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.
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.
Map of possible Eco-Park design
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.
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.
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.
In a sort of Courts for Kids spirit, the community will help with the construction and implementation of the park.
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!
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.
Also for anyone interested in the ecobricks idea, please check out the photos in this link :).
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