One way to promote solar cooking is to organize a solar cooking event, to help get the message out to more people that this is an idea whose time has come. An event can be as simple as arranging to display a couple of cookers and hand out flyers at a Farmer's Market to a large organized event that puts dozens or hundreds of cookers on a Capitol lawn. People have organized cooker demonstrations, presentations, displays, solar cooking contests, youth projects, and more. Any such event can help to make more people more aware of this wonderful and effective technology.
If you have never organized an event, this page may give you help in getting started, and those of us who have already organized other events may find new ideas. If you have helped to organize events and can add advice or ideas, please feel free to do so.
Contacting the Press
If you are going to the trouble to organize an event, make sure you let your local/regional press know about it. Press releases should be clearly and simply written, never forgetting the famous four Ws— Who (who is sponsoring and who to contact for further information), What (details about what will take place), Where, and When.
Advertising Your Event
If you are organizing a solar cooking event, make sure you get the word out. Many newspapers and newsletters have community calendars that list community events, often at no charge (your press release may get reporters to interview you or attend your event, but will not necessarily put you on a community calendar, which is sometimes a separate department, so talk to the paper to make sure all your bases are covered). Many radio stations also announce community events at no charge. Posters are good, too. Vary the font size (biggest/boldest for the most important information), leave some blank spaces here and there to make it easier to read, and make sure you include the four W's! Include the name of the town where the event will be held. People in your town may know where "Riverside Park" or "Upside Hall" is, but word of your event can travel farther than you realize, and people a few towns away may not know what town the facility or park is in.
Email is another good way to network your event, if you have solar contacts in your area or know people who might be interested. You can generate a list of networkers by having people sign up at your events. Word of mouth is very important, too. Talk to people about your event every chance you get. If you can make small handouts that hit the highlights of the event (aim for six or eight to a page, which is reasonably economical) to give people when you talk to them, they will be more likely to remember to add your event to their calendar when they get home. And make sure you add it to our Calendar_of_events here at the Solar Cooking Archive Wiki!
Types of Events
Solar Cooker Construction Workshops
Depending on where you live many companies will help with some materials for these workshops if you are willing to post a sign saying something along the lines of "Sponsored by ... " and let people know who helped with the materials.
Go to a lumber yard and ask if they will donate some wood or metal sheeting ect... as you are working to promote the use of their products to construct these solar cookers and will be having a demonstration event.
I've personally asked for donations successfully and that will help with the costs of the supplies for your event.
Next you can contact local groups such as 4-H or other local groups you might have and ask if they would be interested in assisting with the event. Many of these groups will enjoy participating in something like this. If you have access to a copy machine you can offer printed certificates on participation in solar energy workshops to those who help. This is a great incentive plus they will learn about a skill that can help so many people.
In the US there are school groups such as FFA who would enjoy participating in construction workshops as they are learning that kind of thing anyway. Just a few ideas to help. Construction workshops can be solo or involved with other groups. Why not get a group to sponsor a solar cooker and send them to a country who needs them most? Or an area of your country that could use solar cookers.
Solar Cooking Demonstrations
One of the best ways to increase interest in solar cooking is to give people an opportunity to see foods cooking in solar cookers and then taste the food. If possible, it is great to showcase both homemade and commercial cookers, to give people an idea of some of the ranges of possibility. It is also good to have more than one food if possible. Keep in mind that nothing seems to impress people as much as being able to cook meat or poultry with sunshine, but you do need to practice good sanitation and make sure your meat or poultry reaches a safe temperature, so use a thermometer if you are not absolutely confident you know how to tell when meat is thoroughly cooked. Disjointed chicken wings (aka party wings—use the two meaty sections and save the tips for stock) are one of the more economical ways to serve small portions of poultry, if you can find them on sale. There is a good party wings recipe in Appetizers. Vegetable soup is another good demo food, since vegetarians can eat it and most meat-eaters will eat it. A Gallon of Great Solar Soup in Soup is one good possibility. Cornbread, whether homemade or from a mix, is another winner, since it does well in solar cookers, can be served in small sample portions, and most people like it. People like samples of sweets, too, so consider one or more of the cakes or rice puddings or other treats from Desserts, if you don't already have favorites of your own. It is best to use recipes or mixes that you have used before and are already familiar with.
You need to pay good attention to sanitation when you are feeding samples to lots of people. If you won't have running water handy for frequent table wiping and hand-washing, have antibacterial hand wipes and counter wipes handy. The primary cause of food poisoning is dirty hands handling the food. Be especially careful to wash hands (or use wipes) before and after handling raw meat, and never use utensils that were used on raw meat or poultry for anything else until they have been thoroughly washed.
Indoor Presentations About Solar Cooking
Clubs, churches, and organizations that have a humanitarian or environmental focus are good possibilities for indoor presentations. Is there a church in your community that is looking for a new humanitarian focus? A Rotary Club that is not yet involved in promoting solar cooking? Some other service club that might want to follow Rotary's lead in promoting solar cooking to make a difference in the world? An environmental group that has not yet focused on this wonderful technology? These are all good possibilities for arranging presentations, but many of these presentations will be indoors.
Presenting solar cooking indoors is more challenging than presenting it out in the sunshine. Set up some cookers anyway, even though they won't be working, so people can see what they look like. If possible, include both commercial and homemade models, so people can see some of the various means by which it is possible to cook with sunshine. Try to include one of the ultra-easy homemade cookers, such as an SPC or ROB or Windshield Shade Cooker, so your audience can see that solar cooking can be accomplished very simply. Since you can't show food actually cooking, try to include video or slides that show cookers working and show solar cooked foods, and if your presentation is slanted towards the humanitarian or environmental aspects, make sure your visuals also include some pictures of women in deforested areas carrying big bundles of wood and pictures illustrating aspects such as indoor smoke. If at all possible, have some sort of solar food for people to sample, even if it is just small tastes of soup or small pieces of bread or cake. Make sure you have a handout telling people where they can go online to learn more. Try to find out what the standard of dress is for the organization's meetings and aim for the neat, clean middle. You want people to concentrate on your presentation, not your too-casual or too-dressy outfit.
Solar Cooking Contests
Plays, Skits, or Other Performance Arts Incorporating Solar Cooking
Visual Displays About Solar Cooking
Visual Displays can be great for piggy-backing onto another event. For example, you might easily get permission to set up a small display concerning solar cooking in the lobby of a theater showing an environmental film or documentary. A small table (or even a TV tray) can hold a presentation board with posters, fact sheets, graphics, etc, and you can have brochures or other information for people to take arranged on the table.
Selling Solar Cooked Foods as a Fundraiser for Solar Cooking
The EZ-3 Solar Cooker is an ideal design for youth projects, since it is relatively easy to make and works very well. SharonID's Solar Project Soup, from the Soup section of Recipes was designed for youth projects with the EZ-3.
Youth projects can be fun and rewarding, and some of those young people will be doing things like volunteering for Peace Corps or other service organizations in a few years. If solar cooking is already second nature to them, this will be a very good thing for the spread of this excellent technology. Young people are fascinated to learn that it is possible to cook foods with sunshine. They like gadgets, so if your demo materials include some digital thermometers, especially the kind where you just point it at the object from close by, this will further help to catch their interest and prove that these things really are getting hot. If the time period or setting does not allow for constructing cookers and you are just giving information and a general demonstration of the technology, the Kettle Grill Variation (scroll down) of the Windshield Shade Cooker, which can crank out a plate of nachos or a quesadilla in 10 minutes makes a big impression. If they will be viewing cookers in action, either request that they bring sunglasses or start a collection of inexpensive loaners (some businesses, after a certain length of time, will give away non-prescription sunglasses that pile up in their lost and found).