#Solarpoemmachines and Open Source Hardware ArtScience


Soon it will be my backyard.  This land of Lakota Solar Enterprises in Pine Ridge, South Dakota is where affordable solar technology is born for both Native Americans and Refugees.

“What is bent, will be broken. Broken things have sharp edges.

Greece is not important for the EU owners and rulers. Not as a state, not as a society. They just want somebody to manage this spot on earth and help to turn one part into commercial property and the rest into a concentration camp.

For years every Greek government was obediently following orders from metaphorical Brussels. Breaking Syriza was demonstration of sheer power behind this obedience.

The refugee “crisis” will not stop. Paying Erdogan in cash and favour will only result in another flow of refugees — this time from Turkey itself. And Greece will caryy more burdens.

Greece is marked to be the sick man of Europe, to provide example and to discourage the dissenters. Every step back, every concession will make it worse.

The Greeks are now trying to survive. Trenched in their families, in their small social circles. Depressed by the weather and economic coercion. Their noble support to the refugees drained a lot of energy. But the Greeks are not weak. They are — on the basic level — enduring and patient. To the point.

And the spring is coming.”

Harper Pollock

To fix the West, we need an entirely new model of being-in-the-world.  Mental models of what new life ways can be are essential.  It is for this reason the following three projects are very interesting to me:

  1.  Freedom Nation

2.  FreeLab

3.  Lakota Solar Enterprises

I am excited about going to Pine Ridge soon.  Please consider contributing to my crowdfunding campaign here on GoFundMe.

“Helping Lakota Solar Enterprises in the Pine Ridge Reservation


I am a chemist passionate about social and technical solutions to climate change originally from Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  I am raising money so I can travel to the Pine Ridge Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and volunteer my time to help Lakota Solar Enterprises.  Lakota Solar Enterprises is a 100% native-owned and operated social enterprise founded by Henry Red Cloud of the Oglala Sioux Tribe that seeks to help tribes achieve energy sovereignty.  Lakota Solar Enterprises uniquely considers the social, ecological, and economic consequences of technology, providing a model of how sustainable businesses can be run.  Any money I do not use for logistics in my volunteering will be donated to Lakota Solar Enterprises.


Many Native American communities across the United States face high unemployment rates – some as high as 80% – and few business opportunities exist for individuals interested in starting their own companies.  Lakota Solar Enterprises empowers Native American students to embark on green business entrepreneurship by helping them create workable business plans and job training in solar heating, sustainable agriculture, and earth-friendly home construction.  In this process, Lakota Solar Enterprises stimulates Native American economic growth while simultaneously reestablishing connection to the natural environment leading to long term cultural growth.            


Over time, I have grown aware of the environmental consequences of my own American middle class lifestyle.  The carbon emissions emitted due to my lifestyle have a direct impact on nature due to their impact on climate change induced ecological disruption.  In my volunteering efforts, I hope to learn a new way of living that shifts my own behaviors towards minimizing my own carbon footprint and investigates the social factors necessary for inspiring others to take concerted and collective action to address climate change.  During the process of volunteering with Lakota Solar Enterprises, I will keep a detailed online journal that captures with as much detail as possible the core principles taught to me by Lakota Solar Enterprises and my fellow students necessary for economically sustainable living that is harmony with earth.

Long-Term Impact

So many people want to help find climate change solutions but do not have the time, or have their own families to look after.  I can make the time to help, and with your help I will.  Support me in my desire to serve as a bridge to a new future of cooperation around the issue of providing solutions to climate change.  As we all share earth, coming together across cultures and ways of life is an important first step to providing a future that following generations can thrive in.  I promise to communicate diligently what I do and learn to you in regular updates.  Thank you!”

It is my goal to work extremely hard in the month of May and April to help Henry Red Cloud with his Lakota Solar Enterprises and bring these teachings to FreeLabs and Freedom Nation.  I hope to get a very tight focus on how Henry is building teams across Nation lands towards building a new world with solar energy and sustainable agriculture.  My Solar Poem Machine project for the MIT Climate CoLab is an attempt to raise awareness for these enterprises and perhaps get more people involved both in time and money.

Proposal for Shifting Behavior for a Changing Climate

Solar Poem Machine

The Solar Poem Machine translates and delivers poems from communities around the world impacted by climate change into American art museums.

In an ever shrinking world the arts provide a means of delivering messages across boarders, bringing people together via a shared appreciation of beauty and aesthetic virtue. The Solar Poem Machine is a mixed media work merging machine language translation, sculpture, and poetry into a piece that delivers messages submitted via a web app into American art museums. Channeling the principles of Maker culture, the skeleton of the Solar Poem Machine is constructed from an antique piece of computer hardware (e.g. Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11).

The electronic infrastructure of the Solar Poem Machine is entirely powered by a solar panel, giving the piece the ability to exist entirely off the grid. Electric power derived from the solar panel powers a smartphone hidden inside the skeleton of the machine loaded with a custom app based on Google Translate. The custom Google Translate based app accepts poems submitted from around the world via a web app and translates the poems into English for an American audience. The activity of strategically placed LEDs and motors in the Solar Poem Machine are triggered by the inflection of the translation voice through a microcontroller board connected to the smartphone, giving the viewer the illusion that the Solar Poem Machine is a conscious machine.

The Solar Poem Machine will showcase advances in machine translation software. While such software does not yet deliver perfect translations, particularly of complex language expressions such as poetry, it promises to lower the barrier to growing interactivity between Americans and the rest of the world. The Solar Poem Machine will have a computer terminal that gives audience members the ability to contribute human translations of submitted poems, correcting the errors made by the machine translator. In participating in poetry translation, members of the American public will be drawn into dialog with the world around the social and cultural consequences of climate change.

Figure 1:  PDP-11

Pdp-11-40 Figure 2: Poem translation software



About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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