folks are warmly invited to the October 29 Annual General Meeting of the non-profit Heartwood Folk School Society.  Special Invitation:  If you become a Member at this AGM ($5 fee), you can receive free entry to the Cedar Basket Making Class that follows.  In any event, Heartwood is at a crossroads, and we are seeking a new Coordinator, so come help decide and create our future together!


AGM DATE:  Saturday, October 29, 2016  (please read info below & RSVP if you can)

TIME:  9:45 am (no more than an hour), before 11:00 am Cedar Basket Making Class


September 20, 2015

Heartwood summer break, Fall AGM & restart

Category: * General Posts,1. Food Growing,2. Energy,9. Community – Heartwood admin 11:16 pm

After a summer break extended by a major challenge (see farewell below), we at Heartwood Folk School are now ready to restart in the fall.  This is to continue our mission of teaching practical, joyful, Earth-caring, and community-strengthening skills – as do other wonderful organizations in our Pender community.  Up next is an October 17 Annual General Meeting, followed by a class on Building Simple Hoop Greenhouses (like the one in the picture below).

Farewell to a Key Heartwood Supporter:  Heartwood Coordinator Zorah Staar is very sad to announce the August 18 passing of her dear partner Colin McLarty, after a heroic battle with cancer.  Colin was the primary, behind-the-scenes supporter of our non-profit educational society, and an inspiration who already knew 90% of the skills that we’ve taught so far. Thanks so much to other community members who have steadfastly supported us for years.  We are also very grateful for your recent donations in Colin’s honour, to the non-profit Heartwood Folk School Society.

Oct 17 Heartwood Annual General Meeting:  We always love to hear your suggestions about exciting new classes that you’d like to attend, coordinate, or teach (email info@heartwoodfolkschool.ca).  The upcoming Heartwood Annual General Meeting (AGM) is an especially good opportunity to help guide our ship. Any interested persons are invited to attend a brief, informal AGM – at 10:30 am on Saturday, October 17 (Community Hall upstairs).  You could check out the Winter Market at the Hall before the AGM, and then stay after the AGM for our 11:00 am Greenhouse class (see below).  Your children/youth are welcome to join us.

Become a Heartwood Director, or Help Coordinate!  Our non-profit Society can have 5 to 8 Directors, and there’s room for 2 more. A lot of Directors’ business is handled by email, and then we meet every few months.  However, Zorah Staar would also love more help with the practical coordinating of Heartwood classes, which involves some compensation from grant monies. Please call Zorah ASAP at 250-629-3825 if being a Director and/or helping to coordinate interests you.


April 18, 2015

May, 2015: D-I-Y Solar Hot Water, Passive Solar, etc.

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 8:50 am

Up next on sustainable energy are May, 2015 classes with a DO-IT-YOURSELF focus.  This includes Do-It-Yourself Solar Hot Water systems, and also Home Passive Solar elements, plus an innovative Home Heat Recovery system.  See here for more, and to pre-register.

Home Passive Solar Elements

Home Passive Solar Elements

February 19, 2015

March, 2015: Practical Solar Photovoltaics class

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 7:45 pm

Now we’ve captured a Gabriola Island solar expert for our next sustainable energy classes, in March, 2015.  The focus will be “Practical Solar Photovoltaics – Sample Installation & Creating your own Small Solar PV Home Back-Up System”.  Please see here for more, and you too can have a solar panel or two up on the roof…

Solar panels, different watts & prices

Solar panels, different watts & prices

January 6, 2015

New Pender Energy Research Report & 2015 Classes

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 1:15 pm

Following up on Heartwood’s November, 2014 energy classes (see here for more), there is now an updated Pender Energy Research Report.  This is an introductory, practical comparison of solar and other renewable energy options for islanders.  Note:  A professional solar thermal install by March 31, 2015 could be eligible for the CRD incentive/rebate.  Start by checking out the above report!

(solar thermal/solar hot water image below, courtesy of www.camosunsolar.ca)camosunsolar.ca solar hot water diagram

September 20, 2014

November, 2014: Solar & Sustainable Energy Classes

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 4:40 pm

Heartwood is happy to announce November, 2014 energy classes on new options for solar and other forms of renewable energy.  See here to learn about “Solar Thermal & Photovoltaic – Intro to New Options & Incentives“, and “Heat Pump, Wind, Water & Geothermal Energy – Intro to Local Options“.

(solar water heating image below, courtesy of Pacific Solar Smart Homes/Camosun Solar)

camosunsolar.ca solar hot water panels cropped

March 1, 2014

We are the Heartwood Folk School!

Here’s good news…  Of all our activities to date, our practical skills-teaching has had the most powerful community impact and interest.  This is why on February 8, 2014, Members unanimously voted for our non-profit society to become the Heartwood Folk School Society!  We invite everyone to our first classes under our new name – a Knitting & Wool Learning Day on March 22, 2014.

You can see our home page for upcoming classes in various subject areas.  You can also have a peek at our new Heartwood symbol, created by Everest Lapp!a Heartwood Folk School logo 1 uneven hearts

November 27, 2012

Rainwater harvesting guide

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy,5. Technical / D-I-Y,6. Building – Heartwood admin 9:44 am

Here’s additional info from John McQuaid of www.waterwindsolar.com, who spoke at the November 17, 2012 Pender Energy Day (see November 19 post).  McQuaid installs both rainwater catchment and renewable energy technologies.  The Regional District of Nanaimo has a useful Rainwater Harvesting Best Practices Guidebook for homeowners, available here: http://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms/wpattachments/wpID2430atID5059.pdf.  Let’s make good use of our winter rains, and also have good water during power failures when the pumps are out!

November 19, 2012

2012 Pender Energy Day stories & links

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 7:05 am

Here are some inspiring stories & links for action, from Pender’s second annual, November 17, 2012 Energy Action Day.  The best one is a story in a picture…

November 15, 2012

This Saturday’s ENERGY DAY

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 4:19 pm

Latest news: Laurie of Recycling’s RE-CYCLE SHOP will kindly be offering some bike tune-ups at this Saturday’s ENERGY ACTION DAY (November 17, 2012, 10 am to 3 pm, School Gym).  Then there’s what you might affectionately call the interested “groups and geeks” energy conversation (all welcome to share or just listen in), from 10:30 to 11:30 am.

The new speaker on solar energy and available home refit grants is J. SCOTT (not J. Smith – see www.illuminatesolar.ca).  We are grateful also to have expert speakers Doug Green (www.advancedhomeenergy.ca) and John McQuaid (www.waterwindsolar.com).

The wonderful Kikuchi’s will be offering food and drink.  There are a variety of displays being gathered for your energy edification, including an electric car display outside the school, and now some info inside about living off-grid on Pender.  Some kids are also working hard on constructing a bike generator (a work in progress), and in the kid area, there will be a series of energy question stations for the young and old to play through.  See our poster and www.pendercommunitytransition.ca for more.  This Saturday is a free, fun, and informative community event.  Come learn and share about creating a brighter energy future, together!


October 10, 2012

coming soon: 2012 Pender Energy Day

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 2:24 pm

Here’s what’s next  – a second annual day for community members to learn about renewable energy and energy conservation!

* new date: Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 am to 3 pm, School Gym): Thje second annual Pender Energy Day is coming up in a few weeks.  This is a free community event for anyone who wants to learn or share energy information, including all ages and levels of experience – especially our kids!  This Energy Action Day will include fun and informative displays, a kid area, expert and inspiring speakers, cool energy videos, and lively networking and cooperative discussions (see poster for more).  It’s all about energy conservation, i.e. many ways to use and need less energy, and energy transition, i.e. shifting to low-carbon, renewable, resilient energy sources where possible.  Come out to hear from off-island and on-island experts, and contact Zorah at 629-3825 or info@pendercommunitytransition.ca if you have some energy knowledge or a display to share.  Let’s teach and inspire each other!  You can also see the energy references for more.


November 20, 2011

2011 Energy Day, nut tree project, and DVD

Category: * General Posts,1. Food Growing,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 1:03 pm

renewable ebergy image

So there was a power failure, setting up a dark gym with headlamps, multiple competing events, and finally an evacuation!  Despite all this, PENDER’S FIRST ENERGY DAY on November 12, 2011 (see poster) was very well-attended and went amazingly well.  About 150 Pender adults and kids came through, and I’m sure the Kikuchi family’s deliciously-sustainable food was part of why a bunch of them stuck around for a while.

There were also expert guest speakers about do-it-yourself energy conservation projects, home energy evaluations, solar water heating, and other energy options for greater sustainability and resilience.

A super part of the Energy Action Day was the kids playing their way through the “energy question stations”, inspiring us with their energy pictures (see above), and watching with big eyes as the grown-up energy “keeners” demonstrated their cool gizmos.  Thanks so much to all the people and groups who helped and participated, and to the Pender LTC’s, Eco-Homes Network, CRD, and Vancity for helping fund this event!  As a follow-up, we’re having a SOLAR WATER HEATING INFO MEETING on November 22 (go to PCT’s Current Events and Energy References, Tips & Skills to see what’s up).


November 17, 2011

Solar Water Heating Meeting

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 5:17 pm
Pender’s first Energy Action Day on November 12 was very well-attended and went amazingly! [see poster and summary for more].  Now as a follow-up, we’ve scheduled a Solar Water Heating Information Meeting for Tuesday, November 22, 2011 (see minutes).
Anyone is welcome to come receive and share info, including the 16 homeowners considering installations by Certified Installer James Smyth (before the March 31, 2012 rebate deadline), and those who are exploring various other options (such as do-it-yourself).  I have not yet received the additional price info from James Smyth, but will forward it when I do (to the group of 16 and others who ask me).  Also, some new Thermomax vacuum tube info has now been added to the Solar Water Heating references at www.pendercommunitytransition.ca/energy-references-tips-and-skills


August 22, 2011

Upcoming PCT Events

Category: * General Posts,2. Energy – Heartwood admin 10:53 am

As Pender Community Transition shifts into fall action, here are some upcoming events!

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2011 (7:00 pm, Hall Lounge) – ENERGY GROUP MEETING: Anyone interested in energy conservation and low-carbon, renewable and perpetual energy sources on Pender is welcome to come out, to follow-up on our first Energy Group Meeting.  We’re going to discuss our upcoming Solar Water Heating  initiative (see attached) and other projects, plus any other energy ideas we have to help Pender homeowners, businesses, and our community.  We’ll also be talking about how to create a useful and exciting Energy Action Day (see below).

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2011 (10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Pender School Gym) – ENERGY ACTION DAY:  This event is being developed in cooperation with other groups and all interested Penderites (including younger ones at the school).  We intend to include fun displays, practical demonstrations, expert speakers, plus lively conversations and networking!  This is all about energy conservation and transition.  Please email info@pendercommunitytransition.ca or call 250-629-3825 if you have any energy knowledge, displays, or skills to share. See also Energy References, Tips & Skills for energy actions you can take right now!

April 1, 2011

Energy & Emissions: say what you think!

Category: 2. Energy – Heartwood admin 10:35 am

Greetings!  This is the category for community posts about Energy & Emissions.  For a start, you could check out the May, 2011 Energy Group Minutes which were the first step to follow up on the PCT Energy Research Report (including alternative energy cost comparisons for homeowner and community projects).  There’s also the Energy References, Tips & Skills relating to this research, and the Energy & Emissions Info/Planning Page which is about our whole community coming together to take useful action.

For more community dialogue, you’re invited to read the most recent technical comments (here) plus some earlier comments on low-carbon/renewable energy sources (see posts below), and to add to it yourself!  You can do this by clicking the “Comments” below this post or any post, reading what might be there, and then scrolling down to add your own comment.  You can also register to write posts for others to comment on, using the registration box in the lower right-hand menu.  Feel free to email PCT with any questions about this, or with additional materials that you think are relevant to low-carbon and renewable energy options for Pender.  Come join the community conversation!

Response to Research Project Questions

Category: 2. Energy – Niall Parker 10:28 am

Email from Niall Parker (in response to PCT Energy Research Questions from Zorah Staar):

Question 1: If a Pender homeowner with average Pender sun and wind had about $5,000 to spend on energy projects, what should they spend it on?  My tentative answer [from Zorah Staar]: ½ on energy conservation (e.g. better insulation), and ½ on a do-it-yourself solar water heating system, like the ones described at sites like this: Build it Solar: Solar Water Heating (Basics/Do-It-Yourself).

Response from Niall: Those are good ideas, if it hasn’t already been done I’d recommend a home energy assessment (~$300) before anything else, as well as power meters and a review of hydro bills. Solar thermal gives good bang for buck but many houses on Pender aren’t very well suited (then again even a simple boost can drop the electricity requirements a lot, electric hot water is probably our biggest power draw). Also an emergency lighting system (LEDs, battery and moderate (80-100W) PV panel) would make a big difference if power cuts are common (not quite the ambience of candles but safer and no fossil fuels)

Question 2: If a Pender homeowner with average Pender sun and wind had about $25,000 to spend on energy projects, what should they spend it on?  My tentative answer: 1/2 on energy conservation (multiple projects, after an assessment); 1/4 or less on a solar hot water heating system; and the remainder ¼ or more on a solar photovoltaic system to power a DC freezer, some lights, and/or a new DC well pump?  Or should they forget photovoltaic-driven pumps or freezers, and instead install rainwater catchment and a gravity-feed cistern (plus learn to can and dry food), and/or buy an electric scooter or some hybrid electric/pedal bicycles with any money left?

Some form of alternative transportation fits here (or above, depends on whether a (e)bike is suitable. How much conservation can be achieved should be evaluated before spending a lot more on it. As above, metering is a useful diagnostic and educational tool, behaviours about shower lengths, using lights, computers,  TV’s etc can have a big impact for some households, while others may find they are already at a pretty low baseline. PV powered fridges are a good idea and help maintain our current lifestyle, though as you point out, greater economies can be found by ditching fridges/freezers completely. Canning by itself can chew up electrical power, likewise for food drying (if electrical driers are used). Metering a batch is educational (our dryer takes ~$1 per load) but timing the process can make use of waste heat.


Burning Age must end

Category: 2. Energy – Julie Johnston 10:28 am

From Julie Johnston: Without having read everything yet [from the Pender energy research project], I’d like to say one thing:  The Burning Age is over.  No more fuel-based energy.  No more burning.  Burning = carbon in almost every case, and we can’t afford to be less bad by emitting less carbon.

As we read through the research that’s been done, let’s keep in mind that we have to get to zero-carbon energy as rapidly as possible.  Let’s not go down any middle roads … let’s go straight to zero carbon right away. (BTW, the Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones.  And so the Burning Age must end long before we’ve run out of fuels to burn.)

Julie Johnston
GreenHeart Education
Pender Island

Response to Energy Research Project

Category: 2. Energy – David Rippner 10:18 am

From David Rippner (in response to 3 PCT questions about Pender energy priorities):

Your ideas about conservation and solar thermal are probably the best way.  Because of a combination of high latitude, low hydro energy prices and the lack of any solar incentives, photovoltaics (“PV”, in the industry) aren’t a wise choice for us here, sexy as it may be.  The best bang for the buck, assuming a structure is adequately insulated and wind-proofed, is solar thermal.  With the BC Solar Initiative, there is a great opportunity to pay for a domestic hot water system in 7 – 10 years, depending upon location and size of system.  Payback period is the most often-used metric lately, for domestic and commercial installations.

[Note: PCT has just learned that the SolarBC residential initiative now appears to have ended.  However, there are other options for Penderites to save money and shorten payback period on solar thermal/water heating systems – see  Solar Thermal Bulk Buying and Do-it-yourself Solar Water Heating Systems for two examples.  On the other hand, as for solar photovoltaic, see more from David Rippner below…]

Off-grid solar [photovoltaic] energy systems are costly solutions that may never actually pay for themselves, but if the grid is too far away, the user is on a boat or mobile home, it may be the ONLY solution.  Consider that the hourly cost of off-grid electrical energy may be in the realm of 30 – 35 cents KWH, and that is after the system is paid for.  Battery storage costs are calculable and necessitate replacements with the most attentive & careful usage.  The longest I’ve seen a domestic deep cycle battery system last is 12 years; first-year users are often obliged to replace their first set of batteries the following year, and more common usage is 3 – 5 years.

I’m speaking with 30 years of off-grid experience and over 25 years selling, assembling and using on-grid solar PV.  Dedicated systems (you mention powering a freezer, for example) aren’t practical unless they power (for example) an on-demand pump with a cistern: when the sun produces energy, water is pumped.  For domestic usage, some sort of storage is necessary – the power grid or batteries.


Energy: Community Building, Food & Water

Category: 2. Energy – Peter Carter 10:12 am

From Peter Carter: Hi Zorah, you have come a long way, this is great.  First doing any project on energy together is great because it builds community.  Having said that my perspective and proposals will not fit with the general view. 

Soon this civilization will collapse. Post peak oil and catastrophic levels of atmospheric GHGs make that certain.   Canada will be better than most regions but certainly affected.  Our dependency on US and Latin American food is dangerous as those regions will be hit badly by climate change.  All communities will become isolated in terms of what we are used to.   Long distance centrally produced power supplies and food supplies will not be reliable. So the first essential is community building- and that means developing physical projects together.  And our local energy must be linked to local food production. 

Also, any region that has a good site for wind must install whatever can be afforded- a local build is best for community building.  As an island our best potential is the sea around us.   We need to look into wave and tidal. Obviously there is lots of power around us there.   Again local development is best. 

There is no survival other than a zero carbon future. The science is definite.  Therefore (fossil fuel) energy conservation and efficiency is good to do, but does not help our future security.


Global Solar Transition Achievable in 20 years

Category: 2. Energy – Julie Johnston 10:02 am

From Julie Johnston: Below is the comment I posted on The Grist today about this press release (“Global Solar Transition Achievable in 20 Years”, link below).  I can’t quite tell, though, if they’ve actually figured out *how much* fossil fuel we’ll have to burn to create the infrastructure to get us to 100% perpetual energy — so that we can figure out if we can afford that much new carbon, climate change-wise. In other words, if people are given the chance to choose between efficiency now or complete and utter civilization collapse, chaos and starvation later (one of these authors says by 2018), maybe — just maybe — they will choose greater efficiency measures now. Maybe.  Here’s the link to the report’s press release:


Here’s a very telling quote from the report [further info below]:

“Optimally, this transition [the Global Transition to Solar Energy] should be combined with an aggressive policy of energy conservation”, said co-author Professor Peter Schwartzman of Knox College. “In the United States, for instance, conservation could reduce oil consumption by more than half by 2025, and for industrial countries overall by up to 35 per cent – while improving the quality of life. But we have to act immediately. If we wait a few decades, we could permanently lose our chance to get this transition off the ground.”


Scottish Carbon Initiative

Category: 2. Energy – Yvonne MacKenzie 9:54 am

Scottish Carbon Initiative (about recycling to further decrease carbon emissions): The new “carbon metric” will prioritise materials with a high carbon impact such as plastics and textiles, which currently have relatively low levels of recycling in Scotland.

It will also highlight the relative merits of different waste management options, and will support the aspiration for greater ‘closed loop’ recycling markets, for example, by giving higher weighting to glass which is recycled back into glass rather than that which is used for aggregates or insulation materials.

A Focus On What’s Important To Recycle

At the same time, local governments will be focusing less on materials that aren’t as important to recycle in terms of carbon saved, like paper.