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John Schaeffer: Biography of a Renewable Energy Visionary
John Schaeffer has been exploring renewable energy and sustainable living since graduating from UC Berkeley in 1971.
While living on a 300-acre commune in Mendocino County, California, after college, John found himself hosting crowds around his solar-powered TV whenever Saturday Night Live came on. In 1995 John helped create the Solar Living Center in Hopland, California, a stunning 12-acre environmental educational center surrounded by lush permaculture gardens. He founded and remains Board Chair of the educational nonprofit Solar Living Institute, dedicated to promoting renewable energy and sustainable living through inspiring educational programs. The Institute produces and hosts the annual SolFest solar energy festival that attracts more than 10,000 people, and offers hands-on workshops and interships throughout the year.
John lives a few miles from the Solar Living Center with his wife Nancy Hensley (pictured above with John on the deck of their home) in a passive-solar Rastra-block home they named Sunhawk, built mostly from recycled materials amid a permaculture oasis powered by solar and hydro-electric. From his living room at Sunhawk, John shares more of his story in our video clip From Hippie to Green-Living Guru: The Sun Lighted John Schaeffer's Way.