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The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

It Bears Repeating

Question #1. What comes to mind when you think of a tropical paradise? If you’re like most people, you think of trade winds, sunshine, ocean waves, palm trees, and island hospitality, right? We here on Saipan have all that. Too bad, though, given the present economic situation, that we can’t use any of it to really prosper. The best we can do is invite people to vacation here to bask in the trade winds, tan in the sunshine, surf and sail the ocean waves and sip the water from the coconuts, while enjoying our friendly hospitality and smiles as they do. Yep, that’s the best we can do. Or is it?

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating in a slightly different way to make things clear.

Imagine what a perfect fit it is, and what a powerful story it would make for a paradise island to lead the way in innovations and practices that use natural resources in intelligent ways that preserve paradise.

Imagine, if you will, those same trade winds turning turbines that generate electricity. Imagine that same sunshine shining on solar panels that power homes. Imagine those same ocean waves moving buoys that create power. Imagine if those coconuts and palm trees produced oil that fueled ships and cars.

Imagine, in other words, if we used the very elements of paradise—wind, sun, sea and vegetation—to help move us out of economic downturn and into a new Saipan. And now imagine what a tourist attraction THAT would be! Tourists could proudly stay in homes, travel in vehicles, and eat food cooked on stoves powered by the very sun, sea, wind and greenery that already make this a paradise worth visiting.

And as idealistic as those images may seem, every one of those ideas is already being acted upon right here, right now on Saipan! Let me repeat. The movement to harness solar, wind, wave and bio-fuel energy is already happening here on Saipan. Let’s take a closer look:

The ‘Silent’ Generator: A first step toward energy independence.

What if you could harness those natural resources to reduce your CUC bill, or better yet, become totally independent of utility company power? Imagine you had a set of batteries in your home that could provide power for your comfort in the event of a blackout or other disruption in electricity service, but could then be later upgraded to power your entire home! That’s what Fred Reiman, a resident of As Matuis, is doing.

[Excerpt from The New Saipan Field Report #2]

"....Fred showed us his battery bank and inverter housed in a small room built on the side of his house. He has eight deep cycle golf cart batteries, 6 volts each, configured with two banks of four. Each battery in a bank is connected in series to give a total of 24 volts, and the two banks are connected in parallel. His inverter is 3500 watts of true sine wave (the preferred wave form for home systems). There is a transfer/control system incorporated with his inverter. It "reads’’ the current coming in from CUC. If the CUC current is off or even just of poor quality like you find in "brown out" situations, it will shut off CUC power and switch over to his battery bank without interruption. His battery banks have enough energy stored to power his house for several hours while waiting for CUC to come back on and stabilize. When it does, his control system seamlessly switches back to CUC power.

As of now, Fred charges his batteries with CUC power. However, he’s waiting for a part for a Lister™ generator he has in a side room of his house. When the part arrives, he will power up his generator and be able to generate his own power and charge his batteries without the assistance of CUC. Imagine that!

Fred also has other options for charging his batteries. He could use solar panels, wind generators, or other renewable energy sources. In fact, he is planning to use waste vegetable oil (he could also use coconut oil) as the fuel in his Lister engine, making it a renewable energy source. This is another bonus to the Lister engine. Its simple design facilitates the use of vegetable oil (i.e. biofuel) for fuel.

This system (the battery bank, inverter, and controls) is what we call a "silent generator" and a system that could very well be a first step to energy independence.”

Coconut Oil Production

Now let’s imagine the use of biofuel on a national level. Biofuels are fuels produced from biomass—recently living organisms, biodegradable waste, agricultural products, plants (corn, soy beans, cane), straw, timber, manure, rice husks, sewage, and food leftovers and other renewable sources. It also includes methane generated by landfills. We’ve got all that here on Saipan. So imagine, if you will, if Saipan were to begin producing, say, coconut oil as a biofuel.

The New Saipan’s Coconut Fuel Initiative provides the best example of the myriad benefits we envision. In this project, we would promote affordable, easy-to-use technologies to empower local residents to produce their own oil. But that’s not all. For production on a larger scale, coconuts from other locations (the Northern Islands, perhaps) could be processed at the point of origin, or shipped to a processing plant on Saipan. And beyond the actual oil that is produced, the coconut byproducts (husks, water, meat, etc.) could “fuel” a host of viable industries creating products that would offer employment as well as additional entrepreneurial opportunity.

To summarize, through strategies like this, such projects could:

- provide employment as well as entrepreneurial opportunity;

- offer alternative uses and therefore increased demand for locally grown crops;

- encourage use of non-resource-depleting, readily-available sources of energy;

- develop ancillary industries and livelihoods as a result of by-products production;

- reduce reliance on fossil fuel;

- stimulate local economy; and

- provide a model for others to follow! Imagine that!

The Opportunity

Those are just two examples of how to use paradise’s natural resources for prosperity. We still haven’t touched on the use of geothermal energy, wave power or microalgae in this scenario. So what might an enterprising entrepreneur do with this information? Well, he or she might import, sell and install solar panels, sell and install wind turbines, produce coconut oil or process used vegetable oil to run diesel generators, retro-fit car engines to run on biofuels, and the list goes on and on.

These ideas and opportunities exist right here, right now on Saipan. People are doing already doing it. (They understand that it’s just a matter of time until things turn around, and they’re positioning themselves now). As these practices become more widespread—and they will—they will help generate revenue for the island, encourage entrepreneurial innovation and investment, provide employment, encourage reduced dependency on costly sources of energy, cut household expenses, improve the standard of living, and give us something more to love about this paradise we call Saipan! And, it’s worth repeating: it’s already happening!

Question #2. Now what comes to mind when you think of a tropical paradise? For more, visit

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Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!--Walt


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