Q&A with "A Towering Task" Director Alana DeJoseph see more
After a 72 hour screening window to watch the Peace Corps documentary "A Towering Task", RPCVCO President Charlie Hunt and Past President Suzanne Smith moderated a Q&A with Alana on Sunday April 11th. You can view the interview along with our other videos at our RPCVCO YouTube channel at your leisure by clicking here.
PC 60th Anniversary proclamation read at Denver City Council March 30th meeting. see more
On March 30th Denver City Councilman Chris Hinds read a proclamation celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and the Peace Corps' connection to Denver. You can see the proclamation being read here. At the bottom of the screen, scroll down and click on "proclamation honoring the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps" to jump directly to the location in the video to see the proclamation.
RPCVCO is pleased to announce an online interview with Peace Director Jody Olsen see more
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Colorado is pleased to announce an online interview
with Peace Corps Director Dr. Jody Olsen at 6:00 PM on November 5th.
Dr. Olsen began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in Tunisia from 1966-1968. She has since served the agency in multiple leadership positions—as Acting Director in 2009; Deputy Director from 2002-2009; Chief of Staff from 1989-1992; Regional Director, North Africa, Near East, Asia, Pacific from 1981- 1984; and Country Director in Togo from 1979-1981. Dr. Olsen is serving in a challenging time where decisions about Peace Corps Volunteer in the time of COVID are at the forefront of the agency. We expect that this and other topics will be discussed during the interview.
Dr. Olsen will be interviewed by two our noteworthy members. Jeannie Ritter RPCV Tunisia, is a past First Lady of Colorado and works for Mental Health Center of Denver. She will be accompanied by Suzanne Smith RPCV Mongolia, is the current past president of RPCVCO and currently serves on the board as advocacy chair.
Because there is limited seating for this zoom event, this is currently being offered only to members. If you’d like to attend, please go to https://www.rpcvcolorado.org/events/an-interview-with-pc-director-dr-jody-olsen to get a free ticket. We will do follow up emails to those who are expired members with more details on renewing your membership; if you are financially stressed due to the COVID economy we offer you a free Welcome Membership. We will also be in contact with you if you have never been a member but in our contact list as on how to take a First-Year Free membership.
We are also compiling questions from our member for the interview. What would you like to know from Dr. Olsen? You can enter questions in our clicking here.
Look forward to seeing you virtual on the 5th.
RPCV Byron Kominek was the focus of a story on National Public Radio for his AgriVoltaic Farm see more
When Byron Kominek returned home after the Peace Corps and later working as a diplomat in Africa, his family's 24-acre farm near Boulder, Colo., was struggling to turn a profit.
"Our farm has mainly been hay producing for fifty years," Kominek said, on a recent chilly morning, the sun illuminating a dusting of snow on the foothills to his West. "This is a big change on one of our three pastures."
That big change is certainly an eye opener: 3,200 solar panels mounted on posts eight feet high above what used to be an alfalfa field on this patch of rolling farmland at the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains.
Getting to this point, a community solar garden that sells 1.2 megawatts of power back into the local grid, wasn't easy, even in a progressive county like his that wanted to expand renewable energy. When Kominek approached Boulder County regulators about putting up solar panels, they initially told him no, his land was designated as historic farmland.
"They said, land's for farming, so go farm it," Kominek says. "I said, well, we weren't making any money, you all want to be 100% renewable at some point so how about we work together and sort this out."
They eventually did, with help from researchers at nearby Colorado State University and the National Renewable Energy Lab, which had been studying how to turn all that otherwise unused land beneath solar panels into a place to grow food.
With close to two billion dollars devoted to renewable power in the newly passed infrastructure bill, the solar industry is poised for a win. But there have long been some tensions between renewable developers and some farmers. According to NREL, upwards of two million acres of American farmland could be converted to solar in the next decade.
But what if it didn't have to be an either or proposition? What if solar panels and farming could literally co-exist, if not even help one another.
That was what piqued Kominek's interest, especially with so many family farms barely hanging on in a world of corporate consolidation and so many older farmers nearing retirement.
For about 50 years, Byron Kominek's family grew alfalfa and raised some cows on their farm near Boulder, Colo.
Last year, Boulder County updated its land use code. And soon after Kominek installed the solar panels on one of this pastures. They're spaced far enough apart from one another so he could drive his tractor between them.
Still, when it came time to plant earlier this year, Kominek was initially skeptical.
But he soon discovered that the shade from the towering panels above the soil actually helped the plants thrive. That intermittent shade also meant a lot less evaporation of coveted irrigation water. And in turn the evaporation actually helped keep the sun-baked solar panels cooler, making them more efficient.
By summer, Kominek was a believer.
Walking the intricately lined rows of veggies beneath the panels, he beams pointing out where the peppers, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, lettuces, beets, turnips, carrots were all recently harvested. The farm is still bursting with chard and kale even in November.
"Oh yeah, kale never dies," Kominek says, chuckling.
Kominek's farm, rebranded as Jack's Solar Garden (Jack is his grandfather's name), is part of a burgeoning industry known as agrivoltaics. It's a relatively new field of research and Kominek's farm is one of only about a dozen in the United States known to be experimenting with it.
But agrivoltaics is drawing particular interest in the West, now in the grips of a 22 year megadrought.
"Around the western US, water is the reason to go to war," says Greg Barron-Gafford, a University of Arizona professor who is considered one of the country's foremost experts in the field.
"Water is the reason we have to have real big arguments about where we're going to get our food from in the future," he says.
Barron-Gafford's research in the Arizona desert showed some crops grown underneath solar panels needed 50% less water. He and other scientists have their eyes on the infrastructure bill and are pushing to get some of the estimated $300 million included in it for new solar projects to go toward agrivoltaics.
"If you really want to build infrastructure in a way that is not going to compete with food and could actually take advantage of our dwindling resources in terms of water in a really efficient way, this is something to look at," Barron-Gafford says.
Researchers say there needs to be financial incentives for family farmers to add solar to their portfolio, if solar gardens like Byron Kominek's are really going to take off and become mainstream.
In Kominek's case, he literally bet the farm in order to finance the roughly $2 million solar arrays.
"We had to put up our farm as collateral as well as the solar array as collateral to the bank," he says. "If this doesn't work, we lose the farm."
But farming is all about taking on risk and debt, he says. And early on anyway, it's looking like his bet could pay off.
"That humming [you hear] is the inverters making us money," he says, pointing toward an electric converter box mounted near a row of kale. A series of wires carry the power out to the county highway and onto the local Xcel Energy grid.
The inverters here generate enough power for 300 homes to use in a year. Kominek hopes to soon grow enough food beneath the panels to maybe feed as many local families.
See Governor Jared Polis tribute to Peace Corps 60th Birthday see more
Colorado Governor Jared Polis paid tribute to Peace Corps 60th Birthday and the RPCVs who serve our community after their service. You can view the video on RPCV of Colorado YouTube Channel.
Special thanks to RPCV Kit Taintor for helping to make this happen.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Colorado posted an articleOur own Alana DeJoseph interviewed on Colorado Matters see more
On March 1st Alana DeJoseph was interviewed by Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters radio show. The focus of the interview was Peace Corps turning 60 years old. Alana DeJoseph of Denver was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali from 1992 to 1994. She is also known for directing the documentary about the Corps called “A Towering Task."
To listen to the interview click here.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Colorado posted an articleDid you miss the Jody Olsen interview? You can now view it on the RPCVCO YouTube Channel see more
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Colorado new YouTube Channel
RPCV of Colorado has started a YouTube Channel to make it possible for the RPCV community to view recorded events.
Our first video is of Peace Corps Director Dr. Olsen on November 5, 2020. Jody began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in Tunisia from 1966-1968. She has since served the agency in multiple leadership positions—as Acting Director in 2009; Deputy Director from 2002-2009; Chief of Staff from 1989-1992; Regional Director, North Africa, Near East, Asia, Pacific from 1981- 1984; and Country Director in Togo from 1979-1981. Dr. Olsen is serving in a challenging time where decisions about Peace Corps Volunteer in the time of COVID are at the forefront of the agency. We expect that this and other topics will be discussed during the interview. Jody also brought along Andrew Wilson, PC Third Goal Director.
Dr. Olsen was interviewed by two of our noteworthy members. Jeannie Ritter RPCV Tunisia, is a past First Lady of Colorado and works for Mental Health Center of Denver. She will be accompanied by Suzanne Smith RPCV Mongolia, is the current past president of RPCVCO and currently serves on our board as advocacy chair.
You can view this video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeeBoaHe2eE