Winneshiek Energy District

Break Free Decorah

Break Free 2016 is a global celebration of our society-wide transition away from fossil fuels and towards a cleaner energy future. A broad coalition of local organizations are partnering on a series of public events in early May. The agenda will be continually updated on this page, and if you have specific questions don't hesitate to contact Break Free Coordinator Ryan Hall of the Energy District's Green Iowa AmeriCorps team.

May 5th- Break Free Solar Workshop
Winneshiek Energy District, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, Luther College and Break Free from Fossil Fuels Decorah present the Break Free Solar Workshop! Come speak with solar contractors at our expo who have a wealth of knowledge regarding all things solar. Afterwards, hear from the Winneshiek Energy District and local solar enthusiasts and professionals about the ‘how-to’ side of solar. No matter who you are, there is a way to get involved and learn more about how we can all Break Free from Fossil Fuels.
Valders 206, 6:00-7:00pm Expo 7:00-8:00pm Presentation, Panel, and Q&A

May 7th – Winneshiek Farmer’s Market 8am-12pm Local Foods, Electric Car Show, Arts, and Solar/Human-Powered Appliances!
In order to Break Free from Fossil Fuels, we must eat local foods. There is no better place to eat your way to a clean energy future than the Farmer's Market! Supporting local farmers boosts our local economy, and reduces the miles your food travels.
At the Farmer's Market, we will feature arts and gadgets, including the 'Climate Ribbon Project', where participants write on a ribbon what they don't want to lose to climate change. Ribbons will be posted on the trees at Norm Smith Plaza (outside Oneota Co-op). We will also feature a number of solar ovens, a bicycle blender to make smoothies, and other fossil fuel-free appliances, such as a human-powered push mower and electric mower.

From 10am-12pm, we will host our very own 'Electric Car Show', along Claiborne Dr near City Hall. Visit with electric vehicle owners, and learn more about how our community members are Breaking Free with their vehicles!
Break Free from Fossil Fuels is a global initiative, made possible by, that inspires communities throughout the world to pressure their leaders to break ties with the fossil fuel industry, and encourages communities to make strides towards a 100% renewable energy future. Find more information at Break Free Decorah.

May 8th- Adult Education at Good Shepherd (10:45a.m.) and Decorah Friends Meeting (9:30a.m.)
Good Shepherd Luther Church and Decorah Friends Meeting will host adult education related to Breaking Free from Fossil Fuels, what their group has done, and what their members can do to also Break Free.

At Good Shepherd Lutheran, Dr. Jim Martin-Schramm will lead a discussion of the question, “How can we as good and faithful stewards of God’s creation take further actions to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels at Good Shepherd, in our homes, within our community, and throughout Iowa?”  The Good Shepherd congregation has accomplished a great deal over the last several years. They are an Energy Star building because of their reduced consumption of energy and fossil fuels.

Decorah Friends Meeting is looking at the possibility of installing solar PV on a parking shelter behind their building.

May 11th – Pope’s Encyclical Discussion at Decorah Public Library 4:30pm
Pope Francis has sent a clear message; climate change is real and we must come together to care for our earth. In his most recent Encyclical titled “Laudato Si: On Caring for Our Common Home”, he speaks to the entire world, regardless of faith, to transform our thinking and begin acting as greater stewards of our home.
Dr. Don Hommen has studied the Encyclical and will offer his experiential reflections on the overarching themes of the message, the points we must not miss. Recalling briefly the role of the biblical prophets, he will invite the audience to consider who the prophets of our time are and how they have come to their realizations. Whether ancient or modern, the theme of the prophets is similar: the reality of the world must be named, not put on hold. Dr. Hommen’s presentation will not be an exhaustive discussion of the document; rather, he hopes to inspire others to read and digest its personal import in further conversations.

May 12th – Greensburg Kansas Film and Panel Discussion - 6:30pm Decorah Public Library
Greensburg, Kansas was devastated by a tornado in 2007, and in rebuilding their town, transitioned to a ‘green’ town. They now tout having a 100% renewable energy town that exports power to its neighbors. Out of the rubble of destruction, the community in Greensburg brought the town back on its feet, and has been a model for green building success.  Mayor Dixson stated that “We learned that the only true green and sustainable things in life are how we treat each other.” If we in Decorah are to transition to a 100% renewable energy town, we must also ignite the sense of community that Greensburg had done.
There will be a short film shown (14 min) featuring Mayor Bob Dixson, where he highlights how his town came together, what strategies were put into place, and gives key advice to those willing to transition the way Greensburg had done. Following the film, we will hold a panel discussion to try and find the next steps to boost our sense of community, and our commitment to becoming truly sustainable.

Panelists include Carolyn Corbin, who will facilitate the discussion, David Lester, GM of Oneota Co-op Market, Andy Johnson of Winneshiek Energy Distrct, and Dennis Pottratz of Go Solar!

May 15th – Sustainable Driftless, Community & region planning @ Phelps Park 1:00p.m.
Early in 2016, many community members met in the basement of the Decorah Public Library to talk about a Sustainable Decorah. To cap off our Break Free from Fossil Fuels initiative, we invite local and regional leaders to meet and discuss a Sustainable Driftless. Breaking Free means we must come together as a larger community to map our resources, know where we need progress, and make connections among leaders to make change happen. Become part of the conversation by joining us at Phelps Park. Robert Wolf, local author and visionary, will present the concept of regionalism and Building the Agricultural City.

Joining us in the dialogue will be:

Retired scientist Bill Pardee who now practices restorative agriculture on his farm outside Decorah.

Retired president of Decorah Bank and Trust, Larry Grimstad, who now focuses his efforts on promoting renewable energy systems.

Julie Fischer, retired teacher and nurse, is currently the coordinator of the Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center.

Chef Monique Hooker, born in Brittany, who is a leading force in Wisconsin’s local foods movement.

Former school superintendent Russell Loven and current mayor of Guttenburg.

Craig Mosher, a professor of Social Work at Luther College, focuses on community development.

Roger Thomas, former Iowa state representative, currently economic development director for Elkader.

Break Free has been made possible in Decorah with the help of many community members and organizations. Thank you to Luther College, Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center, Winneshiek Energy District, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, Winneshiek Farmer’s Market, and Decorah Ace Hardware.

Contact person: Ryan Hall (734)788-1810