Solar Living Institute
PO Box 836
13771 S. Hwy 101 - deliveries
Hopland, CA 95449
- Solar Living Center Hours: Daily, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Summer; 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Winter
- SLI Office Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Friday, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM.
Karen brings many years of organizational and management experience to the SLI and holds a Business Management degree from St. Mary’s
College. Entering her ninth year at the SLI, she has adopted and adapted to the many changing roles that is the nature of a small non-profit. Dedicated to enabling and empowering others to finding their niche in the sustainable economy she oversees the solar training and workshops department, as well as nonprofit administration.
Prior to joining SLI she specialized in eco-tourism developing tours and leading professional groups to World Heritage sites around the globe. She currently resides in Healdsburg, CA, with her husband, writer and author, Christian Kallen.
Miranda is an enthusiastic student of life, a traveler and an environmental and social activist. She initially came up from the southern half of California for a job on the Eel River and found not just that, but also a change in perspective; a greater awareness of the world around her. In 2014 her focus became accelerating the necessary force that is the sustainability movement and The Solar Living Center, with its like-minded community, became the place to do it!
While working with the intern program, sustainable building classes and aiding in networking and outreach, Miranda lives her interests in community empowerment, development and sustainable construction. She loves Mendocino County and spends her time adventuring on the coast and through the Redwoods. Here at The Solar Living Institute Miranda is a team builder with a sincere passion for enabling those looking for tools and opportunities to create a better world.
Farm & Garden Manager
When he isn't learning new alternative energy concepts or weeding in the garden, Caleb likes to spend his time outdoors. Caleb's hobbies include mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, golf as well as jamming on the acoustic guitar. A combination of great music, food, and people is where you will find him.
Prior to his experience in PV installation, Caleb graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica, New York. His passion is in Alternative Energies, but after moving west to California he gained a higher awareness to sustainable living practices and our overall impacts on the planet. The mission at SLI fits well with Caleb's passions and gives him the facilities and resources needed as well as networking and connections to improve his skills, knowledge and experience in sustainable living on his pursuit to become a devoted and conscious contributor to the global community.
Board of Directors
Tom Cotter is Sales Manager of Central California at Real Goods Solar. He holds a deep desire to re-think, to re-design and build a positive future. Tom is the organizer and curator of the Fresno Solar Tour, co-founder of Green Central Valley and Founder of Fresno Green Drinks. He also serves on the board of directors at the International Green Industry Hall of Fame and Restore Hetch Hetchy. His roles as father, consultant, clergy, manager, public speaker, community organizer, and professor have provided a unique perspective on the challenges we face and the changes required to overcome them. He sees the end of the era of cheap fossil fuels and key materials, coupled with rising population and anxieties around water resources, food production and harmful wastes, as clearly demonstrating the need to rethink our model of production and consumption, not merely attempting to patch it up. He shares an optimism that this rethinking will bring a better quality of life and increased opportunities as it can potentially restore natural and social capital. Tom frequently speaks to groups about solar, creation care, circular economy, electric cars, postmodern culture and social media for good.
John Schaeffer, Founder, Board President
John has been exploring renewable energy and sustainable living since graduating from UC Berkeley in 1971. Over the last 32 years, he founded and grew Real Goods Trading Company as its President from a garage start-up to the foremost global source for tools and information on renewable energy and sustainable living. In 1995 he created the Solar Living Center in Hopland, California, a 12-acre educational demonstration site. He founded and remains Board Chair of the educational non-profit Solar Living Institute dedicated to promoting renewable energy through inspirational environmental education. He continues as President of Real Goods Solar, Inc., now a public company (NASDAQ: RSOL), that has installed more solar than any other company in the U.S. with over 6,000 homes solarized. John has received numerous awards including Small Business Person of the year, Most Environmental Catalog from the Direct Marketing Association three years running, and has been twice nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year. John lives with his wife Nancy remotely in Mendocino County, California in a natural home built mostly from recycled materials in the middle of a permaculture off-grid oasis powered by solar and hydro-electric, where John and Nancy also raise grapes, olives, fruit trees, and an abundant vegetable garden organically and biodynamically.
Joel is a proven business executive with a track record of success across sales, marketing and business development. He is currently leading the Marketing Department at Ecology Action. Ecology Action, a California-based non-profit, is a leading provider of innovative marketing and engagement programs that overcome barriers to reducing energy use and achieving environmental sustainability. Joel co-founded Independent Energy Systems, one of the top solar companies in Ca, that is now part of Real Goods Solar. During his 9 years in the solar industry, he had a hand in almost every aspect of solar, from his work as a NABCEP certified installer to his extensive experience in sales, business development and marketing. He has a broad background in energy efficiency for residential clients including solar thermal, passive solar, and green building. He served on the Leadership Committee of the U.S. Green Building Council for the Monterey Branch and continues to educate his community about the need to be more efficient with our resources. He is passionate about helping his country reduce its fossil fuel based energy use and reduce our personal energy consumption. And yes, he has solar on his house.
Nantzy has been strong supporter of Solar Energy from an early age and has lived off the grid for nearly 40 years. She hauled water and chopped wood in order to homestead where she could plant an orchard, grow food and raise her son close to nature in Mendocino County. Joining Real Goods in 1989 as the Retail Store Manager was a perfect opportunity for her to share her knowledge of and love for sustainable, independent living. In 1991, as the first dean, Nantzy helped birth and direct the Institute for Independent Living which would later become the Solar Living Institute.
Nantzy’s career at Real Goods has focused on managing the Hopland store and as Buyer for the catalog and the retail division. Her other responsibilities have included Retail Marketing Manager, Special Events Coordinator, Retail Division Director, and Solar Living Institute volunteer.
When not at Real Goods Nantzy enjoys as always gardening, and tending her orchard and chickens. She has a special love of wild rivers and oak woodlands and makes an annual backpacking trek to the lost world of the Eel River. She and her husband John have a biodynamic, solar and hydro powered farm where they grow olives, lavender and grapes.
Brian Varkevisser was raised along the planes of Northern Colorado, home of the black-tailed prairie dog and the greater prairie-chicken. He began his environmental journey with CoPIRG organizing against Coors, in support of the Clean Water Act. Upon graduating with degrees in Chemistry and Neurobiology, he hitchhiked through Mexico – running out of money in Chiapas where he spent time with biologists studying medicinal herbs in the jungles along the Mexico-Guatemala border.
The following decade was spent back in the states working to organize local environmental groups such as the Northcoast Environmental Center, Californians for Alternatives to Toxins and was briefly a member of the board for the Mendocino Environmental Center.
He currently teaches the importance in recognizing dangers of climate change to unsuspecting chemistry students at Mendocino College; while living off-the-grid for the past decade. His current projects at SLI include: Riparian Restoration of Feliz Creek - bordering the SLC and creating a Summer Science Institute here at the site.
David Arkin AIA, has taught and lectured on the subject of sustainable design for over fifteen years. He and his wife Anni Tilt are the principals of Arkin Tilt Architects, a firm specializing in energy and resource efficient design.David and Anni are founding members of the California Straw Building Association (CASBA). He is past-President of Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR). A licensed architect, he spent four years as project architect and planner with Van der Ryn Architectsmost notably on the Real Goods Solar Living Centerand apprenticed with Obie Bowman at Sea Ranch. David and Anni live with their two children in a 100 year old solar and wind-powered home in Albany, CA, where he currently serves as a planning and zoning commissioner.
After 12 years of electrical contracting work, Jeff Oldham worked 18 years for Real Goods as lead tech and manager and has owned his own Solar Contracting business, Regenerative SOLutions, for the last 4 years. He has been living off-grid with solar and hydro power for over 30 years. In 1993 he was selected as one of the coordinators of the Dream Team for The Greening of The White House project, and was responsible for Plugloads/Equipment and Renewables. He has taught classes in all aspects of sustainable development and RE. Currently, his work is 60% off-grid and 40% grid-connected with about half of it international, primarily in Latin America.
Principal and Founder, of The CONSILIO Group
Owner, Donald Aitken Associates
Ed Begley, Jr.
Actor; Environmental Media
Association Board Member
Founder & Director, Post Carbon Institute
Executive Editor, GlobalPublicMedia.com
Author, High Noon for Natural Gas
Executive Director, Co-op America
International Business Consultant and Author
Center for Resource Solutions
Owner, Donald Aitken Associates
Board President, Rainforest Action Network
New College of California at Santa Rosa
Author, The Party's Over and Powerdown
Executive Director, California SEIA
Robert W. Shaw, Jr.
President, Aretê Corporation
President, The Stella Group Ltd.
Executive Director, Solar Energy Int'l.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and President of Waterkeeper Alliance