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Middlebury energy committee to host free seminar on June 30

MIDDLEBURY — Don Mayer, David Sellers and Jito Coleman will offer a panel discussion titled “The Roots of Renewable Energy in Vermont: North Wind Power” on Tuesday, June 28, at 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the Ilsley Library in Middlebury. The three will share stories about the beginnings of North Wind Power in Warren in the early 1970s.
This is the first of five programs organized in conjunction with the Vermont Folklife Center exhibit “Portraits in Action: Pioneers in Renewable Energy, Environmental Conservation, and Land Use Planning.” The gallery at the folklife center on Main Street in Middlebury will have extended hours from 5 to 5:45 p.m. on June 28 in advance of this program.
The renewable energy movement in the United States was born of the social and political ferment of the late 1960s, and Vermont played a leadership role from the very beginning. Mayer, Sellers and Coleman will reflect on their roles in the emergence of this movement and share their perspectives on the energy challenges facing us today.
Don Mayer was an anti-war activist who opposed the draft and participated in the creation of People’s Park in San Francisco. Arriving at Goddard College in the early 1970s Mayer enrolled in a course taught by Warren architect David Sellers, for which he built a methane generator. At this time Sellers was developing his innovative design-build approach to architecture on Prickly Mountain in Warren.
Motivated initially by a personal commitment to self-sufficiency, Mayer teamed up with Sellers to salvage and recondition historic wind turbines from farms in the Great Plains. This enterprise eventually evolved into the wind turbine manufacturer North Wind Power, which engineer Jito Coleman joined to oversee research and development. Coleman had previously lived and worked on a Wisconsin commune inspired by the ideas of R. Buckminster Fuller.
Today, Vermont wind turbine manufacturer Northern Power carries on the legacy of North Wind Power. Mayer is the CEO of Small Dog Electronics, Sellers is the principal of Sellers and Company Architects, and Jito Coleman works as a renewable energy engineer on projects worldwide.
The exhibition “Portraits in Action” will be on display through Aug. 6. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the exhibit and program series, visit the folklife center website at www.vermontfolklifecenter.org or call (802) 388-4964.

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