blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


Midland School sets the stage for renewable energy, personal growth

By Christian Casillas - A blueEnergy team consisting of Mathias Craig, Lizzie Reisman, Andreas Karelas, and Christian Casillas just got back from blueEnergy’s first wind turbine building workshop hosted on US soil. The team spent two days at Mathias’ alma mater, the Midland School (, near Santa Barbara. It was part of a new blueEnergy strategy for raising revenue as well as enlarging blueEnergy’s impact.
Our workshop took up two days of the sophomore class’ yearly energy week, in which the students focus on hands on projects related to renewable energy. Two days is typically not enough time for the inexperienced to fully complete a wind turbine, but the students advanced much further than we expected! By the close of the second day, they had two of wooden blades almost completely carved, all the wire coils wound and soldered for the generator, had practiced magnet placement on the rotors, and built what may be one of the best looking tail vanes we’ve seen (a blue cow in a pasture of grass!). And more than that, the students and teachers continued to stay engaged with probing questions, demonstrating how quickly they were taking in all of the new information.

Placing the free-range tail vane on the new turbine
The workshop also gave us an inspiring glimpse into the life at this rustic little school, and some insight into blueEnergy co-founder Mathias’ early development. The meals in the dining hall were reminiscent of a large family, as students, teachers and visitors all rubbed elbows while enjoying the fresh food. On a nearby chalkboard was a list of the veggies from Midland’s nine acre garden, with asterisks next to those that were currently in production and finding their way into the menu. The steak we ate at an evening barbeque was one of Midland’s own grass-fed cows who wander freely on their 3,000 acre property. Every night before showering, the kids have to load up a boiler with firewood if they want hot water. There is no doubt that these kids are going to have a much deeper understanding and respect for where their energy and food comes from than most urbanites the world over. Upon our departure, the students were digging post holes for 3 kW of grid-tied solar that they would be installing over the next three days, adding to the schools existing 22 kW of installed solar.

A quarter of the staff live with their families in their own little houses on the campus. I saw herds of little ones, from who knows how many families, frolicking together on the soccer field or in the nearby woods every day. One parent, who’d been there 18 years, told me that she loved the integration with students – she never had a problem finding a babysitter, or playmates.

Herd of big ones
It seems clear that the western world could use many more Midlands. I’m skeptical about our near-term future and current adults’ willingness and ability to change. The needed transition to more sustainable means of food and energy generation in the US will most likely come from market signals (incorporating negative externalities like carbon dioxide emissions or aquifer depletion into prices), which isn’t going to happen unless law-making bodies pass regulations, which isn’t going to happen unless their constituencies demand it, which isn’t going to happen with the world view and values with which most people grow up. The truth is, we need Midlands in many more places where ‘family values’ and world views are passed on from generation to generation – kids are indoctrinated with their parents' views at an early age, when they should be out exploring their own truths.

Sophmore class with their new turbine
 Hopefully, this new endeavour of small wind turbine building workshops will allow blueEnergy to interface with other inspiring educational programs like Midland. But we also hope that we can find opportunities to hold workshops at the many underfunded and forgotten public schools, where a hand built renewable energy generator may capture the imagination of future generations, much more so than a wall socket.


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