1999 Life Technics Conference at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

September 17-19, 1999

27th Annual Life Technics Conference and
13th Annual Peter Van Dresser
Small Village Sustainable Development Workshop

at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center near Abiquiu, NM

Conference Summary
The 27th Annual Life Technics Conference and 13th Peter Van Dresser Village Development Workshop took  place on Sept 17-19, 1999, at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico. This year's conference was packed with interesting and informative presentations by some of the most influential and knowledgeable people in New Mexico and the United States on solar energy and related practices. 

A Report by Rose Marie Kern
I have attended about six of the Annual Conferences at Ghost Ranch now, and each of them had a totally different flavor. The first one had a lot of participation by the technologies people – the NMSEIA members.  The next was almost completely geared towards the passive solar.  Then there was the one just before the ASES National Conference when we were running around trying to figure out how to run something so huge, and figuring out how to take advantage of the opportunity.  One focused primarily on education – reaching the kids and then last year’s brought out the spiritual side of Solar and Sustainability. 

This year, Ben Luce and Julie Stephens, the conference managers, decided to tackle a timely and difficult issue – Breaking the Barriers that stand in the way of a sustainable future. The focus was there – but something happened and the conference turned a direction all its own.

Our usual building was in use by the Society of Friends, a lovely group of people with which to share the grounds.  As a result, we held our conference in what used to be an old chapel – now, I have been accused of preaching about solar before, but this is the first time I had a pulpit!

Right from the beginning, events began to have a more political focus.  Over the last year there have been many issues coming up regarding utility legislation, the PRC, and whether or not NMSEA should be actively involved in some way.  Our first speaker, David Warren, formerly of the PUC, galvanized us towards really looking at what we can do to encourage sustainable thinking in the political arena.  Mike Myers from DOE’s Rebuild America program continued in that vein discussing what is happening on a National level.   Barbara Ford from the South Valley Energy Action Team discussed projects happening in the south part of Albuquerque. 

The new Board of Directors was elected – both the voting and ex-officio boards boast a high level of credibility and dedication to the environment.  Many issues affecting our ability to grow were also discussed.  A committee was appointed to formulate a business plan that would include the feasibility of opening a physical office, hiring a secretary, an executive director, or a grant writer.   They will report at the December board meeting in which we will also have the annual election of officers.

We held spirited discussions on the future of NMSEA.  Our group has grown in size and in the presence we have at state levels quite a bit this past year, and our ability to get grants has grown too.  We have observed the increase in interest about alternative energy and green building on a state and national level.  NMSEA has held the torch high since 1972 and we find ourselves uniquely situated to guide New Mexico into a more environmentally focused future. 

Cervantes in a soliloquy about life’s insanity wrote “Maddest of all, to see life as it is, and not as it should be.”   We agree