PowerWells Update 2: Community Consultation Trip Powered By GEM Energy
Building, networking, travel – and a smouldering volcano!
So much has happened for Nick and Brad aka PowerWells over the last month, we scarcely know where to begin this report. In short – the guys have had their hands full!
They have built the first five Wellsons (their amazing fully recycled power generation kits made from recycled solar panels and laptop batteries) to be deployed as case studies for an effective larger rollout in the future. Brad and Nick have found the locals welcoming, organisations such as Dojo Bali well-organised, and the issues with sourcing parts surmountable – things have fallen into place.
They have been learning as much as possible about the needs of remote communities and built strong relationships with locals, expats, aid organisations and social enterprises all around the region.
They have taken road bikes to where road bikes should not be taken, and have encountered smouldering Mt Agung – a ticking time bomb 75 kilometres north-east of Kuta that has been spewing smoke on and off for the past six months. A more calming highlight was the Nyepi religious festival in March, with a big parade followed by a day for quiet reflection which includes not using any lights or electronics all day – the entire internet across Bali was even turned off for the first time!
In early April Brad and Nick set off on another travelling stint of their community consultation tour again to deploy their first three Wellsons at meaningful homes. Through their excellent work building relationships, Brad and Nick were able to leave the mobile phone charging stations with three different organisations who will move the kits around to villages and community hubs that have need for them and keep in touch with Brad and Nick. It’s a great way for the guys to an ear to the ground and gather the data they need to ensure the future success of the PowerWells mission.
As to where the Wellsons are currently housed – our guys left Wellson # 4 with the East Bali Poverty Project, an organisation that has been supporting the region for the past 20 years building roads, medical centres, and schools. The Wellson is currently providing light and a phone charging facility in the workshop of their social enterprise East Bali Bamboo Bikes. Once the still predicted Agung eruption occurs, it will be deployed at the evacuation camp built by the East Bali Poverty Project, and then be moved around the province wherever it is needed.
Wellson # 3 went to the NGO IKAN KECIL Foodbank and Community Centre which provides food and other supplies such as dust masks to some of the unofficial evacuation camps that have sprung up around Mt Agung. They are currently focusing on some community building projects in the area and preparing for the volcano’s eruption which is still predicted to happen in the near future.
Wellson # 2 was installed at the Green School’s innovation centre as a showcase for a sustainability event before it will be moved to a remote village in the area. Green School was founded in 2006 and focuses on sustainability, holistic education, recycling, and innovation. PowerWells have made some great friends here, and we look forward to seeing their plans for future partnerships come to fruition!
While travelling off the beaten track, the guys kept coming across may houses that ran extension cables up to a kilometre long from houses with electricity to charge phones, torches, and run lights. Seeing this was great validation – while these houses do not need their power generation kits, it showed them how the houses with electricity act as hubs where the surrounding community congregates. Brad and Nick gained a lot of valuable knowledge about the needs of remote villages from the people and organisations they met along the way.
It was time to expand their community consultation tour eastwards – island-hopping from Lombok to Sumbawa, Flores, and Sumba!
Brad and Nick were lucky enough to catch a ride on the Rainbow Warrior from Bima – Greenpeace International’s massive ship that assists in their various missions around the world’s oceans – and Nick somehow managed to find the time to feature on the Smart City Podcast talking about how to address inequality in remote communities.