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Since the early months of the invasion of Ukraine, a small group of us has been collaborating to send converted solar panels capable of charging up to four USB devices at a time to Ukraine. This was the brainchild of Rich Stromberg, an instructor at Western States University and a co-founder of an organization called Equitable Solar Solutions. Rich and his students took solar panels that otherwise would have been destined for the waste stream and converted them to charging stations for cell phones and other USB devices. Additionally the students were able to write messages of support on the back of the panels, something the recipients in Ukraine appreciated as much as the ability to charge devices.
To date we have sent 27 units to Ukraine and now have an established and reliable means of shipping these at a cost of around $100 per unit. Most of the units have been shipped to the Rotary Club of Lviv International for distribution throughout Ukraine, although the last shipment that went out a few weeks ago also was shipped to Chernihiv in NE Ukraine and to a village outside of the capitol Kyiv. The reactions to receiving these has been uniformly positive and full of immense gratitude. They are particularly valuable now that Ukraine’s power grid has been under attack and most parts of the country are experiencing intermittent or prolonged blackouts, knocking out internet as well. The beauty of these devices is that they can keep cell phones, which are primarily served by satellite, charged and functioning. In many cases, this is the only way people can connect with friends, neighbors, family and the world at large.
THE TASK AT HAND:
The task at hand is obviously to get more of these devices to Ukraine as quickly as possible. Rich and I have been talking about how to increase production and the immediate and best solution is to have more people making them. The technology and assembly process is not particularly complex, nor does obtaining materials present a significant obstacle. To make this transfer of talent and information even easier, Rich will be coming to Boulder on Feb. 18 to teach a group of Fairview High School students how to make these, and will be filming an instructional video for distribution and posting on YouTube at the same time. I’m delighted to say that our friends at Rocky Mountain PBS will be there to film Rich’s instructional presentation as part of a story they are doing for the tragic one year anniversary of the invasion.
This presentation and hands-on demonstration is open to those interested in supporting our project and hopefully replicating it in their own organization or institution. My vision is that a Rotary Club, a church or temple, or a school can see how easy and important this project is and say, “Yes, let’s do this!” Organizations can commit to doing this as a one time event, perhaps getting together to construct 10 panels, or take this on as an ongoing project, committing to producing a certain number of panels per month.
We can provide assistance with shipping and obtaining the necessary parts, as well as technical assistance if needed beyond the instructional video that is being produces.
We will be meeting at Fairview HS in Boulder at 10:00am on Saturday, February 18. We’ll plan on building on the side of the school nearest the back parking lot. There’s some picnic tables out there we can set up on. If it’s too cold or snowy, we can bring them into one of the labs.
Fairview High School
1515 Greenbriar Blvd.
Boulder, CO 80305
Best place to access is the back parking lot off of Knox.
I DO NEED AN RSVP from anyone interested in attending. I sincerely hope I am overwhelmed by interest from humanitarian organizations and individuals. Please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me at 845-797-7286 for more information or to register for the event.
Once again, many thanks to those participating and promoting, and those supporting Ukraine during this time of terrorism and genocide, as well as assault on freedom throughout the world. See you Saturday.
– Andy Lenec