Saturday, November 19, 2011

Update: Going Green with the OakGreen Challange

Earlier this week I began blogging about the OakGreen Challenge.  This message was intended to introduce those of you who have not yet heard about this program and to educate you in what it is all about.  As many of you know that is the main mission behind the project.  Teaching... and then action steps.

What we discovered is that this is a really an energy usage challenge put forth by the Oakland County Executive L.Brooks Patterson.  He issued:

The "OakGreen Challenge" at the May 13, 2010 Green Summit Event. Registration for the Challenge officially opened at the May 2011 Green Summit.

The OakGreen Challenge encourages home, business and government facilities to decrease energy consumption by 10% within the next two years.

Challenge Reward:  Win the Oakgreen Challenge and have your utility bills paid for one year (up to $1500.)

I want to share a story with you that began back in Springfield Oaks County Park at the Oakland County Fair.  Our new start up company, was invited to partner with the Oakland County Fair in an effort to "Green up" the fair.  We were able to assist in this effort by:

#1 Displaying products and services in the Green Tent.

#2 Consulting with the Fair leadership on steps that could be taken to reach first year greening goals.

#3 Assisting in locating and implementing a soy bean based component into certain aspects of the fair     grounds operations.

#4 Participating in the education and awareness of green issues to fair visitors throughout the week.

I am mentioning this as a lead up to the main component of this message today.  And... that is the relationships that we formed in the process of participating in all of the above.

Who did we meet that week?  You can refer back to my Oakland County Fair Blog for a revisit of the weeks events.

Today I want to focus on the special accomplishments of one vendor who quietly and yet prominently displayed his talents at the green tent.  I have not yet talked much about the relationship I formed with what I will describe to you as a "green contractor" in Damon Dotson of Solar Works, LLC.

Why this has become top of mind and focus of today is relatively simple.  This guy not only talks the talk about green energy solutions... but... he walks the walk.

Damon invited me to visit his home in Whitemore Lake, Michigan... the world HQ for Solar Works LLC.   I had heard about some of the practices he has implemented not only at his home... but at many customers homes and businesses throughout Michigan.  I lost track of Damon after our week long encampment in Springfield Oaks County Park... come to think of it this was before the whole "occupy" movement made it's way to the main stream media.  I suppose you could say we were "Occupy Oakland County Fair" for the week!

With the limited time I have today I will introduce you to some of the great and innovative uses of green technology I discovered at the Dotson's home and then followup again in the near future with some Flip video I took during my visit.  Kind of like a hack version of "This Green House" coming soon.

The main purpose of my visit was to see the new solar panel installation that Damon began telling me about over a couple of short conversations throughout the summer.  He described to me a system that seemed very practical, affordable AND portable.   What I found unique about this installation was that it did not involve a roof mount or side mount onto a structure.... but was simply taking advantage of the large amount of open space with great undisturbed exposure to the suns rays.   The one main feature that really stood out in the conversation was the word "portable".   Why you ask?

Because... we are fickle people... who start out with one vision in mind... and then want to change it.  The added value proposition here is clear.  You invest in this great technology... your enjoying the benefits... and perhaps life delivers a change and your facing a move.  How many people do you know that have been faced with that decision.  What happens if the buyer of your home isn't so excited about your system... ?  Easy solution here!
Pack it up... and take it with you!

Please note the careful preparation of the foundation area of this panel system.  Damon described to me the extra steps he took in digging down into the ground and bringing in special A rating gravel for drainage and compacting.  Then added a nice additional layer of slag sand... compacted it all in to a nice firm foundation.  Next, he brought in concrete bumper blocks that you'd find in your average parking lot and fixed them into the ground with metal rods.  The panels are then firmly screwed into the weighed/staked bumper blocks for what Damon indicates is rated for over 100 MPH wind resistance.  Sure beats the heck out of my patio umbrella!

All this is connected together with all types of weather resistant fasteners, clips, wires, and modules that flow into a control box staked into the ground.  Next, Damon trenched a line running to the house that feeds into a DTE utility service panel attached to the side of his home and feeds into a special metering system.  This system allows for instant feedback with a digital display panel showing how much juice your panels are producing at any given time.  Damon demonstrated to me on this low sunny day in November that he was generating enough juice to satisfy his homes needs for the day AND anything over was being sold back to DTE through a special program he was able to implement called Solar Currents.  As of today... DTE is no longer taking new Solar Currents applications.  Bummer! And... I can understand why! If there are a lot more Damon's who implement what he has done... not really a good deal for someone like DTE who makes a living off you and me buying electricity from them.

So... in closing today... here is a guy who is leading by example.  I hope to be able to implement some of the steps I have learned about from Damon on my visit to his home.  I will share more of that with you in a coming additional blog with video content... in the coming weeks.

Until next time... "Hey... turn off that light switch! "  It really does all add up!  ;)



Monday, November 14, 2011

From Apple picking to Kid Rock... ask yourself "Are you up for a Challenge"? Perhaps the OakGreen Challenge?

This past month has come with changes that quite frankly I could skip over or do with out many of them.  Don't get me wrong... I love the fall leaves and the annual fireworks display that mother nature brings to us with out fail.  The trips to the cider mills for fresh pressed cider and doughnuts.  This year we headed to our favorite "cider country" in Romeo Michigan for a quick trip to Big Red's and then a new tradition we are forming in picking our own apples at Stoney Creek Orchards.   Each place has it's own distinctive nitch and I love each place because of that.  Big Reds for example offers a wide range of activities AND products that we enjoy.  The kids love to climb on the stacks of hay bales literally the size of a small barn and the petting zoo.  Now... nothing here comes without it's price... so be sure to bring some cash.  I laughed at the boiling pot of water being set up to sell corn on a stick for $2 each... and then walked into the farm market and discovered I can get 6 for $2.95.  Hummm... a premium for sure to have some one else prepare this for me.
I really enjoyed the Heirloom tomatoes that I have heard so much about.

Now over to Stoney Creek Orchards... this is really a fully operational orchard that gives visitors access to the fields to get a true pick your own experience.  I believe they charge you by the amount of apples you can fit into a bag they provide at the point of boarding a hay wagon pulled by tractor out to the fields.  So... you get the experience of the hay ride and apple picking all wrapped up in one neat package.  Funny thing... when you arrive at the drop point and disembark from the wagon... you don't quite know which way to turn first.  There are apples literally falling off the trees and the kids can hardly hold back the initial excitement.  It's like a rush to get there before they're all gone... but that is unlikely since there are so many of them AND trees planted according to variety.  The biggest thrill for the kids is knowing that there are tall ladders available... because every kid must know that the best apples are at the top of the tree.  Right?  My group surly  knew this bit of information because we could not keep them off the ladders!

         As you can see here my nephew needed a lift to get to the better quality AND being that I'm the tallest guy around with no ladder in the area... you get the uplifting experience from Uncle Don!

Last thing on this... rumor has it that Kid Rock lived somewhere very close to here and I have a reliable source that can confirm that.  Let's just say my wife picked up Kid Rock's undies... when he was just a little stone growing up in Romeo.  Mrs. Richie was my wife's tennis instructor and the girls did some house keeping for the family.  Little Bobbie... Hell on Wheels... then and now.   Whowooddaknown?

Now... onto the real reason for today dialogue... we move across the border and back into Oakland County for something new and exciting to tell you about.  Got Green?  Then... you need to check out the new link up on .

If you have visited the web site in the past week you may have noticed a new banner begging for your attention in the intrigue to "Take the OakGreen Challange!".


When you get here you will find:

 OakGreen Challenge: What Is It? 
The OakGreen Challenge is a commitment to reducing the energy consumption in your home, business, municipal facility or school facility by 10% by the end of 2012. Your efforts benefit the environment, your community, and your financial bottom line.

Getting Started

This is the end of year two of this important program that extends the request to reduce energy consumption by 10% by the end of the year 2012.  What is more important is that it is extended to:
 Residents, Business, and government AND provides all the resources you will need to get started.  

I know for me it is something simple that we all can do to get started.  With four children I could make a full time job of just going around the house turning off all the lights, appliances, fans, computers, and electronic equipment they seem to forget to do every day.  LITERALLY... I have formed a comment to them as we pass in the morning... "Please turn all your electronic devices off before leaving today..."  Kind of like the same thing as "make sure your seat is in the up right position as we prepare for landing...".   No kidding I think I can reach Brook Pattersons Challenge just in this simple act alone! 

L. Brooks Patterson
All the funny business aside... this is a pretty important time and place in our history when it comes to the race for new technologies.  Those who can do things... faster, smarter, with less red tape, and more efficient will win the race.  Not only residents and businesses have to watch their triple bottom line... but local government needs to get on this.  If you want to look to a city that is really taking this to the next level... look no further than Grand Rapids.  In fact last year at the inaugural OakGreen Event... Grand Rapids sent their "full time" sustainability manager in as one of the key note speakers.  This guy does the same thing I'm doing at home (running after my kids to turn off their stuff) but on a huge scale.   The statistic that stood out for me was that this guy save GR well over many time of what his salary was.  In fact... if he worked under a performance incentive (bonus for a % of total dollar savings) he would have been way ahead! 

So... in closing today... Get to the OakGreen Web Site... read up on what you can do... and stay tuned for further announcements on the annual event coming up in early 2012.  With that in mind stay tuned for some pretty exciting announcements coming soon about the next steps for the and the bricks and mortar version under development!   ;)  

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Parade Company.... The Spirit of Detroit.....a legendary Detroit Tradition...

This post is about traditions.  Let me start by sharing part of my daily ritual of putting on the coffee (yes... I don't consider this a hassle.... and have not been tempted to switch over to the quick fix of slamming an energy drink fix) and tuning into WJR radio.  Today they are broadcasting from The Parade Company and the annual pancake breakfast.   This is a major fund raising event for TPC and a vital part of getting major corporate sponsors lined up for the events they do.

These events include America's Thanks Giving Day Parade, The Hob Nobble Gobble, The Turkey Trot, The Detroit Fire Works and much more.  If not for this group... how would life be different?  No parade? No fire works?  Well... I guess it would be kind of empty and much less exciting.  I'm not just talking a talk here... I am willing and have walked the walk for TPC.  Are you man enough to dress like this?

Here is the challenge.  How does a non profit like TPC exist?  Certainly not from government funding.  Certainly not on it's own dole.  It takes donations and fund raising to keep these traditions alive.  Now... your not Blue Cross/Blue Shield or GM or Compuware or any of the large corporate donors.  

What can the you do to show your support?  We've got the perfect answer...

Here is an easy and affordable way to show your support for The Parade Company,  The Detroit Lions, The Detroit Tigers AND The Spirit of Detroit.  ALL... Detroit Traditions.

When you think about it.... The Spirit of Detroit wraps up the entire conversation in one nice neat package.  Do you love the Tigers and all they have done for our spirits this season?  Do you love the Lions and the new tough winning image they are forging?  Do you love the image of The Spirit of Detroit and what it means to each of us on a personal level?  

I am happy to share with you some of my own personal "Spirit of Detroit"... and I am not shy about broadcasting this loud and proud!  

NOW THEN... you can join me in showing your own "Spirit" by supporting the fund raiser for this unique collectible and iconic Tee that wraps it all into one package.

Introducing "The Year of the Cat.... Spirit of Detroit"  tribute tee.  Note the image in each hand of the statue holding up an image of a Tiger in one hand and a Lion in the other.

Proceeds from the sale of this tee will go to The Parade Company. We are planning on $5 per shirt sale to go directly to The Parade Company.  Get it now... while supplies last!  

Sizes:  L, XL, 2XL

Shipping via USPS only $4.95
By on line today with payments being accepted via Paypal.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Ecological Tee Shirt Company... a sister company of

You've heard a lot from me over the past year about changes you can make in the course of daily living that can lead to a cleaner, greener, and healthier life style. Many people across the world have responded positively by visiting our web page, making a purchase, down loading materials, and engaging in green fund raising.

This past week we reached a milestone in our mission of creating education and awareness of "green shifts" in the course of daily living.  On October 25, 2011 the 100,000 milestone occurred in the way of web site visitations. At the end of the day our reporting showed 100,355  This was a very satisfying day... not unlike watching the odometer of your car cross over the sacred threshold. Today the quality of vehicles is so much improved it would be very disappointing not to get at least 100,000 miles out of a vehicle.   And, so last week our analytic reports showed we crossed the first milestone of visits to the web site.

I spent time yesterday looking at the report and wondered who was the individual that clicked in on 100K?  The outreach has been much greater than expected and the results show global outreach like I never imagined. My geography skills are pretty good and as a former science teacher with an emphasis on earth science I have studied all parts of the world.  However,  there are some parts of the globe that I admit to not being very familiar with.  And so... today I now know where Izmir, Turkey is since there were 66 visits from this place.  Or... Beijing, China where we had 1,534 visitors.  And... 3 visitors from Ghana Africa.,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=f10181c958c90d45&biw=1639&bih=800

I would love to meet the 100,000 visitor.  It would be great to visit there hometown and see what is going on in their corner of the world.  Unfortunately the reporting is not that sophisticated and we will never know.  I would like to present the lucky visitor with a gift basket loaded with GFS products as kind of my way of saying... "Thanks for the visit... and come back anytime...".  And with that in mind let me say the same to you and yours for all you have or may have considered doing in the way of support, encouragement, or just a visit to .

Today I want to introduce to you a sister company of GFS that goes by the name of "The Ecological Tee Shirt Company"  or The ECOTEECO.

 You may have some of the ECOTEECO's early work in the way of the category of "organic clothing".  One of the early projects was the iconic M24 Tee.  This was a creative shirt designed to raise funds for the Oxford Chamber of Commerce located in Oxford Michigan.  The message was designed around a theme of celebrating the many traits about the Oxford-Orion community that we some times overlook.  We focused on the "Live, Work, Play... Shop, Dine, Stay... Bring your family, friends, and business... Enjoy our Rivers, Lakes, and Trails...".

M 24 Let's Take it Back Tee. Pink

What's different about a tee from the ECOTEECO?  What is our value proposition?  It should come at no surprise that each shirt we produce has to meet a "green" standard.  We apply the following standards in the production of every tee:

Effort to use an organic cotton Tee...
Use of water based inks for imprinting...   

From our printing partners web page:

How We're Different

Our company is different, from the way we produce our products to how we run our business. Here are just a few things that set us apart:
  • We run our business based on a triple bottom line - a model that looks after People, the Planet, and Profit equally.
  • We print your t-shirts with super low-impact water-based inks. These inks have both a significantly reduced environmental footprint, and are no-feel, which means that the print is part of the fabric rather than a plastic, thick coating on the surface of your shirt.
  • Our three TSD-brand t-shirts are all made right here in North Carolina, less than 100 miles away. Each one has a unique sustainable attribute - one organic, one recycled, and one made from local cotton.
  • We believe in the power of transparency, and we practice it religiously. Many details of our processes and products are published right here on our website, from suppliers to ink contents. If you want to know anything about how we operate, just ask.

What does that mean for you?  We feel that with every purchase the buyer will know that the farmer who grew the cotton has applied farming practices that meet the organic standard (no toxic pesticides or genetically altered product techniques).  

AND inks that are water based meaning that they have been created with techniques that allow for clean up with water and are not toxic to the environment.  Traditional plastisol imprint screening are plastic and are known to be harmful to the environment.

Therefore... we feel that our Tee's are in fact... "Ecological Tee's " and we want you to know about... and tell the story to your circle of friends, family, co-workers, and even your enemies... about our story. 

Watch for big news coming soon... Major press release coming in the next few days about our next big step in creating a cleaner, greener... never meaner... world!  And... where sustainable is obtainable!   

Thank you! 

Don Sherman
President of the AND NOW... 
The Ecological Tee Shirt Company