Wheels on the bus

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Anybody see that brightly painted school bus decked out with solar panels around town last weekend?

My friend Mark Dunagan, who writes for us when he's not too busy lawyering around at his day job, volunteers for a nonprofit organization called VIDA: Volunteers for International Development and Aid. The volunteers go to impoverished communities around the world and help construct basic infrastructure things, like sewer systems and the like. A bunch of the folks involved, including the director, David Levine, are either from Reno or have local ties.

The organization's current project is called Solarize Ghana. Basically, they took this old school bus, painted a big, happy mural on it, and equipped it with everything needed to build solar panels. They're going to drive the bus, now called the SolBus, across the U.S. and then ship it from New York to Africa. Then, they're going to trek around Ghana, building solar panels and bringing electric power to villages that have never had it before.

But first, they drove it around Reno all last weekend, showing it off at places like the farmers' markets and the Nevada Discovery Museum during the day, and at Craft Beer & Wine, Reno Public House and St. James Infirmary at night.

I imagine a lot of locals saw the brightly colored bus and expected them to be selling burgers or burritos out of the thing. But I bet everyone who actually checked it out was as impressed as I was when I got to scope it out on Saturday night. The bus itself is partly solar-powered, which is neat. It's a cool cause and an enthusiastic group of people. They're still raising funds for the project. You can learn more at www.thevida.org.

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