what is “smart” electric car charging?

There’s a steep learning curve on electric cars, because our brains have been molded for generations to think of mobility with gasoline engines. But once you switch your mode of thinking, it’s not too hard.

“How long does it take to charge?”

The answer is always… it depends. You don’t regularly drive your electric car around until it’s “empty” then try to hurry through a fueling station, like we’re all trained to do.

Another answer is a question: “How long does it take to charge your cell phone?”

How many watts does this cord pull? I have no clue. It just works.

I don’t know the charging rate of my phone, because I just charge it overnight and it’s full in the morning. Same with cars. Each garage with an outlet has a mini “gas station” that slowly fills the “tank” up while we sleep.

Or maybe it’s an army of helpful little electric gnomes. I haven’t checked.

I remember getting in my car one morning and seeing that it had gained 20 miles of range over night. What? Gained? That doesn’t make any sense! I’ve been driving for almost 20 years… you just go until you’re almost out then you have to go to the gas station. Cars don’t magically add range while you sleep! But my mind finally flipped, and I realized I can skip the gas station routine altogether if I spend 5 seconds plugging it in every day.

The reality is that if you have a garage with an outlet, you’ll probably never need a public charger unless it’s a couple counties or more from your home. That’s why the comparisons with gas stations don’t make much sense.

Anyway, the “real” answer is that there are various levels/speed of charging… and that there are two types of cars with plugs (full electric and gas/electric hybrids)… I already gave my too looooong explainer here, after my 1st year of driving.

But let me get to the main point.

The main point.

In researching for our first grant-funded public charging station (thanks Marshall Co Community Foundation!), we determined the most affordable option was to use existing underground conduit that ran to the electrical panel. Ironically, it was first laid to run a pump used to clean a leaky underground gasoline storage tank. One more reason to go electric!

The conduit diameter predetermined that maximum size wire we could safely pull through, 6 gauge. This size uses a 60 amp breaker. The rule for continuous loads is 80% of the breaker size, so we can only run 48 amps continuously through this line.

The JuiceBox Pro 40 by eMotorwerks had just what we needed. They are WiFi-connected, which allows me to control the units from an online dashboard, view charging history, set maximum amperage and charging times, etc. Now I can also download data and use it for educational purposes

But the best feature was pairing the two 40 amp units on a single line. 40+40 = 80, which exceeds the 48 amp maximum for the wire. I set a rule such that each unit could individually go up to 40 amps, but they could never exceed a combined 48 amps if two cars were plugged in at the same time (they’d drop to 24+24, or 15+33, etc). This eliminated the need to run an additional wire/trench, while maximizing charging speed at the stations.

Getting busy.

It’s not often we have two cars charging at the exact same time, but I noticed that there were on Dec. 21.

The image below is the charging profile of the Honda Clarity. The time is on the X-axis, and the energy and power are on the Y-axis. Focus on the orange line, which is power (the charging speed).

It is plugged in at 8:03 AM and ramps up to it’s maximum charging speed of 6 kW (29 amps).

At 9:10 AM, a Ford C-Max is plugged in. The C-Max is an older model and can’t draw as many amps as the new Clarity. It ramps up and peaks at 14 amps. Remember… we have a 48 amp maximum. Ok, technically I had set the limit at 40 amp maximum because I was nervous (without reason)! So 40 – 14 = 26 amps remaining available for the Honda. Sure enough, if you look at the first green arrow, the charging rate drops a bit, from 6 kW (29 amps) to 5 kW (26 amps).

It continues like this until 9:31 AM. At this point, the Honda is almost full. For reasons I’m not smart enough to explain (but you could Google), batteries have to “top off” their cells with decreasing speed. At the 2nd green arrow above, you can see the charging rate slowly drop over the last 15 minutes, then stop completely.

Meanwhile, the C-Max keeps humming along. The image below is the 2nd charger, used by the Ford C-Max. It charges at it’s maximum 3 kW (14 amps) until it is unplugged at 9:47 AM.

Ok, now that you see how these things can work… imagine the possibilities. Namely, we can change the vehicles’ charging rates and times based on our goals.

The price of electricity on the grid can change dramatically throughout the day (and you can watch it in real time here). We can program cars to charge so as to minimize cost. BMW already ran a pilot study. In fact, NIPSCO is planning to replace some of it’s coal capacity with “demand side management,” in which customers are paid to adjust their electrical demand.

There is also software available that watches the fuel composition of the grid and prioritizes charging when there are high amounts of renewable energy being produced (software is not yet available in Indiana).

Taken in one sitting, this can all sounds pretty overwhelming. But it’s an exciting time to watch the energy transition and figure out how to do it efficiently, affordably, and quickly.

do solar panels work in the winter?

Short answer: yes, during daylight hours of course!

Sunrise to sunset, faithfully.

So here’s the long answer…

Our solar arrays come with a internet-connected software that allows us to see minute-by-minute production, down to each individual panel. Yes, it’s a dream for a data-glutton like myself, especially on these cold, rainy days (yuck!).

But it quickly gets confusing. When I talk solar, most people ask me 1) “are you going off the grid?” and 2) “where’s the batteries?!” Neither of which we are currently interested in. But both have a lot to do with two important terms: energy & power.

Energy is the capacity to do work (exerting a force over a distance). Power is the instantaneous rate of producing or consuming energy.

A microwave will pull around 1 kilowatt (kW) of power. If you leave it on for an hour (which I don’t recommend), it will consume 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy. Ditto if you run two microwaves for half the time… it’s still 1 kilowatt-hour, and the utility will bill you $0.15.

When you think of your home, the power (electricity) is ultimately limited by the size of the transformer feeding your home. For homeowners, the utility charges for the energy you consume… that is, power over the course of time (a month).

Think of water in a bathtub as an analogy. Whether you fill it quickly or slowly (power), it still takes the same volume of water (energy) to get it full.

Nature stores potential energy (ability to do work) in it’s carbon bonds, powered via the slow process of photosynthesis.

So… solar panels are rated by their maximum power output. We installed 295-watt Solarworld panels. They are engineered to max out at 295-watts (power) here in Indiana just as they would in Texas. But over the course of Texas’ longer and sunnier days (sigh…), they will produce more energy down South.

Ok, did I over-explain that? Good. (No? Read more, or watch a video).

Just to complicate things further, our solar installation features single-axis tilting to maximum both power & energy (I posted the video in August). Our arrays always face south (azimuth of 180 degree), but we tilt them four times a year, between 12 degrees in summer and 45 degrees in winter.

Like this (ignore their angle values):

So… do they produce in the winter?

Yes, solar panels are actually more efficient at cooler temperatures.

So when it comes to maximum power, there are some great cool and sunny winter days.

This photo above is from December 30, when the temperature was just above freezing. Power peaked at 12:30 pm at 64,200 W, which was higher than at any point registered in July or August. (The record output so far was 66,825 W on October 16th).

It was sunny all day on Dec. 30, so the power profile shows a steady rise to midday, a plateau, then a slow decline as the sun set.

The total energy produced that day was 356 kWh, all between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM, a scant 9 hours. That was the most of any December day.

So even though the maximum power exceeded anything from July or August, the short days of December mean less energy is produced overall. December as a whole was about 45% that of July’s production. The average day in July produced 380 kWh. July 6th had 526 kWH produced between 6:30 AM and 8:30 PM, during the full 14 hours of daylight.

Two final notes on weather: clouds, and snow.

While energy production over the course of an entire year is very predictable, day to day variation in solar irradiation can be substantial.

Here’s a snapshot of the last day of the year (I’m writing as the sun sets). It’s December 31st, and you could barely tell the sun was up. Cold and drizzly rain all day long. The maximum power was 2,500 W, a scant 4% of the maximum from the day previous! Total energy production was 7 kWh.

Because we have net metering, and aren’t concerned about going off-grid, this doesn’t concern us in the slightest, aside from the crummy feelings many of us experience on these gloomy days!

Intermittency is a reality for grid operators managing renewable energy resources. But grid resilience is an emergent function of the whole, not merely a sum of its parts. Suffice it to say that grid dynamics can be a little counter-intuitive, and adding in new energy sources is more than doable with the tools we have available. It’s an exciting time! (Well, if you’re a nerd).

Ok, snow time. This is a photo of the 24-panel Moontree Studios array on November 27.

Below is a snapshot of the energy production of these same panels on Nov. 27-28. Each panel is labeled with its energy production in Watt-hours. Switch back and forth between the photos… Notice that snow clinging to any particular panels does reduce production for that panel.

But generally, we don’t worry much about snow. It comes during the few months where production is already lower. The racks are tilted up at 45 degrees, so that keeps it from accumulating (to a point). The panels are dark and made of glass, so it gives a chance for snow to melt and slide off. An energetic homeowner could even take a soft broom and carefully brush the snow off in a matter of a couple minutes. I know someone who does this in Mishawaka, just as they shovel snow from their small stretch of sidewalk.

Ok… all that, and we didn’t get into DC/AC conversions, inverter sizing and efficiency, and so on. More to come. So far, so good…

a savvy Sedum

Wild Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) is Indiana’s only native Sedum. Succulents like Sedum have thickened, fleshy leaves that allow it to survive dry, harsh conditions. There are about 600 species in the genus. Some were/are used as herbs by indigenous Americans. Architects often use them in green roof design for their ability to survive the extreme microclimate on a roof.

I planted this Wild Stonecrop underneath a silver maple tree after receiving a start from a plant conference.

An American Robin used a live branch to accent its nest (just a few meters from the original plant). This photo is from Dec. 7, 2018. The leaves had not wilted by then… I assume it has rooted and looks like it will over-winter as a live plant within the nest.

There are other non-native Sedums you can plant outside, but native plant species are better adapted to our ecosystem. Their complex relationships provide more ecological function. And clearly, the plants will spread, one way or another. Why mess with millions of years of success?

To quote Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”

It’s going to be a great year.

news round-up

Very little commentary to add here… just thought I would drop some links and let the reader peek over my shoulder and see what I’ve been reading. So here’s the news round-up… ecology edition.

How America Uses Its Land

Maps, maps… Stunning maps!

The Insect Apocalypse is Here

Don’t know what to say other than… depressing. I touched on this in October. Regardless, we cannot shy away from what science reveals and what morality compels.

I’ll post a related photo here, from my garage last weekend (box cutter & 2-by-4 for scale), and see if you can guess what’s going on:

Reading the Landscape – a poem by Steve Glass, restoration ecologist

Beautiful, painful, poignant. Give this one some space.

Sparing vs Sharing: The Great Debate Over How to Protect Nature

Following the theme of the previous links… this is a big and complicated question.

Musk. Echolocation. Venom. Spread The News About Shrews!

Ok, just a little commentary on that last one… I did some reading in my favorite mammal guidebook. Shrews are more closely related to moles than either mice or voles. We have 6 species in Indiana, and 3 in Northern Indiana where we are: the Masked Shrew, the Northern Short-Tailed Shrew, and the Least Shrew. I’ve caught a few in my mousetraps in my backyard shed (not sure which species). They appear to be pretty abundant.

Did you also know… we have flying squirrels in Northern Indiana, and armadillos in Southern Indiana? Crazy.

Integral Ecology comes to TCAD

“We are faced not with two separate crises: one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” -Pope Francis (Laudato Si’, para. 139).

A team from TCAD had been invited this summer to visit the Maryknoll Sisters in California. A network called Pando Populus invited several religious communities together to dream up ways they could build an ecological civilization, one that takes seriously Pope Francis’ call for an “ecological conversion” in Laudato Si’ (para. 216).

Earlier this month, co-workers gathered to listen to a new vision for The Center at Donaldson (TCAD).

What is integral ecology? Jessica Ludescher Imanak summarizes it well:

Pope Francis reframes sustainability in terms of the concept of integral ecology. Sustainability in Laudato Si’ encompassess development and resource use, but it also expands to includes integral human development as well. The framework of integral ecology invites us to ‘integrate’ various dimensions ‘into a broader vision of reality’ (LS 138). Integral ecology includes multiple ecologies: environmental, economic, social, cultural, and daily life (human ecology). It also incorporates the Catholic Social Teaching (CST) principle of the common good and a notion of intergenerational justice.

We’ll be coming back again to the emphasis via training, reflections, and ministry practices.

It’s fun to plumb the depths of what integral ecology means, and what the focus can offer the world… but it’s also easy to let it get too complicated. What are some ways we can live into this focus?

I invited Sr. Joetta Huelsmann, PHJC, to share what the vision means to the PHJC community. She writes:

All Thing Are Connected

In Pope Francis’ introduction to Laudato Si, he states:  “St. Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.”

We at the Center of Donaldson take those words seriously as we work toward a common vision to care for the earth and the people of the earth. In doing so, generations after us then will have an earth to enjoy.

Our goal is to work together to heal the earth and to educate others to do the same so that we can transform the future.

We are already practicing Integral Ecology as we work together for social and environmental change by:

-Using environmentally friendly cleaning products

-Recycling

-Installing solar panels

-Assisting the poor and marginalized

-Establishing green houses to eat healthier and locally grown foods

These are only a few examples. But, still so much more needs to be done to be kind to our planet and to those who live on it. So, we have made a commitment to collaborate with others so that all will have the resources that they need to live an integrated life on this earth. Are we up to this challenge? What first step can you take to continue to care for our earth and the people that inhabit it?

… … …

I’ll end this with a picture of a beautiful little girl staring out over a frozen Lake Galbraith (because I can!), contemplating the breadth of the 21st century, this blue-green world turning and spinning through the solar system…

a walk in the north woods

The other week I made a field visit with my Ancilla College intern, Trace, who has been in the Earn to Learn program. The students have been helpful to our various ministries, in addition to simply being a pleasure to be around.

You might remember me talking about the north woods in a post last winter in which I stumbled upon an invincible mosquito.

We hopped in the UTV, rode north, then set off on foot along a ditch.

The visit to the north woods was a good chance to demonstrate how we “read the landscape.” What’s different this time? Is a tree down? New tracks in the snow? How is the corn yielding and why? What are those purple splotches on the ground? Each visit is an opportunity to solve one mystery and discover open several more.

A hint of purple… pokeweed’s palette drip onto the snow.

 

There was a gathering of some sorts, and some scratching through the snow to get at the soil.

As we continued, we came across some obvious wild turkey tracks. Marshall County (at least the western half) has great habitat for this versatile omnivore… a healthy mixture of fields, pastures, forests, and water. We rank among the top counties in the state for wild turkey harvests during hunting season.

The Indiana DNR says of the wild turkey:

Insects provide high energy food for fast-growing poult, but the backbone of turkey’s diet consists of wild fruits, acorns, green leaves, seeds, and domestic grains. Those of our eastern woodland feed on sumac, wild grapes, dogwood berries, beechnuts, acorns, greenbrier, roots and tubers. Water is taken freely and grit consumed to grind harder foods…

A combination of uncontrolled hunting and nearly absolute destruction of timber completely wiped out turkeys in Indiana and other Midwestern states. As late as 1945, it appeared that they might be a vanishing species in the United States. As marginal farmland returned to timber and conservation practices were applied to our plundered land, the state was set for turkey revival.

Well-regulated hunting has helped ensure that populations remain healthy and viable into the future.

We continued along the drainage to the main woods and zig-zagged around, looking for tracks, examining the trees, looking for anything out of place.

I was sure to take a moment and allow us both to just sit in the silence a bit. It’s what a woods is for, most of all.

The long winter’s nap.

This summer, we were visited by a university professor who was scoping out our land for a potential Bioblitz in 2019. A Bioblitz is “an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours). There is a public component to many BioBlitzes, with the goal of getting the public interested in biodiversity” (Wiki).

No promises yet… but we are hopeful this will work out. This prof was totally geeking out about the woods we had, as well as the wetlands, pastures, and prairie across our the breadth of the property. My mind started spinning about all the connections we could make with the public… and all the species lists I’d have! We have never really completed a full inventory of all the biota here… it would be an amazing experience.

As Trace and I headed back toward the heart of campus, we saw a trio of Sandhill Cranes pass overhead. That was a mated pair with a young who was raised on our property. We followed them to the pasture where they were foraging. They are in the center of the photo below… their dirty gray color makes for good camouflage.

I’ll close with one of my favorite poems, “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry (collected in this volume with other poems). I recommend it be experienced as read by the author (click here), and given the proper space and attention to meditate on… but otherwise, here’s the text:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

thankful

Sorry folks, it’s been 3 weeks. I’ve been pretty busy, and honestly pretty tired and worn as we head into the dormant season (ecologically-speaking). My soul needs a winter’s rest I think.

a vernal pool just off the main PHJC campus enters its long slumber, waiting for spring warm and rain, when it will come alive again with salamanders and ducks

Lately I’ve been relying on the strength of others to pull me along. I was grateful to hear in church the other week someone say that you don’t need to feel that you can always pray, or sing, or even believe. The Church can continue to pray or sing or believe around and for you, it is still there for you as a presence, even if you aren’t sure about anything. That is what community is for.

After a rough morning, a friend unexpectedly took a few minutes to make a simple bookmark for me, with a word of encouragement. I was reminded of what a special community we have and continue to build:

As long as we have breath, we can find something to be thankful for. As long as we wake up in the morning, we have a day before us. Pictured here are two reasons, for me, to be thankful:

community in the stillness

 

I’ve been to a couple funerals this year, memorials that came too early. I heard testimonies of community members struggling with being separated from their parents across borders, brothers and sisters dealing with a family member’s drug addiction, working mothers living in cars with their families.

Now, I’ll admit – it’s always rubbed me a little the wrong way when folks are encouraged to think about other people’s problems and use it as a benchmark for all they should be thankful for… and then proceed to just sit in a warm home with a full belly and simply “feel grateful.”

Well, just as long as we don’t stay there. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). I have often wondered how much of our (my) charity is done “to be seen by men” (Matt. 6:1), which in reality actively prevents us from asking the very hard questions that justice demands.

But before I get on that tangent… I just want to say that I’m grateful for all you out there in internet land, and for this tiny blue orb that continues it’s wild swinging and tilting and pulsing.

a wetland boardwalk near Sturgis, MI

 

scary news

It’s Halloween, so I suppose the timing is right for scary news.

The latest U.N. report:

The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.

Some time ago we learned about a disturbing study out of Germany that observed massive insect losses even in well-protected natural areas:

Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45 percent. In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves.

Lastly, a report just came out that documented the destruction of over 1/2 of the world’s vertebrates in my lifetime:

The populations of Earth’s wild mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and other vertebrates declined by more than half between 1970 and 2012, according to a report from environmental charity WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Activities such as deforestation, poaching and human-induced climate change are in large part to blame for the decline. If the trend continues, then by 2020 the world will have lost two-thirds of its vertebrate biodiversity, according to the Living Planet Report 2016. “There is no sign yet that this rate will decrease,” the report says.

“Across land, freshwater and the oceans, human activities are forcing species populations and natural systems to the edge,” says Marco Lambertini, director-general of WWF International.

Source: Living Planet Report 2016

The main threat facing declining populations is habitat loss — caused by logging, agriculture and the disruption of freshwater systems such as rivers. Freshwater populations, which declined by 81%, are increasingly thought to be faring worse than those living in terrestrial regions.

I want to tell you the tide is turning, that we’re on the right track, etc. But in fact just looking at the data we are lacking the urgency requisite to address the challenges of this scale and speed.

From our businesses, our non-profits, our educational institutions, our religious communities, and elected officials… we’re failing. Inaction and incrementalism negate our responsibility to our children.

We often jump to happy talk and self-congratulations too quickly. What was good 10 years ago is no longer sufficient. I think we’d all do well to just let these reports sit and sink in before thinking of our response.

LARE report on Lake Galbraith

Last week, Tom Estrem of Cardno, Inc. presented his report on Lake Galbraith, based on data we gathered in 2017.

The goal of the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) Program is to protect and enhance aquatic habitat for fish and wildlife, and to insure the continued viability of Indiana’s publicly accessible lakes and streams for multiple uses, including recreational opportunities. This is accomplished through measures that reduce non-point sediment and nutrient pollution of surface waters to a level that meets or surpasses state water quality standards. (I-DNR)

The report can be found online here. The Executive Summary is just a few pages long… if you only have a few minutes, that will give you an overview of what we did.

We are looking forward to using this data to improve the quality of our fresh water communities. Remember… you are about 60% water yourself… our health and that of the ecological community cannot be separated.

LEED-ing in Marshall County (guest post)

Here’s a guest post by our Moontree Studios Programs Coordinator, Matthew Celmer. Matthew joined our community earlier this year and has brought tons of new energy. He’s committed to the Mission of the Poor Handmaids and he’s also relentlessly positive. We are very glad to have him on as a leader at The Center at Donaldson!

It’s funny how we can become used to things that are part of our daily lives.  Even remarkable things can begin to feel ordinary if we are around them enough.  In my short time here at MoonTree and The Center, I often catch myself slipping into a familiarity with my surroundings that can tend towards an under-appreciation.

In my role at MoonTree, I have the benefit of showing first-time visitors around.  This interaction is a frequent reminder of the wonder and awe I experienced the first time I came here.  Seeing our world through the eyes of people witnessing the amazing accomplishments of the Poor Handmaids community is crucial in contemplating the theme of the 150th anniversary; Blessed Past, Vibrant Present, Empowered Future.

In September, The Center at Donaldson participated in the inaugural year of the Northcentral Indiana Branch of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) by hosting a tour of MoonTree Studios and an eco-walk (led by the capable administrator of this blog).  With over 20 attendees from all over Michiana, and one all the way from Louisville, it was a successful event that brought new people together centered around the theme of sustainable building practices.

Sr. Mary Baird discusses insulation… and so much more!

For those of you who may be unaware, the USGBC developed and oversees the LEED program which is a green building rating system.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  Their mission is, “to promote sustainability-focused practices in the building industry.”  It is through following their New Construction v2.2 certification process that MoonTree Studios was honored with their Gold Certification.  The first, and still only, building complex in Marshall County to do so.  (There is a LEED Gold Certified home in Culver as well, but the certification is different.)

Matthew leads the LEED tour.

This was a big deal in 2010 and still is eight years later.  Those who attended the tour reminded me not only how lucky we are to have these buildings, but how much further we still have to go as a community and as a wider society.  The tour guests were a diverse group of individuals with a diverse range of experience and skills, all brought together by the common desire to build better things.  In order to understand how to accomplish this, one has to research past, present, and potential future building practices and methods.  What we have here at The Center is a wealth of information that can serve that very purpose.

It was nice to see MoonTree and The Center through their eyes and listen to their questions, especially the ones that made me realize how little I know about this place.  What of our own wonders do we under-appreciate or even outright ignore?  What questions should we be asking?  What lessons should we be learning from our own blessed past and vibrant present in order that we can ensure an empowered future?

Discussing the ins and outs of Moontree Lodge. Things we like, things we might reconsider.

Our future will be empowered only to the extent that we live vibrantly in the present, by opening our eyes to the gifts and wonders around us as if we are seeing them for the first time, and act in accordance with the blessings of our past, by not taking for granted what has been bestowed upon us.  Community is about shared responsibility.  We are all responsible for what we do now and how that will impact our collective future.