Now What Episode 10: Trash Powered

This episode of Now What is, on one level, a story about All Power Labs. APL is a group of genius misfits – Burning Man artists, brilliant engineers, and welders with a rebellious streak – and to properly understand them, a bit of backstory is required. Originally, they ran an illegal art compound on the outskirts of Berkeley, CA. The city didn’t like that much and cut their power in an effort to evict them. Rather than cave in and move out, they built their own power generators based on old World War II technology.

It’s a pretty impressive municipal ‘fuck you,’ and an even more impressive scaleable power solution when you consider a) its carbon negative footprint and b) its reversal of top-down power dynamics by using portable generators to build a grid from the ground up.

Pretty soon, the APL gang was growing their power experiments beyond their own lot and far beyond Berkeley, manufacturing biomass generators at scale and working with organizations around the world to put them in the hands of folks who wanted to find sustainable power solutions or, even more pressingly, simply wanted reliable access to power and electricity where there was none.

And so in that way, this episode is also a story about power. More specifically, access to power, and most specifically, a lack there of. Around the world, about 1.2 billion people have no access to electricity and the development benefits it brings. 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks.

And the thing about those truly stunning numbers, is that power is a backbone resource: it’s the underlying asset that allows you to educate, to have healthcare, to cook, to socialize, to communicate. The list is endless. And make no mistake, resourceful folks will —> Read More