People power

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

Skye Telka is one of those Reno people who has her hand in many organizations and activities, and who seems to know everyone. You'll see her pedaling her bike around town, and her name is associated with many progressive movements including green energy, local food and sustainability. This weekend, Saturday, July 27, she and others plan to host a block party at Plumas Park, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. For information, call her at (775) 848-5763.

So your event is called Cyclectric?

That's our organization. We're about a year and a half old. Our event is bicycle-powered movies in the park.

How did you come to create this group?

My friend Andrew Highison and I were acquainted through local non-profits here in Reno. We kind of came up with an idea of doing a bicycle-powered event. The first thing was bicycle-powered smoothies. So we built this bicycle generator that you can hook up any bicycle to, and we then started doing bicycle-powered smoothies. Then, we had a sound system hooked up, and the kids could hop on and pedal it and see how electricity works, and see that when they stop pedaling, the electricity would stop. Then it really transformed—we really wanted to start doing media events, and so we've done bicycle-powered bands and DJ-fests. Last year, we did a bicycle-powered film festival at Craft Wine and Beer. And then this year, we decided we wanted to do something free and open to the public at Plumas Park.

OK, so what are you doing this year?

This year, we're going to be doing a barbecue starting at 5 at Plumas Park, and then we will be having people hop on and doing music throughout the evening for our sound system. And then we're putting up a sheet on the backstop at Plumas Park, and we're going to be bicycle-powering Ghostbusters?

How fast does a bike have to be going to power something like a movie?

It's a pretty standard easy-going pace. As you turn things on, you can feel the resistance pick up. But the average person can pretty much do a constant of about 70 watts continuously. … It's hard to calculate miles per hour exactly, but just your gentle, flat, around-town pace pretty much. We actually do it with five bikes. We only need four to power the system, but we like having that built-in redundancy that if somebody gets off the bicycle then the whole thing won't quit. You can switch people out, and it's OK, it's not putting all the strain on a few individuals.

So do you go directly to whatever you’re powering or do you go to battery, then to inverter, then to whatever you’re powering?

We avoid batteries, we go from the generator to a capacitor that has about a 30-second charge to an inverter. We've avoided batteries in order to keep that education component because people really like to hop on and pedal something and stop and then realize that they are creating that energy.

So you got a barbecue that starts at 5 p.m. and goes late?

It's pretty much going to be a big block party. It's open to the community. We're going to have barbecues and food and it's just going to be a lot of fun—lawn darts and bocce ball and enjoying this awesome summer weather we have.

How did you come to pick Ghostbusters?

We have a Facebook page and we ended up running the question on our Facebook page and asking everyone who reads it what their favorite summer movie that they'd like to see in the park would be, and Ghostbusters was far and away the number one choice.