Solar Power Woman!

Hey, my name is Cat. My buddy is Cisco, or /Francisco, Caballero de las Llanuras de la Costa del Golfo/. He’s a young English Springer Spaniel mix, a rescue that was picked up in a “dump zone” near Beaumont, TX. I’ve only had him a month. I wanted to give him a proper name to reflect his Spanish heritage, something like /Don Quixote de la Mancha/. (The Gulf Coast Plains is an ecoregion that includes Beaumont.)

Cisco the dog Cisco!

I own a smallish 900-sq. ft. house in south Louisiana, in the small, historic town of Grand Coteau. My interest in stewardship of the planet goes back decades. I’ve been a park ranger for the National Park Service, a systems engineer for IBM, performed in the Closing Ceremonies of the Athens 2004 Olympics. A life rich in experience, but not always rich financially. I’ve learned to be frugal.

In 2007, I had the good fortune to be selected to be trained by Al Gore to be a global warming presenter. Biggest surprise? He was funny! From that workshop, I met someone who told me about a two-week all women’s workshop with Solar Energy International learning photovoltaics (solar). “Wow!” I thought, “at last, I found my niche.” Leading the way, a life of sustainability. So, I formed a company, Cat Dancing Energy. Well, several years later, I’m regrouping. As someone in the industry told me, “The solar business is much more business than it is solar.” How true, running a business is far, far more work than I ever imagined...or wanted. 

Brad Pitt WorkshopWorking on the Brad Pitt solar project in New Orleans! 

And, as a “construction” type of industry, not so easy for a woman...unless you want to do sales, or work in the office. (Which I don’t esp. want to do.) Women in the field? Not so much. Nevertheless, I’ve had some good projects, installed a solar demo project for Brad Pitt in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, did an all Women’s install with Grid Alternatives in the SF Bay area, and a variety of other installs, site analysis, designs, energy consulting, taught solar workshops.

Along the way, I discovered Tumbleweed homes, visited Jay’s home the summer of 2011, and attended a Dallas, TX workshop that year with Dee Williams. The Tumbleweeds make a lot of sense to me, and fit in with the desire of a sustainable lifestyle.

At the back of my property is a small cottage, about 10 x 15 feet. It’s something I want to convert into a Tumbleweed. One thing I’ve learned this year, thanks to the 1%, is that working hard is not the way to (necessarily) make money. So, my hope is to convert my cottage into an adorable Tumbleweed with Tuscan styling, and use it as an investment, a little guest house.

cottageCottage to convert

My path then has a two prong approach: continue to try to find my niche in the solar/renewable energy world with the right company, and build a Tumbleweed home. Being a native of the northeast, I typically leave Louisiana during hot summers in search of cooler climates, more mountains, hiking opportunities, solar opportunities, etc. I don’t always have a clear plan of where I’ll go until summer is upon us. Watching “Field of Dreams” tonight, Cisco curled up into my lap. (At 40 lbs, he’s a sizable lap dog.) I asked him, “Where are we going this summer? Iowa?” He just wagged his tail and looked at me with sweet, brown eyes.

Written by Guest Blogger — February 01, 2013

Filed under: diy   education   guest blog   Lousiana   solar power   women builders  
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