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Kathleen Beck and Jeanette Hartman
(Brian Kramer)

March 8, 2009 (Julian) — Julian residents and environmentalists are embarking on an ambitious plan to make this historic mountain town energy-self-sufficient using renewable resources. Starting with a wind demonstration project at the library, the plan calls for 200 homes in Julian to become self-sustaining through wind and solar energy.

"The more that Julian becomes renewable energy self-sufficient, the more control its residents and businesses will have over the supply and price of the energy they need to survive," says environmental designer Jim Bell. Ultimately, Julian could also create a positive cash flow to boost its economy by producing its own clean, green energy, program proponents believe.

On March 21st at 1 p.m., Bell and others will present "Sustainable Julian" in the Julian Library, 1850 Highway 78 in Julian. In addition to promoting sustainable energy, the program will also teach the potential for Julian to become water and food self-sufficient as well. Admission to the event is free.
Julian resident Jeanette Hartman, who holds degrees in biology and geography, will discuss plans to start a center for responsible energy in Julian under a nonprofit, From the Ground Up, now being formed.

"Our first project will be a demonstration project at the library, where we will demonstrate various types of responsible energy systems, meaning environmentally and socially responsible," Hartman said, citing solar and wind as examples. "If you break down what Sempra is trying to do with major national energy corridors, they are not socially responsible," said Hartman, who opposes Sempra's proposed Sunrise Powerlink high voltage-transmission lines.

"As part of this library program, our aim is to get 200 homes self-sustaining, meaning they are not tied into the power grid, because if you are tied into the grid you are vulnerable to the utilities," Hartman explained. "We don't want to be vulnerable to them anymore. They are threatening to turn our power off during high winds, because they don't want to be responsible for fires caused by downed power lines. They've proven themselves to be irresponsible."

The Sustainable Julian event was the brainchild of Kathleen Beck, a Wynola resident who organized People's Powerlink, the first grassroots organization formed to halt Sempra's Powerlink project. She later obtained a master's degree in humane education and wrote a thesis titled Building Human Activism. "So many people know we have to stop global warming, but they think the only answer is these huge corporate-sponsored alternative energy projects," Beck observed. "Some of us are now saying that with a bigger-is-better philosophy, you get a lot of problems." Instead of massive wind farms or solar farms, Beck and others are proposing a different solution.

"Energy generated close to its source--that's been my motto all along," said Beck, who encourages people to take power into their own hands by attending community meetings and creating local solutions to meet energy needs such as harnessing wind energy in Julian, solar in Anza-Borrego, and geothermal from the Salton Sea to help nearby communities meet power needs.

"If every community investigated what they could do and took responsibility, I think we'd find we don't need these huge transmission lines," she concluded.

Beck will also instruct area residents on how to create "victory boxes" -- gardens to help Julian become sustainable in food as well as energy production.

For more information on sustainability, visit All materials are free to download and read, including two of Bell's books and a video.

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