Monday, 05 June 2023

SolFest: Exploring a sustainable future

Pultizer-Prize winning author Alice Walker, who lives in Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, takes questions from the audience. Photo by Terre Logsdon.


HOPLAND – At an event that could only happen in Northern California – but should happen everywhere – farmers, hippies, city dwellers and country folk alike all got their groove on to learn about sustainable ways of living and doing business this past weekend.

The event in question was Hopland's 12th annual SolfFest.

After morning yoga on Sunday, the Alternative Fuels Smackdown took center stage with advocates for ethanol, biodiesel and electric defending and explaining the benefits and differences between these alternative fuels.

After all was said and done – it was declared a tie.

David Blume, author of “Alcohol Can Be A Gas,” engaged the audience many times as he explained how alcohol could be made from almost any crop – including cattails and kelp grown on nets in the ocean – and wouldn’t take away from crops for human or animal consumption.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, who penned “The Color Purple,” inspired the audience on Sunday, reassuring everyone that we have the faithfulness of sun rising everyday – and that events like SolFest keep people informed and energized.

“The goal of life is not to stuff a trunk full of money,” Walker told the audience, but to be happy whenever we can.

“It is our birthright to be joyful,” Walker told a cheering audience.

Reading from her newest book for children, “Why war is never a good idea,” Walker explained that during this time of war, everyone should have a spiritual practice.

“This is a time that you really have to have a practice,” Walker said. “A practice that can sustain you through this time.”

On a more technological footing, Ernesto Montenero of Sustainable Technologies from Alameda spoke about converting methane gas from manure to usable energy.

According to Montenero, there are 110 methane “digesters” in California that utilize cow manure to produce methane gas which is then used to generate electricity – or is used to fuel cooking stoves on a smaller scale – and the United States Department of Agriculture has applications for 85 more.

But methane digesters, alternative fuels and solar energy are just a few topics that SolFest, which is hosted at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland, just over the hill from us in Lake County, have available every day.

If you didn’t make it to SolFest this year, don’t worry – just stop by the Solar Living Institute and the Real Goods store the next time you’re passing through Hopland. You will probably learn a thing or two which will inspire you.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Ernesto Montenero of Sustainable Technologies shows workshop participants how a methane digester works. Photo by Terre Logsdon.



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