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This Weekend: How to Renew Everything Under the Sun

The MREW conference will teach gardeners how to attract pollinators, among other sustainable practices. (Nic McPhee/Flickr)
The MREW conference will teach gardeners how to attract pollinators, among other sustainable practices. (Nic McPhee/Flickr)
September 8, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The oldest renewable-energy fair in the country makes its Minnesota debut this weekend. The Wisconsin-based Midwest Renewable Energy Association will have music, food and local beer during three days of workshops and seminars featuring ways to think and act more sustainably.

MREA's executive director, Nick Hila, says the group decided to come west because new state laws on solar energy have made Minnesota a leader.

"Legislation is only as good as its implementation, and so, we really are interested in engaging the public and helping them understand the potential for them to take steps towards energy efficiency," he explains.

The Energy Fair is at Harriet Island Park, with information about everything from backyard composting and edible mushrooms, to buying electric cars - used - and building furniture from tree branches. It's open to the public on Saturday from 9 A.M. to 11 P.M., and Sunday from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Most events are free.

Hylla says Friday is a "pre-fair" day for solar professionals to get training and information. Then over the weekend, more than 100 workshops are open to the public. Hylla says the fair is aimed at three key audiences.

"First, those that are interested in exploring solar energy," he says. "We're also hoping to attract people looking to get into the solar workforce. Solar now employs nearly twice as many people as the entire fossil fuel industry. And the third is policymakers and community activists."

Ramy Selim, executive director of Sunny Day Earth Solutions, is one of more than 60 exhibitors at The Energy Fair. He's offering seven workshops over the weekend, including how to make your own paints and finishes and how to build a tiny house.

"There's pieces in every part of your daily life that can be changed, and a lot of times very simply," he says. "You know, cleaning products - that's a huge one."

Selim says he also asks people to think about carbon when they go shopping. He tells them about new websites that rate everything from beer to movies on how sustainable they were produced.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN