The Luz Portatil Brasil team met in Santarem, Para with project partners Fabio Rosa/IDEAAS and Davide Pompermaier of Projecto Saude e Alegria (PSA). The team presented the first Luz Portatil prototypes for discussion at public meetings in Caboclo Communities on the Tapajos and Arapuins rivers of the Amazon, an area which encompasses one of the Amazon’s largest Extractive Reserve regions. The Caboclo people, the largest group of Amazon inhabitants in Brazil (estimated by Greenpeace to be 6 million) are forest dwellers of Amerindian and Portuguese descent, who depend on the river ways and forest for food, livelihoods, shelter and medicines. Most river communities do not have access to electricity; others use the government program “Luz Para Todos”, which imports and sells diesel-generated electricity at monthly fees of 15 Reis for three hours of light per day.
The people we met were excited about using Luz Portatil. They reported that the renewable LED light was much brighter than any flashlight they had, and that kerosene, candles and batteries cost families between 20 and 40 Reis per month. They requested a low light setting, as women like to be able to check on their children at night and suggested many different ways in which access to light and the ability to charge a cell phone could help to grow local sustainable businesses in the communities.
Coopa Roca, the well known women’s artisan group from Rocinas, the oldest favellas in Rio de Janiero, is sewing the solar textiles for Luz Portatil Brasil. This July, the Portable Light team met at Coopa Roca to discuss the patterns with the seamstresses and pick up the first set of solar textiles. It was inspiring to see the Coopa Roca studio; from here you have one of the best views of Rio and the ocean. The women of Coopa Roca work collaboratively using their artisanal skills to earn money so they can plan their lives and take care of their families. Many have strong family ties to the north of Brazil, where the solar textiles they have made will be used by people in isolated River Communities in the Amazon region. In this way, Luz Portatil Brasil benefits two communities—one in the south, the other in the north of Brazil. Read more about the PL Brazil project here.
The Global Journal of Geneva, Switzerland has named the Portable Light Project to their top 100 NGO list, an international ranking of the world’s non-profit organizations that are making significant contributions to global governance. The Global Journal commends the Portable Light Project’s integrated approach of “intersecting energy and mobility with low carbon processes” as crucial in a world fraught with conflict, global warming and rapid urbanization.
The Portable Light kit is recognized for its innovation and capacity to “adapt to a diverse range of cultures and needs, moving away from the 20thcentury historical design model of the hard plastic and glass ‘single form product’ to a soft infrastructure with less than half the embodied energy and carbon emissions of conventional solar power.” The Global Journal is a yardstick of innovative practices in the developing world for many international organizations and government officials, and the Portable Light team is very excited and honored to have made the 2012 list. Read the full press release here .
The Portable Light Project was selected among over 800 entries from all over the world and recognized for best sustainable energy practices in Nicaragua in partnership with NGO Paso Pacifico (link). The ENERGY GLOBE Award was founded in 1999 by the Austrian energy pioneer Wolfgang Neumann and is one of today’s most prestigious environmental awards.
In Nicaragua, women are leading the way on re-forestation and bio-diversity conservation. In partnership with Portable Light and the Clinton Global Initiative, Paso Pacifico has developed training programs to help local campesinas learn about the endangered turtle species and protect their beaches from turtle egg poachers. For each hatchling successfully protected they receive an incentive payment. Their monthly income equals a rural laborers salary, but the job is flexible because women can coordinate their schedules. More than 10,000 turtles have been hatched due to the efforts of these women over the past two years. As women in Nicaragua find their traditional roles expanding, they embrace new ideas and technologies to support themselves. When the Portable Light Project and Paso Pacifico brought solar lamps to the communities, the women used the renewable light to patrol beaches, help their children with homework at night and cook for their families in predawn hours. “One woman told me how excited she was the first time she got up to feed her baby and make tortillas at four a.m.” said Paso Pacifico Director Dr. Sarah Otterstorm , “She could do so in light instead of darkness. Something so inexpensive improves lives dramatically.” Read more about the winners here, and download a PDF of the Portable Light project description in English or German. For more on NGO Paso Pacifico and Portable Light see pasopacifico.org/turtle-rangers.
More than 2 billion people live without electricity, most in extreme poverty. The Portable Light Project creates new ways to provide renewable power in solar textiles that can be adapted to meet the needs of people in different cultures and global regions. Portable Light textiles with flexible solar materials and solid state lighting enable the world’s poorest people to create and own energy harvesting bags, blankets, and clothing using local materials and traditional weaving and sewing techniques in an open source model.
Portable Light enables people in the developing world to benefit from flexible solar nano-technology and accelerates the movement to clean energy worldwide.