A ROAD NOT TAKEN in the exhibition ART-IVISME at Museumcultuur Strombeek-Brussels, Belgium
from April 10 until May 12, 2015.
First Summer Solstice with Solar Array installed on the White House – again
by Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller, June 20, 2014
Exactly 35 years ago, on June 20th, 1979, President Jimmy Carter dedicated the first solar installation on the roof oft he West Wing. The 32 solar panels were just the visible part of his much broader energy plan. He invited members of the Congress and people from the solar community for the dedication ceremony and stated: “Today, I am sending to the Congress legislative recommendations for a new solar strategy that will move our Nation toward true energy security and abundant, readily available energy supplies.”
With the voting out of Jimmy Carter, this renewable energy strategy got abandoned, the panels got dismantled by the following administration and it took 31 years for a president to announce a new set of solar panels. From the announcement of the Obama administration in 2010 until installation last fall, there was another wait of three years.
The commitment for solar on the White House by the Obama administration was minimal. For a building of that size, the installation is rather small. Neither a dedication ceremony, nor any political push, just a short video clip nine moth after the installation. It looks like the administration did just something to placate those who were making noise and kept as tight lipped about the installation as possible.
We’re working on this story since 2006 and are probably responsible for some of the noise. We often tried to imagine how solar might come back to the White House. This is definitely not what we expected, and it’s definitely not what the first generation of solar enthusiasts deserves.
It’s important not to forget, that the technology, which is now on the roof of the White House was developed due to Carters big push for research and development in the late 1970s. In the last 35 years the U.S. never spent a comparable amount of money for the evolution of renewable energies again.
Looking from this side, the shabby installation and the poor communication might make sense. 35 years ago Jimmy Carter ended his speech like this: “I think all of us working together can assure the success of what is being initiated this afternoon—a national program supported and enjoyed by all Americans to make solar energy a clean, sure, economical, exciting part of Americans’ lives.”
A ROAD NOT TAKEN at the 1st LIFE AFTER OIL Edition of the 9th Sardinia Film Festival, August 2, 2014, 10 pm, Martis/ITALY
National Museum of American History:
EARTH DAY blog post
Jimmy Carter’s solar vision
by Jeffrey K. Stine on April 23, 2014
As we celebrate Earth Day amidst increased public attention to the implications of human-induced climate change, Curator Jeffrey K. Stine reflects on President Jimmy Carter’s efforts 35 years ago to engage the public in discussion about national energy and environmental policies.
A ROAD NOT TAKEN GETS FEATURED ON MSNBC – HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS
WHITE HOUSE SOLAR PANELS BEING INSTALLED THIS WEEK (WASHINGTON POST)
Big News: Finally the White House gets its solar panels back!
ANOTHER BEGINNING OF SUMMER WITHOUT SOLAR ON THE WHITE HOUSE
27 years after Jimmy Carters solar panels were taken down during his successors second term, and nearly 3 years after the announcement of the Obama administration to put back solar on the house until summer 2011, the new solar on the White House project officially is still in the procurement phase.
After the reelection we thought it might more likely for the administration to make good on its promise. How ever, it looks more like another missed year.
We’re not talking about kilowatts here. We are talking about an important symbolic change of course for the future generations.
It’s obvious that there will be a new set of panels on the White House one day. All we can hope for now is, that the current administration or any future one doesn’t lose out the opportunity to invite Jimmy Carter for its dedication.
Christina Hemauer & Roman Keller, 2013-06-20
P.S.: The Jimmy Carter solar installation was dedicated today, 34 years ago.
May 2nd, 7 pm | A ROAD NOT TAKEN part of Ideas City / New York at Swiss Institute
DVD/Book now available on Amazon
This DVD/Book publication contains the film on DVD with subtitles in six languages (German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and English) and a 24-minute bonus track. The 24 minutes of additional bonus footage covers what happened between 1986 and now. The hardcover book the size of a DVD case includes 64 pages in color, mostly unpublished pictures and facsimiles which document the story of the Jimmy Carter White House solar installation. A timeline describes the events around the solar panels since 1972. Detailed captions provide a deeper insight into the “Road not Taken”. In 1979, Jimmy Carter, in a visionary move, installed solar panels on the roof of the White House. This symbolic installation was taken down in 1986 during the Reagan presidency. In 1991, Unity College, an environmentally-minded centre of learning in Maine acquired the panels and later installed them on their cafeteria roof. In «A Road not Taken», Swiss artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller travel back in time and, following the route the solar panels took, interview those involved in the decisions regarding these panels as well as those involved in the oil crisis of the time. They also look closely at the way this initial installation presaged our own era.
Another Road not Taken – Artists Statement / Open Letter
As artists based in Zurich we first started in 2006 to work on a video installation and later on a documentary about the former solar installation on the White House. Jimmy Carter had installed them in June 1979 – in midst of a sever recession during the second oil crisis and only some months before the re-election that Carter didn’t win.
Reagan’s Road to Climate Perdition
History can be seen as crossroads where people pick paths and live with the consequences, with some paths leading to grave dangers. Election 1980 was one such crossroad as Americans made the feel-good choice of Ronald Reagan over the eat-your-peas option of Jimmy Carter — taking a path to climate catastrophe, says Sam Parry (Consortiumnews, January 29, 2012).
A ROAD NOT TAKEN at This Human World Festival 2011, Vienna
«It turns out Carter’s warning was at least partially correct: two of his solar panels are museum pieces now.»
Green Center: Film Examines Jimmy Carter’s White House Solar Installation
«Leave it to the Europeans to thoroughly document a glorious chapter in American history — the comprehensive energy policy of the Carter Administration and the decision in 1979 to install solar panels on the roof of the White House.»
32 Solar Panels – 32 Years ago
Yesterday – 32 years ago – 32 solar panels were dedicated on the roof of the White House. Today the White House fails to keep its promise to put up a new solar system.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced last October that by the end of this spring solar panels will be put back on the roof of the White House.
Yesterday Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Director of the SunShot Initiative was stating that the DOE remains “on the path” to complete the White House solar demonstration project.
Golden Sun Award Best Documentary
«A Road not Taken» won the Golden Sun Award Best Documentary at FICMA Barcelona.
Finally – the DVD/book publication of «A Road not Taken» can be ordered worldwide here.
A ROAD NOT TAKEN will be broadcasted again on Swiss National Television on August 14, 2011, 12:00.
The freshly printed publication can be ordered in Europe here and will be available in the United States within a couple of days.
A ROAD NOT TAKEN was broadcasted on Swiss National Television on Mai 8, 2011.
FICMA 2011: 18th Barcelona International Environmental Film Festival chose A ROAD NOT TAKEN to be part of the official section ( June, 1 – 8 ).
Ecozine: IV International Film Festival and Environment of Zaragoza in Spain selected A ROAD NOT TAKEN (May, 13 – 21, 2011).
Screening: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 6 pm
Forest Row Film Society in Sussex (UK) shows A ROAD NOT TAKEN.
Screening: Friday, May 13, 2011, 8 pm
The Santa Cruz Film Festival, California included A ROAD NOT TAKEN in the upcoming edition.
Screening: Friday, May 6, 2011, 4 pm
The INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL Dortmund | Cologne presents A ROAD NOT TAKEN (April, 12 – 17, 2011)
Screening: Friday, April 15, 2011, 6.15 pm
Official Selection for CINEMA PLANETA, Cuernavaca City, México (March 11 – 19, 2011)
Screenings: Saturday, 12, 4 pm, Sala 4 Cinemex Diana / Monday, 14, 2 pm, Sala 4 Cinemex Diana / Wednesday, 16, 10 pm, Sala 1 Metrópolis / Friday, 18, 4.45 pm, Sala 1 Metrópolis
A ROAD NOT TAKEN is programmed at
Princeton Environmental Film Festival 2011
Screening: Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 4 pm
New solar installation on the presidential home of President Obama’s family by spring 2011.
Probably we’ll never find out if this project had an impact on the administration to put solar back on the White House, but we saw that our constant retelling of the story and our presence on the web since 2006 had some effect.
We hope that our movie helps to understand what Jimmy Carter tried to achieve – more then thirty years ago.
From 4 to 10 December 2010, the 8th edition of the International Environment Film Festival in Kairouan, Tunisia under the motto: «The Future is in Our Hands» is screening A ROAD NOT TAKEN.
A ROAD NOT TAKEN chosen for 34th Duisburg Film Week
one of the festivals in Europe which enjoys a long tradition for documentaries.
Screening: Friday, November 11, 12.30 pm
A ROAD NOT TAKEN official selection at the 3rd edition of MOSTRA DE CIENCIA E CINEMA (October 25 – 30, 2010)
A ROAD NOT TAKEN chosen for PLANET IN FOCUS, the 11th International Environmental Film Festival in Toronto, Canada
Screening: Friday, October 15, 5 pm
In 1979, in a visionary move, President Jimmy Carter installs a set of solar panels on the roof of the White House, to emphasize his commitment to solving the oil crisis of the time. But when Reagan assumes office a year later, the panels are removed, defining America’s attitudes towards power generation and consumption. Three decades later, the filmmakers follow the trajectory of the panels from a dusty warehouse to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the Jimmy Carter Library, interviewing President Carter, his speechwriters and the construction team along the way. In a Brechtian fashion, A Road Not Taken reflects on this pivotal moment in political history, shedding light on our current ideological perspectives. It is impossible not to wonder where we would be if the thinking behind Carter’s solar panels, and all that they symbolized, had been maintained.
By Juana Awad
A ROAD NOT TAKEN chosen for CAMDEN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – one of the leading festivals for documentaries in the US (September 30 – October 3, 2010)
A ROAD NOT TAKEN invited at Criterio first Ambiental Film Fest in Costa Rica
Screening: Saturday, September 25
THE BOSTON GLOBE:
Jimmy Carter’s dream
by Beth Daley on September 13, 2010
It’s been almost a generation since the solar panels Jimmy Carter installed on the White House roof were removed. And they won’t be up again anytime soon — even after one of the original panels was driven to the White House last week.
‘350’ group to return solar panel to White House
by Ethan Andrews on September 9, 2010
The goal of the Unity group’s trip to Washington is not to have the Carter solar panel reinstalled on the White House roof, but to encourage the president to install new solar panels, according to Jason Reynolds, who made the trip with Hemauer and Keller in 2006 and is traveling to Washington with McKibben and company.
This July, 350.org joined with the solar panel company Sungevity to launch a new effort to encourage President Obama to put solar panels on the White House and encourage other world leaders to install panels on their iconic residences. Since then, tens of thousands of people have signed the “Put Solar On It” letter to world leaders.
Screening: Saturday, August 21, 3.30 pm (Carter Center)
Where Did the Carter White House’s Solar Panels Go?
by David Biello on August 6, 2010
One of the 32 solar-thermal panels that captured energy on the roof of the White House more than 30 years ago landed this week at a science museum in China.
It can be heard live on the radio in the Bay Area at Green960am or streaming online internationally at Green960.com. After it airs, the episode will be uploaded to www.anorganicconversation.com and iTunes as a podcast.
“What’s so significant about the Carter solar panels is that … politicians at the time were saying very much the same things you hear politicians saying now about renewable energy, about oil, about priorities, and it really is quite amazing that history repeats itself that way,” Tardif said. “The symbolic aspect of that is very powerful.”
Sunday July, 18, 2010 at 3.30 pm
The Oil Drum: Europe
SOLAR PANELS, JIMMY CARTER, AND MISSED OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE
by Francois Cellier on June 23, 2010
Which road is it that we haven’t taken? Let me start from the beginning.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK
A ROAD NOT TAKEN was selected as the «Movie of the Week» on Swiss Television Network.
Science Magazine 18 June 2010 Vol 328, pp. 1483 – 1484
TAKES ON HUNTERS AND ROADS
In 1979, Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House. Seven years later, Ronald Reagan had them dismantled. Unity College, Maine, later refurbished the 32 panels and used some of them on its cafeteria. Hemauer and Keller’s documentary follows up on their fate. The filmmakers journey from Maine (where many panels remain in a barn), to Washington, DC (where a lack of paperwork initially precludes donating a panel to the Smithsonian Institution), to Georgia (Carter’s presidential library), and back to Washington (where the National Museum of American History formally accepts a panel). Interspersed interviews and film clips fill in some historical details and suggest current perspectives.
A Road Not Taken clearly delivers its principal message, that the United States moved away from the national conservation policy and development of alternative energy sources that Carter desired.
SWISS CINEMA PREMIERE
Starting June 20th (exactly 31 years after the dedication of the White House solar installation) A ROAD NOT TAKEN will get on the screens of several cinemas in Switzerland.
A ROAD NOT TAKEN has been selected at the 13th CinemAmbiente Environmental Film Festival (Torino, Italy) within the International Documentary Competition. CinemAmbiente has become a major date in the environmental film festival calendar, offering a diverse program of film showings, debates, readings and other events to promote environmental awareness and education through cinema in joint cooperation with the National Museum of Cinema.
CinemAmbiente June 1.-6. 2010
WATCHING THE GREEN SCREENS AT THE ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL IN D.C.
Written by Jennifer Prediger, March 26, 2010
A ROAD NOT TAKEN
Written by Jeff, KE9V, January 21, 2009
In 1979 President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar hot water panels on the roof of the White House.
At the panels’ dedication in 1979, Jimmy Carter said:
“This dependence on foreign sources of oil is of great concern to all of us. In the year 2000, this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”
Despite the fact that they had been paid for, and were delivering hot water at no additional cost to the taxpayer or with impact on the planet, the solar hot water panels were removed during President Reagan’s administration in 1986 and placed in storage – apparently, another “road not taken”.
Where are those solar panels now? Come take a look…
Official Google Blog
BACK TO THE ENERGY FUTURE
Alice Ryan, Green Energy Project Manager, January 21, 2009
In 1979 President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar hot water panels on the roof of the White House. Recently a Googler from our Washington D.C. office asked the question, “What ever happened to the Carter panels?” After a little digging, we were able to track down the original panels to Unity College, an environmental college in Maine, and bring one of them back to Washington D.C.
So what ever happened to the panels? It turns out that during President Reagan’s administration the solar hot water panels were removed from the White House in 1986 and placed in storage. In 1992, Unity College located the panels and transferred them from a General Services Administration warehouse to their campus in Maine. After restoration,16 panels provided their cafeteria with hot water for the next 12 years. In cooperation with Unity College, Google was able to bring one of these panels down to our Washington DC office for display throughout the next year.
At the panels’ dedication in 1979, Jimmy Carter stated:
“This dependence on foreign sources of oil is of great concern to all of us. In the year 2000, this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” (To watch video of the dedication, check out this trailer for a movie about the panels).
As we welcome our new U.S. president to office this week, we wanted to share this piece of this history with you. Google is committed to a clean energy future and we hope that you will join us in supporting the creation and adoption of renewable energy technology — what could still be one of the greatest and most exciting adventures for all of us.
Check out these photos of the panels at Unity College and at Google’s Washington DC office.
Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel
Scott Monroe, January 18, 2009
Unity, Google collaborate for ‘green’ display
Thanks to Unity College, one of the original solar panels former President Jimmy Carter put up on the White House has returned home – almost.
The solar panel is on display in the lobby of the Washington, D.C., headquarters of Google, in time for the presidential inauguration Tuesday of Barack Obama. Unity College has had the original 32 Carter solar panels since 1991.
The environmental college and the Internet search-engine company reached a loan agreement to transport the solar panel to highlight the importance of alternative-energy sources for the United States and the possibility of greater support for them under the Obama administration.
“It’s an exciting journey for the panel. It’s about the green economy,” said Rob Constantine, the college’s vice president for advancement. “We want to demonstrate that Maine is at the forefront of that as we talk of real-world, sustainable-energy solutions.”
As part of his economic-stimulus plan, Obama proposes to double the output of alternative energy over the next three years. The Obama administration also has called for 10 percent of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
Coinciding with the solar panel’s arrival is a “green ball,” to be hosted by former Vice President Al Gore on Monday and sponsored in part by Google, welcoming President Obama and his wife, Michelle, and other dignitaries. Mitchell Thomashow, president of Unity College, plans to attend the ball.
Google will tell the story of Unity College and the former White House solar panels, college officials said.
In June 1979, Carter proposed a “new solar strategy” to “move our nation toward true energy security and abundant, readily available energy supplies,” according to the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum in Atlanta, Ga. To set an example – and establish a prominent symbol – for the country, Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House West Wing to heat water for the staff mess and other areas.
At the time, Carter warned, “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”
President Ronald Reagan took the solar panels down in 1986 when the White House roof was repaired.
Flash forward 20 years, when Swiss directors Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller started making a documentary film about the panels as a lead-in to exploring American oil dependency and alternative-energy sources.
In the film, “A Road Not Taken,” the two directors – joined by two Unity College students, Sara Trunzo and Jason Reynolds – load two panels into the back of the students’ pickup truck (modified to run on vegetable-oil diesel) and deliver the panels to the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum in Atlanta, where they remain on display. The film debuted last July at the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville.
Trunzo, a 2008 graduate who is now the college’s community-market coordinator, said the latest journey of a Carter solar panel is “really exciting and not that surprising.”
“I feel like there’s a lot of serendipitous occurrences around the solar panels. It’s been a really great tool, because it gets you excited not just about alternative energy, but about American history as well,” Trunzo said.
Recent news coverage of the documentary film caught the attention of many Internet blogs and, ultimately, of Google officials, who initiated contact with Unity College about the arrangement, Constantine said. Under their agreement, Google has been loaned the panel for one year.
Google sent a truck to load the panel – it’s 6 feet by 3 feet, 6 inches – and it arrived at the D.C. headquarters on Friday, Constantine said.
“The panels are an important piece of American energy history and policy, and we want to be good stewards of the panels. We want to make sure whoever is using them represents what they represent,” Constantine said.
Google spokesman Jamie Yood said his company has invested in alternative energy projects, such as spending $4.5 million to help companies develop renewable energy that costs less than coal and investing millions of dollars in developing plug-in electric vehicles that get 90 miles a gallon.
Yood said Google officials are thrilled to receive the solar panel to highlight the importance of future energy solutions – and the history behind them.
“It’s a fun way to talk about the story of the panels,” Yood said. “We’re excited about it.”