|empower us to empower others|
drums for solar
Bruce Alan Rhodes was born in New York City in 1954. Raised in The Todt Hill Projects, he formulated the belief early in life that family, community, and environment were the foundation of a positive world. While studying Architecture and Urban Design at New York Institute of Technology, his mission of being a community organizer and motivator was conceptualized and realized with creation of the first community program startup, The Todt Hill Community Center. Bruce felt that it was of utmost importance to help activate the young community members in which he lived as participants and collaborators. He was 19 then. The vision that materialized at Todt Hill Community Center allowed the youth to plan, organize and manage their own activities at the center. Other significant accomplishments include developing the sports programs for the local youth through the NYC Parks and Recreation Department, starting the tenants’ association and community center with the Staten Island Community Corp, and developing and coordinating a vocational skills program through on-the-job training for NYC Urban Youth Corps.
Seeking to broaden his horizons and continue to explore his passion for community building, Bruce ventured out of the busy city and wandered the United States all the way to Punalu’u Beach Park, Oahu, Hawai’i where he helped organize a beach commune, where locals and international tourists camped in the “Aloha” style (thanks to Omar the Tent Man) for a couple of months. By moving his NYC urban living to Hawaii Beach living, he realized there was more to do, and was eager to continue developing his life philosophy by joining the final piece of the puzzle, the environment. Returning to the continental US in the mid ‘80s Bruce settled in the small ski town of Telluride, Colorado and began Rocky Mountain Cabin living. Bruce met up with some of the early renewable resource pioneers in the field of solar energy where he co-founded, Telluride Energy Solutions.
Upon journeying further west to California in order to learn more about solar energy, his interest in community and the environment was fueled further by continued training and developing expertise in solar and other renewable energy resources. In 2008, Bruce co-founded the Arlene Francis Center for Spirit, Art and Politics and continues to bring people and events together in the spirit of community.
Bruce has met many community collaborators over the course of his extensive career. Most recently, he has collaborated with a group of people from different countries in West Africa to help him develop the latest concept program, Drums For Solar (DFS) focused on intercultural gift exchange for sustainable solar technology. Bruce created a non -profit organization with a structure that was strongly grounded in respecting the cultures of Africa and growing community. His approach is to integrate with the cultures in West Africa, and it is under these terms that cultural gifts including drums are brought here and exchanged in our community. However, this is more than an exchange of goods, it is a pathway to cultural exchange and integration. Bruce's hope is that the person who wishes to acquire a craft is inspired to connect with the maker of the craft , the spirit, the culture so that we can all learn from each other; sharing our humanity.