Can a re-imagined windmill create a sustainable energy future for Detroit?

Windmill project brings energy and art together

By Ken Haddad, Alex Atwell - Photojournalist

DETROIT - You may look at a windmill and think of it as an old design being used now for new energy. In Detroit, the new energy could unlock a future of sustainability.

Detroit's CAN Art Handworks is partnering with Eastern Market to change how people are using energy - using a re-imagined windmill.

Lead by artist, craftsman and eco-engineer Carl Nielbock, the windmills are created using previously manufactured parts, in different sizes and colors - the windmills are not only energy friendly - they are works of art.

In 2010, Carl began thinking about how the low altitude wind turbine (i.e. the windmill), a centuries old technology, could be re-imagined to generate green energy in Detroit today. He envisioned a windmill that could be sustainably produced using upcycled materials from within the city to generate clean energy, manage stormwater runoff that pollutes our rivers and lakes, help to irrigate the city’s many urban gardens, and restore Detroit’s vacant land to productive use.

Check out more on the project and donate here.

He connected these goals to another vision of applying the skilled trades to get Detroiters involved in building a homegrown industry, designing, building and using green energy technology right here.

At Eastern Market, small windmills will be on display, doubling as phone charging stations for shoppers.

"Your support of the CAN Art Wind Turbine Project is bigger than windmills. Our short-term focus is to partner with Eastern Market Corporation (EMC) to showcase a unique model of green energy production while enlivening two public spaces. Our long-term goal is to create the foundation of a homegrown industry to apply the skilled trades to design, build and use green energy technology using the resources and people within the city of Detroit."

This project will:

  • Create groundbreaking new ​windmills that generate energy for a device charging station and reuse stormwater to irrigate crops at Detroit's Eastern Market.
  • Create functional public art that helps visitors to the Eastern Market visualize the potential of upcycling and green energy production in Detroit
  • Engage Detroiters, students, urban gardeners and others in the fabrication and installation processes and inspire them to further innovate the windmills
  • Be a step towards our bigger vision of generating green energy in Detroit on a large scale using materials and people already within the city to design, build and innovate green energy technology.

Check out more on the project and donate here.

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