Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Earth Day celebration set for May 12


This year’s Earth Day celebration from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 12, at the Haines School has a theme of food security.

“People are becoming increasingly concerned about the cost of shipping food, the quality of food that you can get when it’s shipped, and how and why it’s important to grow and/or find as much of our own as we can,” said Melissa Aronson, chair of Haines Friends of Recycling.

HFR, Chilkoot Indian Association and an Earth Day ad hoc planning committee are coordinating the free event that will run along with a farmers market plant sale at the school. The worldwide Earth Day was April 22.

“We move it to the second Saturday in May here, because that ties in nicely with the farmers‘ market and with the sale of plant starts, because that’s the time to start putting them in the ground,” Aronson said.

Among the activities scheduled for May 12 are tours of a school composting project; displays on recycling and renewable energy scholarships, gardening, and living with bears; and presentations on fishery research on the Chilkoot River, greenhouses, hydropower, the Ts’ats’ee Bird Observatory and bird banding, and setting up a Haines seed bank.

“More and more people are getting really interested in gardening, for many reasons, including just growing your own, healthy food; because it’s great exercise; because it sort of ties you to the natural cycles of earth,” Aronson said.

Attendees also can learn about citizen involvement, an electric bike, Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority energy conservation and efficiency education, and the history of Chilkat Valley agriculture, she said. One activity for children is learning about food from beaches and oceans, such as seaweed popcorn.

“To me, what’s most fascinating about Earth Day and about a lot of these different kinds of things is how much talent there is in this town,” Aronson said.

Resident George Figdor will display his electric car, a 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit, at the event. He bought the beige hatchback about three years ago from Seattle, valued at less than $1,000, with plans to convert it to electric.

“First, I had to tear out all the internal combustion parts – the engine, the fuel system, the exhaust system, the cooling system, everything – and then I started putting things back in,” Figdor said. “It’s got a nine-inch electric motor, and then all the electrical parts and all the wiring, and 18, six-volt batteries, so it runs off of 108 volts.”

Figdor said he worked on the project “in spurts” and used a kit, with most of the local help coming from Bud Barber and Fred Einspruch. Figdor debuted the car last week by driving it around town.

“When you turn the key, nothing happens, because there’s no gasoline engine to start,” he said. “It’s kind of a dead sound, and then you put your foot on the gas (pedal), and it goes.”

Figdor said he hopes to get about 40 miles out of the car between charges, depending on terrain. The project required “a fair amount of money,” he said, and he has not yet calculated the payback from not filling up the tank with gasoline. Figdor noted the lead-acid batteries are expensive and heavy.

“There were a lot of frustrating parts,” he said. “It’s the engineering and getting everything to fit in there, and one of the big problems is marking all the wires and things that you disconnect when you’re disassembling the old car, so you remember where you need to hook all the new things up to.”

For more information, call Aronson at 766-2185.


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