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We Put Panels Where the Sun Shines

We Put Panels Where the Sun Shines

 

Check out Little Bay Root's energy production

Solar farms may not be a common sight around Oregon, but look close and you’ll spot those sun-gathering panels shining on roofs in Portland, Salem, all over the state.

I finally saw the light when I noticed that our partner, Oregon Screen Impressions, transformed its huge, flat roof into a sea of solar panels. What a smart way to offset a big chunk of their energy costs!

The process was easy.

Energy Trust of Oregon helped us get multiple bids and presentations from a few companies. Each group offered different options, including financing, battery back-ups, and arrays of panels that physically look or behave differently. It gets pretty technical with words like "micro inverters" being thrown around a lot.

In the end, we selected Elemental Energy of Portland (keeping it local, as usual). They had all their ducks in a row and their response time to questions and concerns was almost immediate. They offered the same customer service LBR gives its customers, so the choice was obvious.

The installers arrived (right on time!) during "Snowmageddon 2017" here in Portland. They were troopers and climbed our roof even on the coldest days to ensure that we would qualify for all 2016 rebates.

The results are great.

Unlike Oregon Screen Impression’s ample roof space, LBR could fit just 18 panels on our multi-level roof. But here's the amazing part: they've been in action for six weeks, and our electric bill already has been cut by a third! (And those were some dark, wet weeks, if you recall.)

As a designer, I love monitoring these little graphics that change with your production level. For example, on the sunniest day in February, this is how we did:

This infographic depicts just one day's production. Feb 13, 2017.
You can see all of our stats on our energy production here.

Installing solar panels is definitely a long-term investment. We opted to buy our system outright to start seeing returns immediately, but there are lots of financing options available.

In addition, we have cut our natural gas usage and are heating more and more with electric heat. Who ever thought we'd go back to that? Overall, the benefits of solar power are giving this Oregon-loving company a very sunny attitude.

 

You can't get "the butterfly effect" without milkweed!

You can't get

When I was a kid growing up in the woods of New Hampshire, milkweed plants grew in the areas that surrounded our vegetable garden. When I was 10 or 12 years old, my big brother told me the importance of these "weeds". And they were. No one planted these...they just were there, like every other fern or wild blueberry bush. Just something nature provided. My big brother taught me that in some time, toward the middle to end of the summer, we'd be able to spot some juicy, plump (but not tasty, i don't think) caterpillars that would transform into beautiful, vibrant butterflies. And that milkweed is the ONLY thing these fellas eat!

Not long after the brief introduction to this new world, I had found some caterpillars and made them a home in a jar in my bedroom. I put some milkweed in with the little transformer and to my surprise, one weekday morning, my caterpillar was gone! It had turned into the most beautiful colored green pupae and stayed that way for some time.

The anticipation killed me, because there was nothing but stillness. Then, slowly the chrysalis became clearer, and the bright colors of the new butterfly became visible. A little more time, and my own butterfly was ready to spread it's wings and join all the other creatures in the garden.

The Milkweed that grew so "weedily" in my little bit of heaven in New Hampshire, doesn't have such an easy time any more. There are numerous reasons that the population of the Monarch butterfly is decreasing, including loss of habitat and weed killers. The single best thing you can do to keep these little pollinators from going extinct, is to provide them a little habitat.

Milkweed can be planted in almost any area of your yard. It does well in most conditions. I remember them growing best in sunny areas as a kid. But as an adult, we now have them all over the yard, in all kinds of varied locations. Wet, dry, sunny and shady.

The best part of this all? You can get milkweed seeds for free and help keep our pollinators healthy and in flight for years to come.

This blog post shows you what I described doing as a child. It's a great activity for kids and nature lovers.

Vision Zero

Vision Zero

Between 2008-2012, 135 people died and more than 33,000 were injured in traffic crashes in Portland. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable. On average, 12 pedestrians and 2 cyclists per year are killed while crossing Portland streets.

Do you know about Vision Zero? Seems like it would help with my sustained ability to receive irritated looks from cyclists.
Their achievement so far that has affected LBR's daily commute(s) is the North Williams project. This project improved sidewalk and pedestrian crossing infrastructure, buffered left- side bike lanes, intersection redesigns and traffic calming along the Rodney Street neighborhood greenway. Trying to turn left off of Williams was a nightmare before this was fixed, if you remember.

 

Having had a non-pedestrian (thank God) related accident a week ago, I thought I'd share.

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Oregon Apparel: Keep It Local Now

Oregon apparel: we keep it green with our gear

At Little Bay Root, we keep our goods locally made because we know how important it is. We know you want Oregon apparel so you can show your love of our great state, but bonus: by purchasing from us, you’re sending the love right back to Oregon.

We keep it unique

Our products are unique because we keep our focus local. This means what you get with Little Bay Root is an Oregon shop full of goods you can’t find anywhere else.

No middle men

Our goods are made. We sell them to you. That’s it. With no middle man to pay off, we can share that savings with you.

We know our shirt(s)

We keep our focus simple: Oregon apparel, the occasional pint glass or sticker. No mass marketing fails; we know what our customers want because we live and work amongst them. This means we can focus on what you love without stretching ourselves too thin and driving our costs up.

Support your community

We live and work in Portland, so every Oregon hoodie or t-shirt you buy is funneling taxes and funds straight back to the local economy. Supporting Little Bay Root means more jobs and funds to keep Oregon great.

Keeping it green

And we don’t mean just the color of our hats. We source locally made shirts to reduce our carbon footprint. Our shirts travel less before we send them to you, so that’s less exhaust in the air, less gasoline used, and less rubber worn by the road. Buying our Oregon apparel means you’re helping our great state stay green.

We at Little Bay Root pride ourselves on doing what we love, to create Oregon apparel you’ll adore. We’re locally owned and operated, so we can focus on making products you’ll love. We aren’t a mega-chain, so you can buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy. On top of that, you can be sure you’re benefitting your hometown with every shirt and mug you purchase. Shop our Oregon apparel and be proud that you’re supporting small business and helping promoting the local economy.

Unity & Pride

Unity & Pride

I don't usually comment on current events because they can be such a dividing force, but the act of terrorism against Americans, and specifically the LGBT community in Orlando hit my little community hard. 

From the time I knew I was gay, I understood hate. I understood that people didn't accept people like me as "normal". I understood who was accepting and who were the ones who secretly snickered behind my back. I obviously knew the ones who hated me outright. That was easy. They made themselves known. I once endured a fellow student making what would be considered to be a hate speech in today's terms in front of the whole class. Today, this person may have been expelled. It was directed at me in a Creative Writing class. This young man went on about how being gay was unnatural, evil and most of all to him, disgusting. I disgusted him. Do you ever feel like you disgust people? I distanced myself from those people. I learned quickly who my friends were. I could have tried to teach acceptance, but it's time hadn't come.

I remember when I first saw the "teach tolerance" bumper stickers and thinking how other people would feel if I simply "tolerated" their existence. How does it feel to be tolerated? I remember moving to San Francisco after college and stepping into the first gay bar I have ever been in, The Cafe. There was an overwhelming feeling of "oh my god, look at all these people that are just like me". I couldn't shake the feeling of freedom and acceptance all night. I had never had that. So happy inside. So much love. An openness. An overwhelming feeling of acceptance. Not to just gay people, but to whomever walked in that door. All were welcome.

Times have changed and people are not only accepting the LGBT community, they will defend and fight for the rights of LGBT people, at least here in parts of America. There are less "controls" in place to keep us in our place. Allowing rights that others take for granted. Michael and I got married for example. Before we got married, we went though thousands of dollars of legal work that would help ensure that our assets would pass to one another when we passed on. Now our simple marriage certificate takes care of that. Seems odd now to have had to go through that. We did it because we had to. Did you have to do that? 

Portland is quite a liberal city, and when we head off into the wild with our two small dogs in our camper...we still have to ask ourselves if we "will be safe where we are heading"? The feeling has hindered a few roadside stops. Michael and I still feel like we could get heckled/beaten up when we travel. This fear may be irrational, but when you have states enacting thinly veiled anti-gay laws...you gotta ask...am I safe? Do you have to ask if you're safe where you go on a daily basis?

Every day, some person reminds me that there is still hate. There's hate of the LGBT community. Of America. Of Blacks and Latinos. There is hate. It will never go away. There will be hate until I leave this world.

As a fellow human, let's try to keep the hate down to a minimum, and learn to first tolerate and then, accept. Anyone. Everyone.

 

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