During the 太麻里 trip, Ruping（Gao Ruping, General Secretary at TRENA） and I went to two tribes, the first was 拉勞蘭部落 and the second was 卡大地布部落. The following are my thoughts and observations of the visits.
At the Church, Ruping made a presentation about renewable energy to the 拉勞蘭 community and leaders from other tribes. She showcased the development of solar energy in rural Taiwan, its advantages, and ideas for future projects. She described TRENA’s process of respectfully engaging with stakeholders and how TRENA embraces community participation. The 比亞外部落 and the 拉勞部落 were used as examples of tribes that have benefitted from the installation of solar panels. They have reduced their electricity bill, as well as created community visions for the tribes’ economic development. I thought the idea of incorporating PV energy with the creation of locally harvested and produced foods was very creative. With the help of renewable energy, these tribes have a lot of potential to grow their economy and preserve their culture while incorporating new technologies. Furthermore, it proved to be a powerful presentation since it changed the leader of the 卡大地布部落 stance on solar power. Before Ruping’s presentation, he and his community were against PV development due to unfair revenue allocation amongst the company, government, and tribe. As a result, he decided that his tribe will develop its own renewable energy project and invited TRENA to his community to discuss a future action plan for solar energy. The visit will be discussed more detail below.
Ruping presentation about renewable energy
Additionally, I was very surprised to see a Presbyterian church in this rural township of Taiwan. It was interesting to see how the 拉勞蘭部落 has integrated this form of spirituality, which has originated from the West, into their daily lives. They seem to have found a balance between their traditional culture and outside religion. Besides the spiritual objectives of Christianity, this church also plays a key role in providing food and health services to the community. This integration between the old and the new is also apparent in how the 拉勞蘭部落 has integrated solar panels into their energy source. I am impressed with the openness of the tribe to new ideas and technology.
It has been said that an affordable and reliable source of energy is important for the prosperity of a country and a community. When it comes to the 拉勞蘭部落, solar energy can lower the community’s electricity bill and provide energy for the tribe. Extra finances and energy can be designated to activities such as producing locally made products. When I went to the tribe’s Millet Workshop, I had delicious homemade food that incorporated locally grown millet and quinoa. If the tribe has not already, it could cooperate with local business to sell its products, such as the hotels. At the hotel we stayed in, they provide breakfast and supper; it would be interesting to have locally produced products from the tribe incorporated in the meals. Additionally, by providing food to the hotels, the community could use it as way to advertise and grow their tourism industry. Businesses usually expect a consistent supply of food, and this could be done if there is cheap electricity, organization initiatives, and funding for such a project. 拉勞蘭部落 is full of potential and I hope they can find ways to grow their food production and tourist industry.
Ruping and Pastor Sakinu Tepiq
Hunting School and Cultural Health Station
In September, solar panels will be installed on the Hunter school and the Cultural Health Station. This will provide a space to host green energy workshops and community events. I feel that this is a great educational opportunity that can inform residence and outsiders about green energy and how the tribe has linked renewable energy with its culture and economic development.
When we visited the 卡大地布部落, they were incredibly welcoming and good spirited. I was impressed with how the chief reacted to Ruping’s presentation. After her presentation, they decided to finally accept solar energy development on their land. As I understand it, this tribe has felt that they have been disrespected by the government and the energy company and has now decided to start its own PV project. I hope TRENA can help the tribe find a trustworthy enterprise to support their 3kW green energy tribal demonstration project. With any development plan, there is always logistical, political and social hurdles to jump over, and I look forward to seeing how TRENA and the tribe can work together to realize their solar energy plans.