CORE Grant Powers Rosybelle the Mobile Maker Space
When 90% of people believe that arts are vital to a well-rounded K-12 education, and only half think that everyone has equal access to the arts, you’ve got a problem. Carbondale Arts saw the challenge and got inspired. What if we took a decommissioned school bus, they wondered, and kitted it out as an arts classroom that we could bring directly to the kids?
Being Carbondale Arts, a change-making community arts leader, they weren’t yet satisfied — bold as their idea was. They pressed on: Imagine if we could bring art and technology together, providing programming that squares up with what kids are already using? Their bright minds envisioned hitting the road with film editing, music composition, sewing, stop animation, and more.
What they were dreaming up was a mobile “maker space.” Fast forward 18 months and that vision would become a tricked out, brightly colored bus known as Rosybelle, honoring the organization’s late director, Ro Mead. But in those early days, still at the drawing boards, there remained one key question: How can we power this idea.
Having previously received a Community Grant from CORE to fund an LED makeover at their facility, Carbondale Arts returned to us with their question. Working together with SunSense Solar, the three teams brainstormed rooftop solar panels as a solution to their power needs. CORE provided a Community Grant of $8,000 to make the panels, batteries and retrofit more affordable for the nonprofit arts organization.
Now covering three-quarters of Rosybelle’s 26-foot roof, the 2,160-watt system provides all interior power for the maker space. That includes power strips with outlets and USB ports that line the workspaces, interior lights, and the pump for the onboard sink. This allows Rosybelle to offer not just traditional arts like painting, drawing and printmaking, but also solar energy education and the computer-based offerings that filled Carbondale Arts’ original dreams.
“The expertise of CORE and SunSense helped us get a very integral piece of the bus — solar power — and stay consistent with the values of our community,” says Rosybelle program director, Kat Rich. “It enables us to power technology that is relevant to kids today.”
Rosybelle launched in April (at CORE’s High Five launch events in Aspen and Carbondale) and has proven to be a very popular lady. In the two short months that Rosybelle has been on the road, she has traversed points from Aspen to Rifle, providing a safe “third space” (complementing school and home) for kids to learn and create. In the upcoming school year, the Rosybelle crew expects to be in Rifle, New Castle and Carbondale schools, plus many afterschool and weekend events, serving over 2,000 youth valleywide.
“The need is much greater than we thought,” says Carbondale Arts’ executive director, Amy Kimberly. “She just brings joy wherever she goes and that’s ultimately what we hoped for.”
Renewable energy and the arts, as it turns out, are natural travel partners and impact makers. Onboard Rosybelle, they are empowering communities with art, one class at a time.