Happy 1-Year Off-the-Grid to a Very Special Non-Profit

Side Street Projects just celebrated one-year 100% solar.

Happy 1-Year Off-the-Grid to a Very Special Non-Profit
Los Angeles, CA, January 29, 2009 --(PR.com)-- Side Street Projects just celebrated one-year off-the-grid.

And for the Pasadena-based arts organization, going solar has meant a lot more than becoming more eco-friendly and saving on electrical bills.

Going solar has also allowed Side Street to completely eliminate the expense of office rent – the non-profit renovated two vintage Spartan trailers, installed desks and shelves, hooked up the solar panels and are now operating on empty space donated by the city.

Being 100% mobile and energy self-sufficient also enabled Side Street to stop worrying about a permanent home and focus on expanding their innovative hands-on educational programs that teach art, math and science as a unified curriculum.

A Cal Arts professor started Side Street 17 years ago. Side Street’s largest and oldest program, the Alternate Routes Woodworking Buses (see the video link below), was the inspiration for this latest move. In 1997, Side Street converted two 1989 school buses into mobile classrooms to teach hands-on woodworking skills to K-2nd graders.

“‘Education-on-wheels’ has obvious economic benefits and we figured, why not do the same thing with our administrative offices?” says Emily Hopkins, SideStreet’s Director of Programs. “80% of our donations and fees go directly to delivering services, where the money counts the most.”

Typical of Side Street’s DIY approach, Hopkins oversaw the trailer renovations and the solar panel implementation herself.

The solar panels were purchased with a $50,000 grant from The Ahmanson Foundation, the 1940’s Spartan trailers were purchased for $8,000 grant from the Pasadena Community Foundation. Much of the extensive renovations were accomplished by the hard work of Side Street’s staff and dedicated volunteers.

Side Street’s mobile programs have become increasingly important to the community, as budget-strapped schools have been forced to close down many in-house arts programs. And, Side Street’s curricula are truly unique in the art world, because students have to apply math, science and problem-solving skills in order to execute their own creative vision.

The Alternate Routes Woodworking Bus now serves children up to 5th grade and Side Street’s goal is to bring their unique curricula to all grades, including high school. To this end, Hopkins plans to purchase two more trailers to convert to classrooms with interchangeable work stations that will incorporate other media, in addition to wood.

“That way, we can reduce our per student costs over 30% and at the same time quadruple our capacity. Besides, the buses are beautiful, but they are getting old. We definitely need to raise enough donations to build the next generation of mobile classrooms, before the current ones start having real engine problems.”

Side Street is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

For more information or to get involved, visit: www.sidestreet.org

See the Woodworking Bus in action: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwEt1qUGe_U

Contact: jon@sidestreet.org

Side Street Projects
Jon La Pointe