Portable Light

Empower People.

The Portable Light Project enables people in the developing world to create and own energy harvesting textiles, providing the benefits of renewable power as an integral part of everyday life.

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The Portable Light Project has a new graphic icon and logotype created by Trollbäck + Company, an award winning NYC based creative studio that produces content across the broadcast, print and interactive media. Designer Christina Rüegg of Trollbäck + Company took inspiration for this graphic design from the sun’s energy, radiating light, and sewing stitch patterns used in the local / global fabrication of Portable Light solar textile kits. We’re delighted with the new “sew /sew” icon for Portable Light—look for it in print, on the web, integrated into solar textiles, in motion and more!

The Rocky Mountain Institute, our collaborators on the Portable Light Project, will present Portable Light solar textiles in the ‘Technology Arcade’ of the World Energy Justice Conference, October 23-24.

This event will bring together leading international and U.S. decision-makers to explore how to address the critical needs of energy poverty through long-term, interdisciplinary action, information sharing, and deployment of appropriate sustainable energy technologies.

Portable Light at the World Energy Justice Conference in October 23-24 Wolf Law Building, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO


Fast Company has been following the collaboration between PopTech, Timbuk2 Designs, and the Portable Light Project with a series of perspectives on the project by the various players:

Kevin McSpadden of Timbuk2 designs

Sheila Kennedy of the Portable Light Project

Erik Hersman of AfriGadget


“How can you empower people economically in ways that also lift a country? How can you figure out a way to get all the kids in the world in school? How can you fight climate change by making investments that are actually profitable in the long run? President Bill Clinton, Clinton Global Initiative, 2009

Paso Pacifico teams with the Portable Light Project at the 5th Annual Clinton Global Initiative to advance women and girls as environmental leaders in Nicaragua and raise awareness about the leadership roles for women and girls across Central America. Paso Pacifico will provide training and tools to local women as they develop ocean conservation and tree nursery businesses to mitigate climate change. With Portable Light solar textiles, Paso Pacifico will use sustainable technology and market-based approaches to empower women in resource protection and sustainable enterprise development, while also building capacity through education and training in eco-tourism, resource management, and organizational leadership.

Paso Pacifico and The Portable Light Project are working together on CGI innovation programs that will directly benefit the lives of four hundred women and girls in rural Nicaragua, increasing economic and leadership opportunities linked to the environment. Thirty Portable Light solar kits will be distributed to women and girls in communities without electricity. This sustainable technology will provide increased opportunity for education because it will allow work and study during evening hours. In Performance-based Incentives for Conservation, Paso Pacifico and the Paso del Istmo community will designate a beach for a sea turtle hatchery to be managed solely by women. Women will receive Portable Light solar textiles and training in methods for turtle monitoring. The participants in this program will receive up to $50 USD for every nest protected. There are hundreds of nests on these beaches each year.



The Portable Light Project has launched a new phase of economically sustainable Conservation work with NGO Paso Pacifico in the Paso del Istmo region of Nicaragua. Portable Light solar textiles harvest sunlight on locally produced conservation tool bags. At night, the lanterns provide light in local schools where people learn to work in local conservation businesses. Portable Light textiles provide USB clean energy to charge cell phones, enabling cellular service provider Movistar to accelerate connectivity in the region.

Paso Pacifico rangers use Portable light solar textiles at night to protect endangered sea turtle eggs and nests. The participants in this program will receive up to $50 USD for every nest protected. There are hundreds of nests on these beaches each year.

Descargar la Nota de Prensa Paso Pacifico y Portable Light (en Espanol) attached

See Sheila Kennedy speak on the new intersection of clean energy and conservation at the Aspen Institute’s 2009 Forum on Energy and the Environment, “Big Dreams Closing Session”.


Hear Sheila Kennedy on clean energy, mobility and conservation. Please go to minute 13.48 of this clip from Aspen Environment Forum 2009: Big Ideas

From the Closing Reception: Elliot Laws, Crystal Durham, Chip Ransler, David Keith, Sheila Kennedy, Nia Robinson, Nick Nichols and Craig Sieben.



The FLAPs project is now in Africa! FLAPs (Flexible Light and Power) provides an adaptable new form of portable power and light to people without access to the electrical grid or in contexts where electrical power is unreliable. FLAPs is a collaborative effort launched by a world-class group of partners including The Portable Light Project, Timbuk2, and PopTech.

We're using an open integration approach, based on the idea that people can co-create and adopt the ways that FLAP solar kits are used to suit their needs. Follow FLAPs news on the ground in Africa, at http://www.afrigadget.com/category/flap-bag-project with our friends Erik Hersman (Afrigaget), Henry Addo in Ghana (Ushahidi) and David Ngigi in Kenya (a young videographer) as they ask people how they would adopt these kits, look for inventiveness, and explore how FLAPs can be usable and adaptable to everyday life in Africa.

The FLAPs project integrates a new 2 watt lighting and cell phone charging resource created by the Portable Light Team into the flap of a new type of messenger bag, created by Timbuk2. FLAPs power high brightness solid state lighting for 10 hours with a 6 hour solar charge and provide clean energy through a USB port for charging cell phones, medical devices, radios and many other devices. FLAPs can provide mobile power and light for people with cottage industries and small business, for village schools, for mobile doctors and nurses, citizen journalists and conservation workers. Through modular design and global scaling, the FLAPs project holds the potential to be the first affordable, rugged and fully portable resource for clean energy and light.



We're excited to announce that the Portable Light Project has been selected as a Finalist for the INDEX Award, the prestigious European design prize! Our entry is in the INDEX Award Work category.

Please visit designtoimprovelife.dk to see our entry online and to find the schedule for the INDEX traveling exhibit that will feature Portable Light solar textiles starting in August in Copenhagen!



The Portable Light Project was recognized with a 2008 Tech Museum Laureate Award this November. A signature program of The Tech Museum, The Tech Awards is an international awards program that honors innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. Selected from over 400 entries from all over the world, the Portable Light Project was awarded as Laureate in the Economic Development award. Portable Light was recognized for its use of low carbon materials and it’s design innovation in the integration of flexible solar technology into textiles. The project builds human capacity and enables household economic development through the benefits of renewable light at the same times as it grows local economies as women can use traditional skills such as braiding, weaving and sewing to create energy harvesting textiles. Read more at MIT News and on The Tech Awards website, and see Kennedy speaking about the project on the Tech Awards Youtube channel.