Logo about EcoSage Corporation

Laying the Foundation

EcoSage Corporation was founded by Allan Baer and Ron Swenson in January 1998, to develop solar energy education initiatives. The intent was to build upon our previous experience in hands-on, experiential learning centered on community service. Earlier projects that served as a foundation for our new venture included:

   Baggins End, student-built housing at UC Davis in 1972
   Tonatiuh, Mexican solar race car, 1992-1996

The Virtual Village Schoolhouse and the iNet News Team

In 1998 and 1999, working toward a program of international scope, we developed the SolarQuest® online virtual village schoolhouse. Then, to create a mechanism for hands-on experience for youth, we formed the SolarQuest® iNetNews team, an extension of the virtual schoolhouse, transforming it into a news medium -- a means for youth to express their observations and accomplishments in environmental matters.

In May 1999 at the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America in Detroit, the iNet News team of 21 high school students delivered news of the event via a mobile satellite connection to the internet provided by co-sponsor EDS, and consequently we became acquainted with Village Power 2000 and the White House Millennium Council's initiative to bring internet connectivity into remote villages around the world, which led us to participate in "Solar Light for the Churches of Africa" in Uganda during the summer of 1999 -- establishing contact via remote telecommunications in Uganda on a temporary basis during the three week tour in which solar systems were installed on 100 schools, orphanages, churches and health clinics.

Then, in December 1999, the iNet News Team participated in the first African Energy Ministerial Meeting in Tucson Arizona, and again in December 2000, at the second African Energy Ministerial in Durban, South Africa.

Micro-Solar Distance Learning Initiative

In collaboration with the White House Millenium Council and public and private sector partners from the United States, the United Kingdom and Bolivia, EcoSage Corporation established a micro-solar distance learning program in the deep-rural community of Porvenir in the Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in October 2000. The program provides technical assistance to build human capacity in education, health care, governance, and commerce through a variety of learning activities focusing on sustainable economic development. Learning resources for the program are accessible primarily through the Internet. In-country program partners, including Friends of Nature Foundation, NUR University, Radio IRFA, and National Florida High School, visit Porvenir periodically to provide training and support. Long-distance learning resources include a Spanish language pen pal program with the Bluffsview Elementary School in Ohio (USA) and technical assistance and training from EcoSage Corporation. The on-line SolarQuest® Village Schoolhouse provided by EcoSage facilitates long distance learning.

During 2001, technology development for this initiative was advanced through EcoSage's association with Hewlett Packard's World e-Inclusion program. EcoSage designed and installed a prototype telecenter system (see SkyBridge at HP Labs in Palo Alto and SQUIRE Lab in Santa Cruz), focussing on satellite delivery, wireless local loop, data collection, and energy management subsystems.

As part of the MicroSolar initiative, to build awareness of the impact that clean, renewable energy systems can have on the environment, we have developed rMeter

Current Projects

Current Micro-Solar Distance Learning Initiative pilot projects can be seen on the SolarQuest® website. For details ...

Exploratory Pilot Projects

Several projects that have involved on-site exploratory missions are described on our websites ...

More about the SolarQuest® Virtual SchoolHouse

"The SolarQuest® Virtual SchoolHouse is a system to communicate and maintain information about all aspects of solar energy technology and development. The information is created by you -- school administrators, teachers and students around the world -- in order to share your experience in an open format with others who are committed to the Quest for Sustainability.

When you first visit the Virtual Schoolhouse, feel free to browse through Quests that others have developed. To participate directly, you must "Log In" as a new user by submitting a short registration form. This enables you as a student to register for Quests and submit reports in the schoolhouse. (Your contact information will be used to notify you of actions related to your activity and will not be made available to outsiders.)

As a teacher you may create Quests (course content) and Tasks (assignments), and manage student responses online. Student reports are only published for viewing by outsiders once reviewed and accepted by you, the teacher.

The Global Digital Library

The SolarQuest® Virtual SchoolHouse and iNet News Team programs have continued to evolve. Our goal is to expand our Micro-Solar Distance Learning Initiative into a Global Digital Library (GDL) -- essentially an international alliance of donor agencies, non-governmental and faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and private corporations in developed nations collaborating with national governments, regional churches, educational institutions, and civil society organizations in developing countries committed to creating a community-owned library system for rural development. At the community level and at the core of the library network are democratically managed independent civil society organizations established for the sole purpose to own, operate, and maintain a proposed system of 10,000 "bricks and mortar" libraries connected to the World Wide Web. 

Global Digital Library Mission

The mission of the Global Digital Library (GDL) is to provide an information services and support network to empower rural communities in developing countries with the requisite technology infrastructure, financial capacity, and human resources to achieve sustainable economic development and permanently alleviate poverty. The goal of the GDL is to develop a network consisting of 10,000 wireless, electronic libraries to improve the lives of 100 million people.


Additional Background

EcoSage is in part a reincarnation of EcoSystems which was founded by Ron Swenson in 1970. The mission has shifted to emphasize educational rather than commercial objectives.

"The Mission of EcoSystems is to develop, promote and market methodologies, technologies, and products that conserve natural resources and advance our planet towards sustainability through the use of solar energy.

"We specialize in technology development:

"SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: We design and develop EcoVillages (mixed-use environmentally sensitive housing/commercial communities);

"SOLAR ENERGY: We nurture technology development and identify market opportunities in solar energy including passive solar design and energy conservation (such as the soon to be manufactured high efficiency TPTS gas-fired water heater);

"TRANSPORTATION: We promote and nurture sustainable transportation alternatives (electric and solar powered vehicles, Ultra-Lite Rail Systems..."

EcoSystems has also done extensive research on the future of oil and the use of solar energy in response to the need created by the accelerating depletion of oil on a global scale. The results of this research can be seen at
revised 2004 September 30 contact us