Concert on April 20 supporting power for Puerto Rico

newspaperEight local Harrisonburg and Rockingham County organizations want to help more communities in Puerto Rico get power back after Hurricane Maria.

With their sponsorship, a local group of organizers have created a donate-what-you-can concert and salsa dance on April 20 which they hope will be a lively and entertaining evening for a diverse audience.

The philanthropic groups Resilient Power Puerto Rico and/or Solar Libre, both founded under the umbrella of the Coastal Marine Resource Center, will receive all proceeds. As the website resilientpowerpr.com and co-founder Walter Meyer explain, RPPR is a group of collaborators from New York and Puerto Rico who formed only hours after landfall of hurricane Maria. Their mission is not only power for the island’s vulnerable populations, but energy resilience to protect against future extreme weather disasters.

Using a successful model from CMRC’s Power Rockaways Resilience project, they provide photovoltaic energy systems, essentially solar generators with solar panels and battery storage, so that a community can independently power communications, phone charging, medical equipment, and other critical services. Solar Libre, a similar project, reaches beyond Puerto Rico to provide this service to underserved communities on nearby islands also devastated by Hurricane Maria.

The benefit concert features a line-up of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County musicians who have volunteered their time. Doug Hendren, a retired surgeon turned environmental songwriter, will sing his own compositions such as the tongue-in-cheek “Solar Spill” which asks “who’s gonna pay the bill for a solar spill?” The popular blues and swing duo Bobby Driver and Trudy Cole bring expert guitar techniques and favorite numbers like “Mind Your Own Business.” Local salsa band Trio Enka shares their Latin rhythms for listener and dancer enjoyment. A salsa instructor will enable beginning dancers to join in.

A relief worker will briefly explain Puerto Rico’s recovery status and show slides of Puerto Rico before and after hurricane Maria. During intermission, sponsor displays will be open for information and guests may enjoy party finger foods provided by the sponsors. Sponsors are Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Community Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg CoHousing, Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalists, Renew Rocktown, Salsaburg, Valley Friends Meeting, and Voluntary Gas Tax.

Energia Solar Por Puerto Rico, a concert and dance to enable resilient power for Puerto Rico, will occur Friday, April 20, 2018, 7 to 9PM, at the Fellowship Hall of Community Mennonite Church, 70 S. High St., Harrisonburg. The event is open to all community members on a donate-what-you-can basis.

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