originally published in the Rapidian
As Artprize officially opened on Wednesday September 22, the procession for Plan Bmade its way across town. Traffic came to a standstill as a motley assortment of drummers, bicyclists, flag wavers, and kids in patchwork clothing pushed and pulled the famous Beerhorst Wonder Wagon through the streets of Grand Rapids. Their destination was the Plan B encampment in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, alongside the Grand River.
Plan B is a working example of alternatives to the infrastructure necessary for a society to function. It examines what options are available when the power grid fails on a large scale, such as the August 2004 outage that left the Great Lakes region scrambling in the dark for several days. Plan B has a generator, battery, and inverter system powered by bikes. Visitors can contribute by pedaling on the system to charge the batteries for later use by the many bands playing at Plan B throughout the two weeks of Artprize.
Water from the Grand River is pumped by bicycle powered siphon into a recycled barrel filled with sand and gravel to filter out biological contaminants for human consumption. Such options are a viable alternative in the event of a catastrophic failure in the municipal water system.
A small aquaculture system is set up onsite to demonstrate how fish can fertilize the plants grown for our food. The plants in turn filter the water for the fish to continue swimming contentedly in their small pond made from a reclaimed plastic tub. This simple system is increasingly becoming more popular on large scale production levels.
Not only does Plan B demonstrate the basic means of sustainable methods of producing food, water, and electricity, but there will be entertainment for the whole family. Puppet shows, bands, and guest speakers are making regularly scheduled appearances throughout the course of Artprize, as well as time slots set aside for open mic performances.
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