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Monday, October 12, 2009

NEW TO GA/GI: Union Project and Art Energy Design

With his heart and vision firmly planted in the East End, Jeff Dorsey has gone from the executive directorship of development in Friendship to become--well, Executive Director of the Union Project in Highland Park. It wasn't a stretch for the tall guy, but it was a change. An important one to a community out to reinvent itself. As the East Liberty, Garfield and Friendship neighbotrhoods push forward with innovative agendas, Dorsey is again among those riding the crest of the wave, by inviting the public to program Union Project-- in fact, program the space from the"outside in."

Said Dorsey:"We want to talk to people. See what kind of ideas they have in mind that we can help grow." And there is plenty of room for that. The one thing the Union Project building has is space--in spades. They currently offer it to people teaching classes in zumba, yoga, African drumming, and even hula hoop. " Dorsey also showed us several beautiful (and affordable) offices for rent. "We want every bit of our space used," he said with enthusiasm. He sees the Geek Arts and Green Innovators Festival as a perfect partner for the Union Project, who will host the kick-off ceremonies on Friday, April 2, with a robotics "play date" for pre-schoolers, a performance by the World Beat Drummers from Dilworth Elementary School, and green and tech activities with students from Peabody High School, coordinated by the Union Project's Ameri Corps staff. There's even talk of doing a "dancing machine/pop-n-lock" workshop for the kids.

"The Union Project is looking to connect the larger arts community," said Dorsey, "And we plan to build that community from the grassroots up." He adds with a smile, "That definitely includes Techies and Greenies."

And on that note.....
"I also have a collection of insect/bot sculptures made from recycled kitchen items that have LED lights that run on internal rechargeable batteries that can be charged from the flower sculpture. These are all about fun and humor and they literally hang around," said David Edwards describing the accessories that come with his Power Flower.

Aptly named, the 14-foot tall sunflower sculpture has solar panels on the upper leaves and a small generator that makes power when the flower petals spin in the wind. Power is stored and controlled in 12 volt batteries contained in the base, which the sculpture uses to light itself and the area around it all night with the LED light fixtures under the leaves. There is also an outlet (like a car lighter socket) that can charge cell phones, run laptops or even a small dc water fountain all evening. In addition, a small AC inverter (house current) produces 200 watts of power. Whew! It may seem a lot to ask of a flower, but Edwards has it covered. He is the brains behind Art Energy Design, which quoting its website "integrates sustainable energy technology with a variety of artistic designs and contexts." The Power Flower is also a teaching tool, that travels widely extolling the virtues of sustainability throughout the region. Its shiny face has been seen as several posh events in the area including A Fair in the Park at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Hothouse, an annual event produced by the Sprout Fund. The Power Flower will also be showcased at the Bioneers Conference October 16-18. When not in use, Power Flower docks with its headquarters at the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

The Geek Arts/Green Innovators Festival looks forward to hosting Edwards and his super flower of steel April 2, 2010!


  1. This is great news, I'm glad I had the opportunity
    to read it! Great photo, I love that view,& the
    windows! Keep moving forward, & take care.

  2. It is great to be on board the GAGI festival with the Power Flower and it's buggy little friends. We will have a little something for all ages.

    Thanks to all the wonderful GAGI organizers that are showcasing art and green innovation....a flower can relate to this grassroots perspective:)


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