Across the Midwest, small towns are going through green revolutions. They're using wind and solar power and green construction to help their communities survive and thrive.
Rock Port, Missouri
Above the outskirts of a small farming community in northwest Missouri are four massive structures fitted with large blades that cut through the air like the propellers of an airplane. They're wind turbines, and they're capable of providing 100 percent of Rock Port's electricity needs.
"It goes to show what a little can-do attitude can do," says Eric Chamberlain, a Rock Port businessman. In November 2006, Chamberlain decided to investigate the possibility of building a wind farm near his hometown of 1,400 after seeing large energy-producing wind turbines in nearby Iowa. "[Wind power] is environmentally benign, extremely clean and a natural resource. I had no concept at the time about the economics of a wind farm; I had just enough information to be dangerous," Chamberlain says.
Just a few months after Chamberlain began researching the wind speeds in his community, John Deere and Wind Capital Group signed on finance a small wind farm and make his idea a reality.
Rock Port photographer W.C. Farmer documented the construction and completion of the four steel wind turbines and says the project was truly and example of how one person can help change a community for the better. "It's people like Eric Chamberlain, who didn't worry about who took credit for the idea; he just wanted to see it happen. I believe that is the embodiment of the American spirit," Farmer says.
Chamberlain says he just asked the right people the right questions at the right time. His persistence paid off—Chamberlain says the turbines now save the town $50,000 a year in electricity transmission fees and has changed the way people in Rock Port think about energy consumption. "It did draw a lot of attention to the way we use energy, and it also drew attention to the fact that that small communities can take on big tasks and projects and succeed."
Inside Solar Town USA