This last weekend (10th and 11th Oct 2020) I was very fortunate to be able to attend Karlin's (full name Karlin Bracegirdle) last ever Living with Solar weekend workshop in Nimbin at the RPC premises. Although I have lived off grid for most of my life, I still learnt a lot, but I thought I would keep that for another article ;)
In this article I want to say thanks and recognise the many people whose lives have been touched by Karlin's no nonsense, friendly, articulate, witty and incredibly informative workshop. I mentioned to her that it 'demystified' the whole solar power process quite a bit for me, and I can say that it also encouraged my understanding of data sheets and spec read-outs (for example wiring charts and read-outs of peak sun hour(PSH)), and gave me a general and further overview of terminology, components, concepts, laws and formulas (Ohm's law and working out the wattage of something, or the amps or volts), with particular attention paid to my individual system and its components- how they work, work together, work better etc.
There were only 6 of us in this last course (4 of them were RPC staff members), and gee I felt lucky to have so much attention to myself: Karlin mentioned she has done over 200 workshops, which at an average attendance rate of 10, means she has helped over 2000 people on their solar power journey- giving away weekends every 2nd month, raising a family, building a house- all that other important stuff at the same time- I take my hat off to a very bright, very strong, inspiring and hard working woman. Karlin's partner and her son also worked at RPC, making it a true family affair for many years.
Karlin used to work 9-5 at RPC, and like she says, it was for the love of the job, and the uniquely 'high percentage of hands-on experience/knowledge within the RPC staff'. Inventions were being made, new products were being constantly tested and developed, and RPC were at the very forefront of the renewable energy sector, one of the first Australian solar companies and certainly one of the longest standing. RPC were so ahead of the game that they were instrumental in creating some of the policies and standards that were formed in the early days of Australian solar, and many of those standard are still used today.
On Karlin's first day of work many many years ago she wrestled a giant carpet snake out of the RPC building; she's a tough woman, and I know she is insisting on spending at least one more day at work at RPC… to teach someone how to make mudbricks to replace the bricks that are falling out of our walls, another of her many talents. Sounds like it might be hard to get rid of Karlin after all her years of dedication- she is still dedicated to the place! That's ok, she is a legend and a champion, and I know I can speak for all of us at RPC when I say she will be sorely missed (if she ever does go).