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HSU's Sustainable Living Arts and Music Festival turns 10 this year

by Nathan Rushton
with permission from The Eureka Reporter
April 24, 2005

Trying to spread the message that people can live sustainably while having fun doing it was the theme for Humboldt State University’s 10th annual Sustainable Living Arts and Music Festival yesterday.

The event, held on the campus’s special events field, was organized and staffed by volunteers and completely powered by renewable energy that it generates from solar panels.

This year’s musical guests included the HSU calypso band, the Colorado-based bluegrass music of Victor Barnes and Garaj Mahal. Speakers from the Wiyot Table Bluff Reservation and the Green Party also gave presentations.

One of the staff volunteers providing security for the event was Robin Pagliuco, an HSU graduate and former organizer and manager of the event in 2001 and 2003.

Pagliuco said the festival has evolved from a “vendor-heavy” event that featured food, crafts and artists, to having a greater emphasis on information.

She said about 90 percent of the people who set up booths featured information about renewable energy resources and composting.

Renewable-energy demonstrations included hydrogen-fuel cell, electric and biodiesel vehicles and papermaking, as well as a juggling workshop for children.

Among the informational demonstrations at the festival was Humboldt Electric Vehicle Association, which had five electric vehicles displayed that were converted from gas-operated motors.

HEVA member Kevin Johnson’s electric-powered 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit was among those displayed with the other electric cars and small trucks.

The Eureka Reporter/Nathan Rushton
Kevin Johnson of the Humboldt Electric Vehicle Association displays at HSU’s 10th annual Sustainable Arts and Music Festival Saturday his electric-powered Volkswagen Rabbit, which can travel up to 50 miles between charges.

He said his vehicle can cruise along at 60 mph on the highway and can travel about up to 50 miles between charges.

With gas prices climbing locally to $3 a gallon, he said it costs about 15-25 cents per mile to operate a gas-powered car. The electric vehicle’s operating costs are 2.5-6 cents per mile to operate.

“Statistics show that most people drive between 20 and 25 miles per day,” Johnson said. “So these are perfect for an around-town commuter car.”

Johnson generates the power for his home from solar panels, which he also uses to recharge his car.

He said recharging the car’s battery on a standard 110 outlet is done overnight, but with a 220-voltage outlet, it takes only a few hours.

The typical costs to convert a car from a gas to an electric motor are between $4,000-$7,000, Johnson said.

He said he estimated that after seven years his electric car and home’s solar panels will have paid for themselves.