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Climate Change and Renewable Energy Education through Environmental Stewardship in Local Parks

The idea will introduce interactive activities into existing community parks and gardens, to demonstrate the capabilities of a variety of renewable energies. Community parks are a great way to showcase different types of renewable energies, demonstrate feasibility, and exhibit practical uses for replacing fossil fuel-based technologies.

Photo of Natalie Lake

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Many communities in both the developing and developed worlds see renewable energies as foreign, unattainable, and expensive technologies. This project will make renewable energies approachable while also proving their cost effectiveness. The project will be in a commonly used public area which is the perfect environment to provide renewable energy and climate change education for both kids and adults. Community parks are one of the best places where communities can form a relationship with their surrounding environment and initiate environmental stewardship or, the conscientious use and conservation of the environment’s quality through sustainable practices and preservation, begins. 




People usually go to community parks with their dogs and their children. Children will be given hands on experiences with renewable energies through seesaws which will pump water into a fountain, and stationary bikes which will power lights. The playground area will also house a small museum constructed of eco-bricks (bricks made from plastic bottles stuffed with garbage) to educate children and adults about climate change and renewable energies. Dogs will also be essential to the project as their feces will fuel the doggy-doo biodigester. The methane from the biodigesters will be used to power street lamps in the area and the biol from the biodigester will be used as a natural fertilizer in a community garden (Only on the non-edible plants though!)

In the community garden, solar dehydrators will be available for public use so that the community can have access to unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and nuts. A food forest that grows a variety of fruit and nut trees would be ideal, but this may not be realistic in an urban area. Continuing on the theme of food, barbecue grills will be replaced with parabolic solar ovens. Alternatively, cookstoves running off the methane from the biodigester will be used in areas that do not have strong daily solar peak hours. Finally, lamps around the park will run off small hybrid wind turbines PV solar panel systems.

UPDATE--------------------------12.29.14
The front of the park would house a board which would display total energy saved for the day and show a comparable amount of energy (e.g could have powered 4 homes for a day) and total energy saved (e.g total energy saved to this point could power 6 homes for a year.) Also the different areas would have meters showing their energy outputs.

UPDATE---------------------------------12.30.14
At the front of the park, there will be a small informational building with tips for home owners and schools on how they can easily incorporate similar technologies into their homes and schools. This building would run purely off of renewable energies. This could also be a possible attraction for park sponsors (perhaps SunEdison, Solar City etc. would be interested in sponsoring the park if they could put brochures in this informational house on how homeowners can easily switch to solar with their help etc.) This new update will combine with the previous update and also house the savings display. 

Also the park could host workshops, events, and perhaps even a yearly renewable energy festival. Classes like permaculture, DIY science projects with kids, etc could take place every other satuday.

UPDATE---------------------------------12.31.14
In a sort of Courts for Kids spirit, the community will help with the construction and implementation of the park. 

UPDATE---------------------------------1.10.15
Janice has presented a great idea of reaching out to companies' CSR (corporate social responsibility) units to see if they would be willing to fund such a project. Another one of her ideas is working with groups like Habitat for Humanity who are already working on neighborhood revitalization projects and implementing some of these technologies and ideas in their designs. Also Janice brought up the idea of potentialy running a pilot with a local demonstration garden. 

Thank you for all the excellent comments, ideas, collaboration and support OpenIDEOers! 


UPDATE________________________ 1.25.15

To enhance community engagement, we will have a snack cart where vendors sell dried fruits and nuts made at the park with packagining explaning the process. The packaging will also direct park goers to the solar fruit/nut dehydrators if they would like to learn more. Continunig in the theme of food, we plan to recruit off the grid food vendors to frequent the park and spread more awareness about renewables/climate change. 

http://offthegridsf.com/

Also for anyone interested in the ecobricks idea, please check out the photos in this link :). 

http://www.el-nacional.com/mundo/Construyen-ecomuseo-Peru-botellas-plastico_5_320417965.html

Again thank you for all the great feedback, comments, ideas and questions OpenIDEOers! 
 

What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

This could benefit any community, however the ideal technologies will differ by region. For example, in Chicago you will want to have more of your lamps to be wind powered, but in Arizona, you will want to have more solar powered lamps. If the park is near running water, hydraulic energy will also be incorporated into the plan. The community will be motivated to participate in this so as to feel like they are making an impact on their local environment. Creating a sense of stewardship at the park will be key to this so that community members will feel invested in the park and want to help preserve their environment by decreasing their carbon footprint. This idea addresses all age groups through different technologies. The education level would require literacy as the technologies will be accompanied by small plaques which explain the technologies and address any FAQs.

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

My idea will increase community education surrounding renewable energies and climate change and also will familiarize the community with a variety of renewable energies. It will demonstrate that renewables are approachable, cost-effective, and feasible in all regions. The end goal will be to convince citizens to incorporate these or similar technologies in their homes. At the front of the park there will be an informational center which will help home owners learn how they can easily adopt similar technologies in their own homes. This pilot will also inspire similar parks to pop up around the world and encourage schools to start similar projects.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The solar ovens and dehydrators could be easily implemented in almost any community garden or urban park for testing. The educational plaques would be good to test in community gardens and public areas where solar street lamps have already been implemented to gage what FAQ questions there are and to evaluate the interest level of the community in these technologies.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I would love to hear other ideas and suggestions on how to decrease the carbon footprint of the park. My background tends to be more community organization based and I would love to hear from users with business-centric background about their ideas for how to creatively introduce a revenue stream into the project and how to efficiently scale this to several communities.

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:

  • A combination of various types of renewable energy

This idea emerged from:

  • An Individual

102 comments

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Photo of Rosana Francescato
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So sorry, I seem to have joined the party late. I love this idea and hope it can be implemented! Haven't had a chance to read all the comments but did want to mention something. I see things about lamps and solar stoves, wondering if there could be some solar chargers that people could use to charge their phones? Solar stoves are nice but people won't use them at home, whereas a charger is an everyday thing everyone uses. Just my two cents.

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Photo of Jon
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Very Good approach

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Photo of Anesa Kratovac
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I really like this idea, Natalie! It is very practical and parks would be able to achieve both self-sustainability with the reduction of fossil fuel usage as well as provide education for the park-dwellers.

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Photo of Jon
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Thank you Anesa

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Thank you Jon and thank you Anesa! I appreciate the support

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Photo of Londa Overbeck
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I LOVE this concept, Natalie! It's targeting a critical pain point of not knowing what solutions can be feasibly adopted. It's educational, experiential, and brings communities together. One question I wonder about is how does this concept support people in reaching the identified end goal of incorporating these technologies into their home life? And how will you know if this is happening? A quick and dirty idea could be to have a commitment wall at the park where people write and post what new behavior they plan to try out in the next 72 hours. Then, perhaps you could build in a way for them to report back how they follow-through.

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Londa,

That is a great idea! A sort of "check for ripple effect" thing. We could also perhaps find a way to put people in contact with ways that they can easily improve their homes in some sort of informational booth towards the entrance of the the park? I'm going to brainstorm on this a bit to figure out how we could check for changed behaviors. Thank you for the feedback, it was great!

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Photo of Eric Byington
Team

Natalie -

Love this idea! I live in Denver and can imagine some of the parks and open spaces having some of these installations and being very popular. Behavior change is foundational, in my opinion, to renewable energy efforts truly taking root in today's society, and I can see how an eco-park of this nature could have a catalytic role in developing behavior change.

I have been asked by OpenIDEO to act as a mentor in this process and I would love to work with you on this idea if you are open to it. There are several networks here in Colorado that I can imagine being willing to adopt something of this nature and I would love to continue brainstorming with you around this.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Eric

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Photo of Jon
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Dear Natalie,

Well said by Eric , if we all post this idea to our local city councils who run city parks it will fetch fair bit of interest as all councils are looking for innovative ideas to turn greener.

Jon

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Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

HI Eric,

That would be wonderful. I will add you to the team right away! Please let me know what you need from my end. I think Colorado would serve as a great place to pilot this idea so I greatly appreciate any and all connections you bring to the team. Funny story, a lot of my exposure about the importance of experiential education and environmental stewardship comes from when I worked for a wolf sanctuary in Westcliffe Colorado.

The wolf sanctuary is also a bit of an inspiration for my idea seeing as it is 100% off the grid and constantly trying to be as self sustainable as possible (growing their own food, using a vegetable oil truck, etc.) You're so right about behavior change and I think experiential education and environmental stewardship in Colorado, such a beautiful area, will bring about these changes in the fastest and most sustainable way.

Again, thank you very much for your collaboration and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Jon,

I think that is a great idea! Would you be willing to do this in your town?

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Photo of Eric Byington
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Hi Natalie -

Apologies for my long delay in communication. Would love to reconnect with you and have an idea for something out here in the Boulder area, but might be a bit much to discuss in this forum. Do you mind shooting me an email offline here - ebyington@gmail.com - and we can set up a time to chat about some more ideas.

Thanks.
Eric

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Eric,

No worries! Sent you an email :)

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Photo of Janice Campbell
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Sorry the idea did not make it Natalie. I thought there was such good information and idea exchange here. As you say, some of these ideas can spur others and be incorporated into ideas moving forward. Has been fun to ideate with you!

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Janice,

Exactly and I'm hoping that Ron might possibly be able to take the idea forward using his connections with local universities and the NGOs he works with. or possibly Eric in Colorado? I feel like good things will still come of this idea :)

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Photo of Kavya Satyakumar
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Hi Natalie,

I love the idea of creating a community space to educate people about renewable and sustainable energy! We definitely need more collaborative spaces like this to educate people on sustainable living.
I can see this model working in closed housing communities/community centres across the world.

Just a thought - What if you have interactive games/installations that reinforce ideas and behaviour around using and creating renewable energy by creating collaborative 'Play spaces' in your eco-park... Its a great way for families and communities to adopt positive behaviour towards sustainable living.
eg:
1. you could have a floor game with piezoelectric generators installed and a sound/light feedback to show how much energy is created.
Alternatively - (like your see-saw powered fountain) the energy generated could power lights/sound that feed back into the game making it self sustainable.
http://www.playgroundmarkingsdirect.co.uk/playground-markings/games/
http://www.sustainabledanceclub.com/products/sustainable_dance_floor/
2. You could have a segregated paper toss bin game where the amount of trash thrown in the bin gives you a quantitative feedback - like 5 kilos of newspaper = 25 trees (random numbers not based on research, using it as an example)
I don't really know how financially sustainable it is, but just an idea :)
Would be happy to talk further and bounce around ideas if you're interested...

Good luck on your project! Very excited :D

Cheers,
Kavya

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Kavya,

Love the interactive play space idea! I also love the idea of combining recycling and energy topics. Thank you for the ideas. Unfortunately, our idea did not make it onto the refinement shortlist but we are going to see if we can still pilot the park with help from OpenIDEOers. Thank you for the support and awesome ideas!

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Photo of Ronald Tabbitas
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Natalie - Absolutely great idea and I can see now why you were attracted to our project as it focuses on economizing renewable energy technologies so that we can place these technologies within the reach of the masses. With our student focus, there is no question in my mind that we could have the resources and the motivation to bring your idea to fruition. Key here is collaboration with academia and establishment of a champion from the academic, political and NGO establishments - Possibly one of our partner NGO's may be interested. I also see many of our technologies as center piece to your program. A more detailed graphic representation of your idea would help in the business development as well as a financial plan. Also, as revenue generator, you may want to consider a rental program where space in the park is rented out with the price based on the market benefit of the program to renewable energy innovators who are interested in promoting and demonstrating their technologies. Another idea would be to bring a big name on board to sponsor the park. We have partners here as well that may be interested but we need to have something that they don't have or else they would simply do it themselves. We need the political types to lobby for the space allocation as well.

Hope this helps.

Ron

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Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Ron,

That would be amazing! Can I add you to the team? We would love love love to pilot in a school and would love to be put in touch with a partner NGO! We discussed the idea of having a park sponsor and talking with CSR teams, Janice, another team member is speaking with her companies CSR team to determine how we would go about getting sponsorship. I like the idea of a rental program as well perhaps we could rent things like bike attachables which harvest KE for example and maybe other similar harvesters. Let me know if you'd like the join the team and I will add you! And honestly if your partners want to simply do it themselves, I would love that. Please steal my ideas! Hahaha if people take free good ideas, the world gets richer :)

http://ideas.ted.com/2014/02/03/the-big-mistake-we-all-make-about-ideas/

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Photo of Monika Shankar
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Hi Natalie,

Well done! Like many have already commented below, I'm really liking this idea based on the participatory nature of the project. Two quick questions: (1) is there a way to convey to users of the eco-park the benefits generated from participating in the educational activities? I'm thinking along the lines of how someone might better understand the impact they are having on energy, the planet and/or their own health. And (2) how might you bring these types of experiences to communities that are park-poor? I work in communities where parks, green space and open space are lacking but much needed. I know some have mentioned below tying these efforts in with local planning and revitalization efforts, which I think is a good start! Would love to hear you thoughts more about how that could be brought to fruition.

Best,
Monika

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Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Monika!

Great questions. The current idea is to have small "energy saved" monitors on the equipment (solar panels, stationary bikes, turbines etc.) However for some of the technologies where you cannot measure impact instantaneously (like using the solar oven instead of a BBQ pit) it might be good to have some small plaques saying things like "By using this solar oven for an hour instead of conventional coal you prevented the emission of 11 lbs of CO2" (crazy right, just found that fact in an article!) What do you think of this?

2- This is where I feel a bit at a loss. My original idea works off of existing infrastructure so I'm not really sure how to approach areas that are park poor. With your experience in this field, do you have any advice for what we could do? The only thing I can think of doing is working with schools' green areas. But then what should we do if the school is lacking green areas as well (which is quite common.) Again, I'd appreciate any and all ideas that you have, it sounds like you have great experience with this.

Thank you for the comments and feedback! It is greatly appreciated :).

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
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Hi Natalie and Monika.
For inspiration on working in communities that have limited green space etc. check out Steven Ritz's Green Bronx Machine. He is a public school teacher and innovator working in the South Bronx. His motivation was to teach children about healthy eating, and to provide food in a food desert as children in his community were getting bigger and sick due to poor nutrition. Ultimately he has educated youth that have gone on to work to improve their communities, improve their health, go to college, get good jobs etc. etc. His work began in his classroom. It has since expanded into local blighted public spaces, as well as school gardens etc. Local council members took notice, the business community came on with funding etc etc. It is awesome stuff!
Perhaps looking within your local school system for innovative thinkers is a place to start a conversation? Create a team and bring an idea to local leaders about accessing empty urban space, or in between spaces? Working with innovative educators within communities may also help with the design of the educational component of the park - as to Moniker's first question. Community centers, YMCAs etc. may also be places to find folk looking to bring new ideas and projects to the community.
http://greenbronxmachine.org/portfolio/tour-of-bissell-gardens/
https://www.facebook.com/green.BX.machine?fref=photo
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=651525854902249&set=vb.177936165594556&type=2&theater
http://www.ted.com/talks/stephen_ritz_a_teacher_growing_green_in_the_south_bronx?language=en

One thought I had about the educational aspect of the park - How can a user's experience influence how they learn about renewable energy? For example - How might the experience be different around solar ovens if a family comes upon a food cart selling delicious healthy dried fruits and buys them as snacks. The bag might tell the story of how the fruit snack was made and what this means - to the planet etc - in a way that is tangible, maybe visually? (Your example about CO 2 emissions is too abstract for me. How can it be translated for adults and kids?) Maybe the solar oven display is nearby or the bag directs them to it? Is this approach different than coming upon a solar oven display? even if there are fruits there to try? I am not sure but I think how one finds the information in this park might be important. An element of surprise might be fun and memorable. Hopefully the park will attract all folk, not just those already interested in renewable energy. The educational needs and approach may be different for different groups of people. Just thinking out loud here. What do you think?

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Bettina,

Wow Steve Ritz's Green Bronx Machine project is incredible! Thank you for sharing. I did a few research papers on food deserts are such an overlooked problem in urban areas and this is an incredible initiative. What an awesome way to create stewardship in youth and the community as a whole. Again, thank you for sharing this super project.

I really like the idea of selling healthy dried fruits and nuts as snacks with packaging that explains the initiative. I think it would be a great way to raise awareness and get people involved without them having to necessarily take the time to fully use the technology. I also like the idea of having a "to learn more visit this area of the park" label on the package! What a great idea. I like this idea of getting them involved aside from forcing them to read a plaque.

Janice and I will definitely have to brainstorm up some new ways to engage the community. Thank you for the awesome snack idea and let us know if you think of any others!

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi! If you like the idea of packaging messaging for the fruits another one popped into my head so I am sharing..... In NYC we have a "pooper scooper" law for pet owners. Some parks have boxes positioned at the entrances holding plastic bags for dog owners who need one. You mention using dog feces for fuel and fertilizer in the park. Not sure if you are planning to collect from park users' pets but either way if you do provide bags, or a bag box in which locals place bags (that is what we have in my local park), the box and/or the bags might be opportunities for messages about this and can also direct one to see the initiatives in the park itself.
Love the eco bricks idea. This would be a great material to use to construct a children's play house in the playground. Check out the children's playhouse constructed with pumpkins in the Haunted Children's Garden at the NYC Botanical Garden for Halloween. (I was there. The kids were all over it!) Perhaps building at scale for kids will give their parents ideas for projects at home as well. http://nyc.mommypoppins.com/content/the-haunted-pumpkin-garden-at-the-new-york-botanical-garden-halloween-fun-for-nyc-kids
This park is going to be fun!

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Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Bettina,

Thank you for some more great ideas and comments. Yes we would provide the bags, because the biodigestable bags are special. It will also incentivize people to pick up after their dog per the pooper scooper law :). Perhaps we could print some information about climate change or about the initiative on the bags though so thank you for the great comment :)

Ecobricks are amazing. A friend of mine constructed an entire library for a community out of ecobricks. It is seriously beautiful, take a look at the photos in this article...

http://www.el-nacional.com/mundo/Construyen-ecomuseo-Peru-botellas-plastico_5_320417965.html

The entire museum is made out of recyclables and wood :).

The pumpkin garden is awesome!! It would be really neat to construct different buildings based on the time of year. Thank you for the share!

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

That is a great idea about doing seasonal projects Natalie. Might be a great idea for a community initiative with accompanying workshops for kids. Also a good opportunity to talk about climate change as it is highlighted by what is happening seasonally over the cycle of the year.

Thanks for sharing the photos. Beautiful!

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Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Great brainstorming here team! Love seeing how the idea is moving forward! A friendly note: a link in your update is broken and you can fix it by following instructions here: http://bit.ly/oi_link.

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi ShuTing,

That is so odd, I tried both links and they worked but I updated them in the format you suggested so thank you!

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Photo of Janice Campbell
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Really blown away by Steven Ritz! Thanks for sharing. I'm sure we can incorporate some of his brilliant ideas.

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
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Great! Isn't it inspirational? I think it also exemplifies the power of community as well.

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Photo of Roberto Luberti
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Hi Natalie,

what about generate electricity via cycle roads (using piezoelectric materials), it would be good to show/remind bikers that they can generate light just passing by...

Cheers,

Roberto

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Roberto!

I love piezoelectrics and this would definitely be great for the park. I've been toying with the idea of having solar bike pathways l but I think your idea for piezoelectrics would give the park patrons another opportunity to interact with the park itself. Thank you for the wonderful idea!

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Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Janice,

That stinks! I assumed everyone had MLK off. I'm restarting the thread here so Meena isn't bombarded with all our emails discussing these plans :). Okay, I think the outline is very strong but we can leave the idea above as the same with your edits if you want to edit that GoogleDoc I sent earlier. Would you mind turning on "suggestions" instead of "edits" that way I can see what you changed :).

For growers I did mean the California Rare Fruit Growers :). and sounds great about CSR, no pressure to do it all right now but might be good to start getting some leads. I hope that while you did not have the day off, it was still enjoyable.

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Photo of Janice Campbell
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Hi Natalie,
Do you mean, to incorporate the new ideas and feedback into the GoogleDoc as part of the original proposal rather than as added-on "Updates"? Hope you had a good week.

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Janice,

I meant the GoogleDoc because I do not think you can update the idea, right? If they changed this and you can update the idea with your thoughts and feedback please feel free to! Again, if you can turn on track changes (suggestions) so I can see what you update, that'd be great. Thank you! My week was alright, had a few phone interviews and those are really tough for me hahaha. Hopefully this week will be better! I hope your week was nice as well and that you are enjoying your weekend :).

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Photo of Janice Campbell
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Unfortunately, been sick with a bad cold for a few days. Let me see what I can do. More ideas have come in and want to reflect on them and add to the outline first. Perhaps we should wait for the feedback phase?

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Janice,

Sorry to hear that! There has been a bug going around the bay. I've updated the ideas for the most part, please let me know if I am missing anything though. We can wait for the feedback phase, I feel like a lot will change then. Feel better!

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Photo of Janice Campbell
Team

Natalie,
I think you've done a great job incorporating all the ideas into the proposal from the comments below. Eventually, we might refine some of the ideas around the park being self-sustaining: 1) produces all the energy it needs to consume; 2) recycles, composts, or biodegrades waste (from visitors or the park itself) on site; 3) and is maintained by volunteers. I realize it is not practical or wise to create such a park from the ground up right away. I like your idea of prototyping food preparation installations (dehydrator, oven, cookstove), which can be implemented in any number of current parks with picnic or demo areas.

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Janice,

This all sounds great. I made a google doc with all of the above information, and we can refine it. I like your bullet points and I think they would go great at the beginning of the section. As we edit, I will update the idea. Here is a link to the doc..

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fkdhJeZW4hqXDjcjODfS1Mu1VcuerQ1HxguPqmQVxYI/edit?usp=sharing

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Photo of Meena Kadri
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Great collaboration, folks! Prototyping and exposing real people to aspects of the idea through lightweight experiments will be where this idea really evolves. Can't wait to see where things head!

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Photo of Janice Campbell
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Hi Natalie, I could not edit your doc. Maybe too long since I've used google docs? My idea was to make an outline of the ideas contributed and, perhaps, later, create some kind of mapping or diagram to show the relationships. But, that's a bit further down the road. My outline is here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RUhRbU11NFYJv86c427NgA7heyYLpdYGTKvCQ_SIiAU/edit?usp=sharing. Feel free to just review or incorporate in your doc as you see fit.

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Photo of Natalie Lake
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Hi Janice,

That is so weird. Can you try again and let me know if it still isn't working. I made sure that the edit function was on. I'll take a look at your outline in the meantime. Thank you for the edits and feedback!

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Photo of Janice Campbell
Team

Hi Natalie,
Yes, now I am able to edit it directly. Did you have a chance to look at my outline? I'm not sure if you want it incorporated into your doc. What you have is more interesting to read and could become a proposal. What I did was just try to summarize all the ideas and outline them. What would you like me to do? Hope you had a great weekend! Janice

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Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Janice,

Your outline was great and I think perfectly framed the idea. Would you like for me to put the outline above and keep the above text more for proposals? I think it is a cleaner, more succinct way of phrasing our project and we could always add the other text as a doc on the side :). I'd also love your input on CSR in the text that is currently in the doc and I'd love to hear if you heard any news from the growers that we could maybe post in an update. Have a wonderful MLK day!

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Photo of Janice Campbell
Team

Natalie,
I thought the outline was something we could use as a reference showing the ideas, their relationships to each other and what tasks or implementations might evolve out of them. Was not intended as a replacement for the wonderful description you already provided. But it could highlight any contributions you might have missed in your updates. A few more contributions came in, so I should check to make sure listed in my outline. I think ok to keep as separate but related docs.
Wasn't sure if we should pursue contacts until later phases (I'm a newbie). I can contact CSR for ideas. Not sure about the growers. Do you mean http://www.crfg.org/? Contact them to see if interest in hosting a dehydrator demo in one of their gardens?
Despite the meaningful holiday, we are not off :-(
Janice

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Photo of Michael Mazotti
Team

What a great idea! I really like the workshop aspect and getting the community involved. If you had community members involved with the initial construction of particular setups, I feel it would take their appreciation for the park to a whole new level. If community members have a sense of ownership of the park they will help it flourish. This would empower individuals as well as strengthen the survival of the park. Many people stay in their neighborhood for generations, sometimes their entire lives, and to have caretakers that enjoy devoting their time to upkeep the park will be very beneficial as well as cost effective.

Having institutions, mainly schools in mind, involved with some initial construction as well could also put the park in a good position should it ever need future funds or support. This would build an early bridge between institutions and the park. The institution would also be in a comfortable position to host workshops early on, brining additional publicity. Another great thing about getting institutions involved is the support they can provide in maintaing the park. Institutions could adapt the park into their extra curricular activities for students or interns, or even use the park as a place where they can host events that satisfy their agenda. The park would surely be receiving additional support through this network that would keep it maintained and operational for the general public.

I would have loved to visit a park such as this as Kindergardener and even as a College student. Out of school I would look forward to doing a run around the park and enjoy watching the general public interact with the setups as I make my laps. This is something every curious mind would greatly appreciate. Fantastic idea!

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Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Michael,

I think that that is a great idea! It would be great to get community involvement to build the park! It would be a sort of Courts for Kids idea where the community gets together and everyone pitches in to build the park. We could maybe hold a workshop and then the "test for learning" would be the construction and implementation of all of these technologies.

I like your idea of working with schools also. I wonder if a school or university would be interested in creating their own (maybe with no dogpark) Mini-Climate Change and Renewable Energy Education park. Having an institution sponsor the park would be really cool.

Thank you for all the great feedback! Looking forward to further collaboration!

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Photo of Andrea Zelenak
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At my University we have sponsored projects for a full semester (I'm sure others have similar things) where organizations come in with a brief (instead of the professor) and see what we can do. If this brief were to be brought to even one class of 20 people, so many kids would jump at the chance to have their projects have real-life application and actually make a difference with their skills!

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Hi Ange,

This is a great idea! At my University we had a Community Based Design class and a Capstone class that designed and implemented projects like this. In both, the community basically came in with a challenge/request and the students would design the solution. This would definitely be a great way to get schools involved with implementing this parks! Thank you the great feedback and idea!

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Natalie:
This sounds like a fantastic idea! I see that someone has commented earlier on involving the community in the construction and implementation of the parks -- what are your thoughts on bringing some of these ideas to school playgrounds, or other potential venues, in addition to local parks?

Best,
Holly

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Hi Holly,

I would love to see a school (be it University or PreK-12) implement some of the technologies in their own areas. With experiential education being such a powerful teaching tool, I believe that once schools see the potential (perhaps in this community park pilot) they will adopt their own similar technologies. I think this park will be an incredible place to create awareness and education for the community and will definitely inspire the community to take control of their own energy needs and decrease their overall carbon footprint. Thank you for the encouraging feedback!

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Community colleges and university Early Childhood Education programs often create day care centers so that students can experience and practice what they learn. What if several departments (engineering, architecture, business, horticulture, environmental sciences, ECE, etc.) formed a coalition to design and run such a playground/education center for their local communities? Many benefits: community service + course credit + hands-on training + prototyping experience + design thinking + experience in grant writing! And more!

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Hi all. Natalie this is a great idea.
Jumping in to this discussion about schools. You might be inspired by the NY Hall of Science Playground in Queens, NY. The playground is meant as a play/learning space primarily to learn about physics. It is an unbelievably fun and amazing place. Check the website as they have a Summer Institute for Middle School teachers in which the teachers learn how play and learning can go hand in hand. They are encouraged to use their local playgrounds for learning environments, as well as planning class trips to the Science Playground. I wonder if this playground might inspire something for the Eco Park you envision. Might there be a playground that teaches aspects of renewable energy? Might teachers use the park, as well as be invited there to learn themselves?
http://nysci.org/science-playground/
http://www.jcca-nyc.com/hallofscience.html
http://www.jcca-nyc.com/pdf/Curator_Article.pdf - This article is a great resource on Informal Science Learning in Museum Playgrounds

Here is a link to a research post I put up. Might be something that would fit well in your eco park? https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/research/designing-community-spaces-using-solar-energy
This installation borders a nature park in Israel which I think was an interesting choice. (Check one of the comments to learn about that.)

As to finding land to create your eco park - Barry's question above - Maybe this park can be developed within an existing park? Perhaps a large city park would do a pilot within one section of the park. This would remove the need for new land and provide built in maintenance. As many cities are moving towards renewable energy I wonder if this project might interest one. There might be a foundation involved in bringing together public and private partners around something like this?
Another idea is donation of private land. There seem to be many folk invested in this transition. Might fit into the ideals of a private person or corporation?

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Any small prototype in mind? Good luck.

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Check this project proposal out. It is on a larger scale than I think you are proposing but exciting and based on public/private parntership.
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=cache:2_3Z6ohSiP0J:http://www.brownfieldsconference.org/Documents/SessionDocument/Document/3564%2Bannapolis+energy+park&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&&ct=clnk

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Hi Bettina,

This playground is awesome!! They did a lot of research into this playground! I totally agree about importance of play especially as a way for informal science education (we need to get more kids involved with STEM!) I love that they have "explainers" to explain the science and answer any kids' questions! I also love love love the water exhibit. It'd be neat if we could do some sort of water exhibit/demonstration of a hydro-turbine.

For the small prototype, I wanted to run a pilot with a fruit dehydrator and a solar oven at a nearby garden just to gage interest and see if people enjoy using these alternatives.. Janice brought up a great idea of working with a group that grows rare fruit trees in the bay area to test out the fruit dehydrators.

Could you repost the second link? The words are showing up oddly and I cannot figure out where.

Thank you for the great comments and ideas!

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Hi Bettina,

Also I forgot to mention two things! I LOVE the solar trees! They would make amazing picnic areas! And my hope is to work with existing parks, a sort of face lift for an urban park is how I envision the first park.

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Bettina's links (Science Playgrounds) remind me that we might also consider getting some ideas from the Exploratorium, which also host teacher training programs http://www.exploratorium.edu/education.

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Hi Janice and Natalie. I agree that the Exploratorium is a great place to get some ideas as well.

One thing I love about the Solar Trees is that they store energy and create light when it is dark which can activate the space creating a safe environment at night, another way to connect people within communities, and to bring awareness to solar power.

What is the fruit dehydrator?

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Hi Bettina!

I think the exploratorium is a great example of a fun interactive STEM diffusing destination. Also, that is a really great point about the Solar Trees. Lighting at night in parks is definitely one of the park's major energy consumptions.

A solar fruit dehydrator is a really simple technology that uses the sun to dehydrate fruits. It is also very easily built. It is usually made of wood and some screening. I built some in Peru and while they are very simple they are also very effective. They do take longer to dehydrate fruits than an electronic dehydrator but are much more environmentally friendly :). Here is a link to an instructables on how to build one.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-Food-Dehydrator-Dryer/

This is similar to the ones I built in Peru but here is a link with some different designs.

http://theselfsufficientliving.com/8-free-diy-or-homemade-solar-food-dehydrator-making-plans/

Hope this answers your question and as always, thank you for the great feedback, comments and ideas!

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After reading so many wonderful comments, suggestions and ideas building on top of each other, I thought of another source of funding: corporate. I think of my own company, which is LEED certified and very concerned about energy consumption. As most companies, we have a Corporate Social Responsibility business unit. I think we could tap into the CSR of any number of companies who are looking to give back to their communities and willing to provide not only funding but also employee expertise and volunteer time.

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Hi Janice!

I think corporate funding would be amazing. Do you have any connections with your company's CSR unit? If you joined the team, would you be able to gage interest with your CSR unit to figure out if they would be interested in funding such a project? It would be nice to test the waters in the pilot/prototyping phase to ensure that companies would be interested in funding such a project.

Again, thank you so much for all the wonderful comments and feedback!

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Yes, I do know who the CSR folks are. But there are many companies. Starbucks, for example, gives back to local coffee-growing communities outside the US, from which they purchase their fair-trade beans. Just an example of a company that might be willing to support a "sister" effort outside the US.

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Hi Janice,

Right, I just meant to gage general interest but I think you're right in that it would be better to gage interest at multiple companies. It would be great if through your contacts, they could give us tips on how to approach CSR units at other companies about this idea. What do you think?

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Yes, I'd be happy to chat with the CSR folks in my company.

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Thank you that would be great. Also please let me know if there is anything you'd like to update or change on the page.

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Hi Natalie
I've gone through the whole page and all comments and made my own little outline (still a bit rough). Nothing else missing that I can think of. There are a lot of ideas here and any number of directions to go for prototyping. Anything you'd like me to do in this stage?

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This is a very practical idea and has a great impact on the community. I can see this being very popular. Incorporating a playground into the eco park or an eco park into an existing playground/picnic park might be a good way to start and perhaps addresses Barry's concerns about land use. Of course, that will depend on the country, region, community. I've visited some of these demo gardens http://www.valleywater.org/Prorgams/DemonstrationGardens.aspx (mostly water conservation). Perhaps one of them might be willing to test out this idea? I seem to recall a demo park somewhere in Northern California which showcased alternative energy but can't find it now.

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Hi Janice,

I think that is a great idea. I've been thinking about how to make a practical prototype lately and I have basically decided that trying out a fruit dehydrator and or a solar oven in a community park/playground was my best bet.

These demo gardens sound great! I'm going to see if I can get out and see one in the next few weeks just to check out and maybe to ask them if they'd be interested in testing out one of these technologies! Thank you so much for sharing this! This demonstration/park is the exact feel that I'm going to with a hint of a fun science museum as well :).

Thank you for the great comments!

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Fruit dehydrator? Then Emma Prusch park! They preserve the fruit trees for education. Scion exchanges are often held there (Got a Lampeira fig scion at one event http://www.crfg.org/chapters/golden_gate/other_2014_scion_exchanges.html). They already have a windmill. http://www.pruschfarmpark.org/prusch-park-foundation.html

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Hi Janice,

Great I will start with them! Do you have already relationship with the park? If not, I'm sure I can find my way down to San Jose. Also are you a part of the crfg golden gate chapter? I think that would be a really great group of users to get interested in solar fruit dehydrators! perhaps we could hold a class on how to build your own! This is super neat! Thank you for sharing!

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No, I don't know anyone personally affiliated with that park but do know some people in horticulture and landscaping, especially at the Foothill College program, so certainly can ask around. I know at least 2 people who do dehydrate their own fruits at home (small scale), so could ask them to help out as well.

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Hi Janice,

I hope you had a nice weekend. That would be amazing! I think prototyping with fruit growers would be an ideal prototype. I think small scale is what we are aiming for anyways so that is perfect. Thank you so much!

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Hi Natalie, sounds like a great idea to change cultural perception and add value to local communities. I like how you have board that will display the energy output of the eco-park so that visitors can see the impact; I would suggest that this idea be incorporated at a more micro level across the park. For example the bikes will log the energy output per session: so if a person is riding on the bike to power the light, during the exercise it will show how much energy they are producing and at the end display: 'you powered the light for an extra 40 minutes, thanks!'. Something along those lines will provide more connection to each individual; the more a person invests and sees the return, the more connected they will feel to the park. Anyway, great work. Love to see this get developed further.

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Hi Rob,

I think that is a great idea. It will build on the stewardship and leave the user with a sense of empowerment. I also already see it creating a sort of competition between the kids who visit the park. Thank you for the wonderful comments and great idea! Let me know if you think of any other great ideas!

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Really like the visual presentation and concept. My main question is how would you get the in addition to making this eco and community friendly, what else would you use to persuade the land planners or local council to 'get on board' for this for use of the land?

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Hi Barry,

That is a great question! I think that two of the motivations for local councils (or possibly schools) to pilot this project will be the educational component and the opportunity to be the first. Because of the Green Movement that is currently underway, everyone wants to be the greenest XX. Being the first University to have an EcoPark, or the first city to have an EcoPark would definitely be a huge selling point but on top of this, it will make the University or park a destination for local schools and community members to come learn about renewables and climate change. What do you think? Do you think that there is a better way that I could incentivize land planners and local councils to take interest in this project? Thank you for the comments!

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The community and green/eco-friendly nature of the aspect is definitely the big plus. For places like local government and the public sector they are under limited funds (or are seriously being cutback). I would say the a way to incentivize and motivate these partners will be to mention the sustainability and cost of the project (not just socially) but at the very least aim to break even on what it would have cost to maintain the land if was run by the public sector or at least show that you could do good by saving them money in the long run then everyone wins.

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Hi Barry,

I think that is a really great point. They will inevitably save money by switching to these technologies and I think I should definitely talk that up! I think another cool selling point will be getting community involvement in park maintenance. A huge costs for parks each year is maintenance and so by creating a sense of stewardship, the community will take over a lot of that responsibility. Thank you for the great feedback!

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Tie this to revitalization of urban neighborhoods? There are many urban programs, for example, to have communities come together and, with their own hands and own efforts, turn underused or deteriorated plots into parks, gardens or playgrounds. With some expert consultation (funded by volunteer experts or grants), they can add the renewable energy sources and education.

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Saw a couple of articles on playgrounds that generate energy (for the community) so that might be a way to finance as well.

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HI again Janice,

Wow that is a really great idea! I found that habitat has a great program for revitalizing communities and not just homes (posting a link below) that I think could really help spread this idea. I will be contacting them immediately. You are coming up with some great ideas! Let me know if you'd like to join the team and help me start a pilot.

http://www.habitatgsf.org/nri#.VLFnMorF_50

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Yes, I would join the team.

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Suggestion: ask for some consultation on the biodigester. I think manure, even composted, that comes from carnivores, cannot be used on edibles. Incorporate chickens into the park (part of an urban farm or petting zoo?). See http://deerhollowfarmfriends.org/ or http://www.hiddenvilla.org/. Oh, and either of these might be good candidates for demos, prototyping.

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Hi Janice,

You are right that it cannot be used on edibles but it can be used on ornamentals. Good point! I imagine this park having a non edible section as well so it will be need to be highly stressed that this fertilizer is for non edible plants :). Thank you for the comment!

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Hi Natalie,

I love the idea. I think we should be introducing children and the public to new technologies and sustainable solutions. My concern is though, with all these technologies in a public setting, how safe is all this? I heard solar ovens can get really hot, will I have to be constantly telling my son not to touch things?

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Hi Eddie,

I do think safety should be a concern (as with any technology.) The parabolic solar ovens can get quite hot (there are youtube videos where a piece of blank paper catches on fire!) but the same could be said for a BBQ pit when it is being used. That being said, I would like for the parabolic solar ovens to have a cover that can be placed over the oven when the oven is not in use. (So that no one wanders over and burns themselves.)

Thank you for sharing your very valid concerns!

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Hi Natalie,

Congratulations on being a featured contribution! This is really a great idea!
I would add a place in the park dedicated to "adopt this at home" approach where visitors can learn about home/school versions of these technologies.
There is also a space for educational workshops, events and lectures.
Such a great idea.

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Hi Tatiana,

That is a great idea! Thank you for the feedback, another user suggested something similar and I think I will update my posting with your guys' combined idea. Thank you for collaborating!

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That's very nice. Another suggestion I have is to build an ecosystem where migratory birds can come to rest or breed.
I live in Singapore, and migratory birds often pass through our country, a recent project by our national parks guys was to design a park that is a suitable resting or breeding ground for such birds. (Our government loves to attract tourists if you get what I mean).
The park has been finished for a few years, and we're seeing these birds visiting the park more and the ecosystem is gradually getting healthier

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Hi YuYou,
I really like that idea! Quite a few of the parks in the US are centered around some sort of protected area, so it would be nice to send a message that they are taking ecosystem protection to another level by using renewables instead of fossil fuels! Thank you for collaborating!

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I think that this is an excellent idea. It seams like an obvious platform for community education and information. As it was advised to my own idea, I think there is a of inspiration for installations and information techniques in festivals designs for renewable energy.

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Thank you Lars! I definitely agree, perhaps if the park is a huge success they could run their own festival each year like the ones I posted on your idea!

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Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!

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Thank you Joanna!

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I think this is a great idea and addresses one of the underlying problems in the renewable energy conversation which, as you mentioned, is that people aren't well informed on just how feasible renewable energy solutions can be. In addition to the different energy systems demonstrations around the park, it would be cool to have a central park information board that explained some of the systems in a little bit more detail. The energy output from some of the systems (solar panels, hydroelectric, methane gas) can be monitored and the central park board could have a display that said something like "The energy collected at this park today could have powered a typical house for XX hours." to give people an even better understanding of how far the energy from these systems can go. Awesome idea.

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Hi Ben,

I love that idea! I think having meters in general to show the different systems' outputs would be a great addition to this park design and I love the idea of pointing out how much the park as a whole is saving. Thank you!

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Sounds like a perfect idea for San Francisco! Hands on learning is perfect for kids especially when it comes to renewable energy concepts which are sometimes difficult to understand without a visual. This is definitely a park I'd be interested in visiting!

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Hi Jamie,

I totally agree. I think these technologies are incredibly difficult to learn about without some experiential eduction (touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, etc.) Thank you!

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This is a great idea Natalie! Community park is definitely a great place for public renewable energy education. In my experience, cities have more community parks while urban residents are generally more educated about renewable energy; suburban areas have parks too (tho not as many and not strictly community park type) and may need this education better. For example, the small town where I lived before in VA didn't have recycling dumpster. Do you have idea whether in urban or suburban areas you would like to have your park?

Another thing that is worth thinking is talking with the government (parks & recreation department lol). Considering parks are municipal space in most areas, it may be good to try to talk and even collaborate with the government as well as relevant institutions for smooth operation.

I look forward to more ideas and refinements of this great snack-able, 4D community park idea. :)

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Hi Shuting,

I think that is a really great point and something I hadn't yet decided. I think that this idea could work in both an urban and a rural area. I was originally imagining an urban setting because I was envisioning a science museum/community park hybrid. I could see schools taking fieldtrips to the park for an educational but fun day outside of school.

I definitely agree that there is a huge need for this type of educational park in suburban areas as well though so I would like to pursue pilots in both settings. A suburban area would also afford me the opportunity to do a food forest too which would be great.

Also thank you for the tip! I definitely should contact my local parks and rec department and see if they would be interested in pursuing a pilot park like this.

Thank you for the wonderful feedback and comments.

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this sounds so fun and really practical! This is the main idea behind sciende museums all over the country, imagine if that kind of fun learning was accessible to all kids(not just those that can afford it)! The minds you could reach and the passion you could ignite could do amazing things for our future!

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Hi Scotney,

That is exactly the sort of feel I was going for, a hybrid science museum/community park. I hadn't even thought about the accessibility side of things and I think that is a great point. Thank you for your comments.