SUNTEX Mendoza

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2909 E Arkansas Ln Suite C,

Arlington, TX 76010

817-841-9632

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SUNTEX Appoints Megan Brannen as New Chief Executive Officer

SUNTEX

SUNTEX CEO: Megan Brannen

NEWS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

Dallas, Texas, July 15, 2022. SUNTEX announced today that Megan Brannen of Austin, Texas has been appointed the new CEO of the company. An experienced business leader and developer, Brannen will succeed Alejandra Mendoza and assume responsibilities on July 15. After almost 4 years as CEO, Mendoza will now serve in the company as Managing Director.

Megan Brannen worked as VP of Operations of another Texas solar company back in 2017 for two years. Before that, she worked as a Consultant with Deloitte Consulting, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Health and Sanitation in Guatemala.

“It was immediately clear that Brannen was the right fit to be my successor and lead the company to new heights,” said Alejandra Mendoza, Co-founder and Managing Director.

“We’ve (Jose and Ally, Co-founders of SUNTEX) been aware of her skills and ability to stay on top of the continuous changing solar processes, we have known her work before she joined SUNTEX as our Executive Administrator and we know she will lead us well in the next chapter for our company.”

As Executive Administrator, Megan really helped solidify the vision for SUNTEX. Hiring new members, and creating training and onboarding materials, she helped to shape company leaders and train them in how we at SUNTEX do honest business within the solar industry. For more information on her background, check out our ‘About Me’ page here: https://suntexllc.com/team/megan-brannen/, and her Linked In Profile, here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-brannen-86522848/.

She is gifted not only in servant leadership, but also has key organizational and project management skills that have allowed her to tackle multiple projects and grow this company organically since she came on board in 2020.

While at (other companies), Megan Brannen made a number of improvements to the supply chain that led to increased savings, and launched a range of new services, increasing revenue by 40%.

SUNTEX

About SUNTEX, LLC

SUNTEX LLC is a family-owned company based out of North Texas. With an emphasis on high-quality solar power with the highest level of customer service, we’re dedicated to providing the best energy solution and experience to our customers.

Media Contact:

Ally Mendoza, Managing Director of SUNTEX

[email protected]

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SUNTEX Updates: Thank you to Ally and Jose Medoza, and their Journey to Oklahoma!

SUNTEX Mendoza

Mendoza Family: The Heart of SUNTEX

Pues, que puedo decir? Les agradezco mucho a Alejandra y Jose de SUNTEX.

This fall, the Mendoza family starts a new adventure to Oklahoma, and will also be accompanied by their four children. While they will still of course be Board members of SUNTEX LLC, and will continue to oversee the administration of this incredible company, but they will also be passing the torch to someone who has worked with them (and with you all, dear readers) for years – Blog Author and former Executive Administrator, Megan Brannen. For more on her background, please feel free to check out our former highlight, here: https://suntexllc.com/team/megan-brannen/.

Megan has worked passionately and ardently to help SUNTEX grow organically – while putting a few of the nuts and bolts in place behind the scenes – and will continue to support the team in her new capacity as CEO of SUNTEX. Her knowledge of the solar industry, specifically in commercial and residential operations, as well as the research she has conducted to understand the renewables industry at large uniquely qualifies her in this role.

Additionally, because of her background experience working in Consulting for Deloitte Consulting, LLC, as well as her experience as a former Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), she is not only organized, but also gifted in solving problems, in Spanish.

SUNTEX Mendoza

SUNTEX CEO: Megan Brannen

Please do Congratulate her when you see her! She is very excited for what’s to come for SUNTEX in 2022, and beyond.

So far this year, we’ve had the opportunity to attend events such as the ACORE Inaugural Accelerate Member Forum in March, where we met with several small companies – and much larger companies – currently working in renewable energy across the United States. In mid-May, Alejandra and Megan had the chance to attend the Clean Power Conference and hear from industry leaders and policy makers that more renewable infrastructure was on the horizon, as well as potential funding sources which would enable better equality in terms of implementation.

That’s where we would like to help. Todos de nuestros empleados y/o contratistas hablan español. Lo se, que el acento mío tiene que mejorarse bastante todavía, pero es cierto que puedo hablar y escribir español a veces. Básicamente, nos gustaría ser el proveedor de energía solar número 1 en Texas, Nuevo México y Colorado para los hispanohablantes. Nuestro negocio creció desde la idea que todos deben tener acceso al energía renovable, y sostenible también, con Servicio al Cliente mejor que lo demás. Eso es la visión de SUNTEX que crecieran sus fundadoes, Alejandra Olguin Mendoza y Jose Ismael Mendoza, y por eso, seguimos adelante.

This year we’re looking to continue to grow the business and expand training for our team, as well as our customers. We’ve got a fantastic team behind us whom are poised behind our Sales Team Manager, Martha Mavita, to educate primarily Spanish-speakers on how to complete an energy assessment in your home, and what steps you can take to mitigate your carbon footprint. Our team is well versed in product knowledge, industry knowledge, and most importantly, how to save customers money long-term.

Only time will tell what the future holds for us, but before stepping into this role, I know the entire team at SUNTEX, and likely several of our customers as well, would like to thank the Mendoza family for everything they have done to bring us to this next moment. Ally and Jose have worked tirelessly for over 20 years in Construction and Project Management, and for the past 5 years in the solar industry in Texas.

Having worked alongside them, I know they can tell you firsthand what an exciting and cumbersome journey it has been! Again and again they have proven their ability to lead their team-members to become leaders themselves, solve complex and unique problems in terms of customer service, and really deliver on the promise to serve others better than they would serve themselves. Working alongside them for the past three years at SUNTEX, I am incredibly grateful that they have asked me to step into their giant, strategic shoes and take the next step in my career with SUNTEX. I am so very grateful, and only have the future to prove it. Thank you for this opportunity.

SUNTEX

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Weather or not, Spring is Here!

Weather Spring Equinox

Happy Equinox Day: The first day of Spring is Here! Technically, this year the first day of Spring occurred on 3/20/2022 – even though as we saw last year, it was on the twenty-first (https://suntexllc.com/spring-has-officially-sprung/). Why the difference? For that answer, I’ll turn the online version of the Farmer’s Almanac (check it out, here: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/spring-equinox-first-day-spring).

As the article within this link will attest, the first day of spring changes because…

“Essentially, our hours of daylight—the period of time each day between sunrise and sunset—have been growing slightly longer each day since the winter solstice in December, which is the shortest day of the year (at least in terms of light).

Even though we know that after December 21st, the days start getting steadily longer, we still see more darkness than light over the course of a day in those three months leading up to spring. The vernal equinox marks the turning point when daylight begins to win out over darkness.

At this moment, the direct rays of the Sun are shining down on the equator producing the effect of equal day and night (give or take a few minutes, see below).  After the vernal equinox, the direct rays of the Sun migrate north of the Equator (with hours of daylight steadily growing longer) until they finally arrive at the Tropic of the Cancer (latitude 23.5 degrees north)” (https://www.farmersalmanac.com/spring-equinox-first-day-spring).

Keep in mind that this specific set of facts about the Earth’s orbit around the sun apply to the Northern hemisphere – the Southern hemisphere would then, in turn (ha!), experience the same phenomenon of the days getting longer, following the autumn/winter equinoxes.

Though the Texas weather might fool us into believing that winter is not yet over, keep in mind that warmer days are just around the corner! I hope you have started planning and planting your spring garden, and made a plan to keep cool this summer, particularly as energy prices and demand start to climb. Should you have any questions about the energy efficiency in your home, feel free to give us a call today.

Either way, we hope you have a Happy Spring!

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Tax Season is Just Around the Corner

Tax Season

Funny Memes That Will Get You Through Tax Season, Photo Credit: https://www.ranker.com/list/tax-season-memes/nathandavidson

Tax Season is upon us – the countdown has begun! While it’s not nearly as exciting as Christmas season and determining naughty and nice certainly seems if not inappropriate, perhaps just logistically improbable.

Don’t let this be you (see meme)! All joking aside, I sincerely hope you don’t have a ruff year this tax season, and to help I’ve added a little information below. Please check out the links but also consult your tax advisor with any specific questions!

Of course, one thing that I think is fair to say, is that the earlier you file, the better. What’s not to love about money in your pocket? Or, in at least not delaying the inevitable, should you owe money in taxes at the end of the year.

Either way, there is one thing worth taking a look at each year – and that’s the Solar Federal Investment Tax Credit (https://www.seia.org/initiatives/solar-investment-tax-credit-itc).

Tax Season

Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) Stepdown, Photo Credit: https://www.seia.org/initiatives/solar-investment-tax-credit-itc

Of course, the earlier to file the better. What’s not to love about money in your pocket? Or, in at least not delaying the inevitable, should you owe money in taxes at the end of the year. However, there is one thing worth taking a look at each year – and that’s the Solar Federal Investment Tax Credit (https://www.seia.org/initiatives/solar-investment-tax-credit-itc).

According to the link above, from trusted Industry Experts, SEIA.org – the Federal ITC is 26% in 2022, and rolling down [currently] to 22% next year; take a look for yourself: https://www.seia.org/initiatives/solar-investment-tax-credit-itc

Don’t even get me started on column 3 – the projected Solar ITC in 2024. Residential Solar will have a 0% Federal Tax Credit in just two years?!!

Of course not! However, it’s up to us [insert Solar Industry and/or Energy Customers/Consumers, alike] to ask for an increase in the Federal and State Solar Investment Tax Credits, and maybe more importantly, Tax Incentives.

Please note that I do not have my CPA license, and cannot and will not provide any tax advice, however I will say that 26% appears to be > 22% and certainly > 0% of the total cost of the purchase and installation of a solar system.

That’s all I’ll say for now, except one more thing – Senate and Representatives capable of advocating FOR renewable energy, which would greatly benefit the state they’re in…

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

TEXAS

There are also local incentives, but those will more likely come from either your utility provider or the jurisdiction you live in. Of course, these can change quite often – at least annually, and possibly per season – so be sure to check out the following DSIRE link, as well as any local resources you’re aware of:

I hope this post helps you navigate Tax Season, or at least know the right questions to ask your CPA and/or online Tax Support network. If you like the idea of installing solar panels on your home, but don’t think you’ll be ready for at least a couple more years, please do call your local reps and ask for their support in renewables.

Renewable technology has evolved to be cheaper than ever before – and we need to deploy them if we’re going to leave the world in better shape than we found it. So if you’re not ready to “go solar” today, no sweat – please check us out in a couple of years, and be sure to call you State/City reps in the meantime to increase Federal/State/Local Tax Incentives in your area!

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Marching into Spring with A Blume and Aplomb

March SpringHappy First day of March! I’ll do my best to keep the marching puns to a minimum but unfortunately for you all, that does not mean none will occur.

While we will continue to celebrate Black American history all year long, there is a lot to celebrate in March as well! This month we celebrate Women’s Appreciation month as well as the first day of spring (Sunday, March 20th), Saint Patrick’s Day and if you’re creative (or one of the writers at Spruce.com) – many more, check out a few others here: https://www.thespruce.com/special-days-and-observances-in-march-1448890.

Along with the holidays mentioned above, with the season officially changing in March from winter to spring, we’ll dig back into energy usage in the home and how that may change in the coming months. We’ll probably also get into a few DIY home and gardening projects, not to mention organic gardening tips; along ways to save money on home projects big and small. We’ve explored a few of these topics some in the past – feel free to browse them here:

Energy Usage: https://suntexllc.com/energy-usage-around-the-world/

DIY Home/Gardening Projects: https://suntexllc.com/home-gardens-and-cold-fronts/

Composting and Organic Gardening Tips: https://suntexllc.com/cheating-death/

However, this spring we’ll also start to get a little more detailed and pull in additional sources to better understand the subject matter pertaining to all things home improvement, particularly as they involve energy usage/storage and other energy and money-saving tips.

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What Have We Learned during Black History Month, February 2022?

Black History Month

Black History Month in America encompasses so much beautiful and tragic history, that it can be difficult to process and recall our favorite moments from American history or remember what kind of incredible feats were accomplished despite incredible odds, only to be forgotten in March.

While this list is not nearly complete, and should not deter you from learning more, here is a brief summary of some of the highlights from this month’s blog posts, particularly as they pertain to African American accomplishments in the field of environmentalism, key inventions, green-altruism, and the truth about the origins of the “farm to table” phenomenon.

Black Americans have been instrumental to sustainable development of American culture, cuisine, infrastructure, computer software, and definitely in the development of the environmental industry. From Mr. Latimer in the mid-19th century, to Reynolds work today, and everyone in between, it looks like we’ve covered a wide range of topics from inventions in lighting and electricity, to manufacturing and engineering, to food conservation and preservation practices in the US. To learn more about the specifics, feel free to peruse this month’s blog posts! Published blogs can of course be found here:

To learn more about Black history, American history, or other interesting facts we’ve reviewed this month, please check out the sources from within several of the February blog links so you’re able to learn American History from Black Authors, and hopefully get one step closer to a better understanding of our collective history, in this country that we all call ‘home’.

I want to thank SUNTEX for allowing me the flexibility and freedom to explore this topic openly this month, and for continuing to support/lead me in my work in fostering and understanding equality in environmentalism. Please continue to follow this blog and reach out with any questions you may have for us if you’re interested in learning more about the topics we explore. Thank you for being avid readers!

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American Cuisine: Farm to Table, Part 3 of Many

Modern Chefs and their celebration of Black American cuisine is nothing short of a miracle. Recipes that stem from generational knowledge and cooking and farming techniques, is not something that everyone can or does take advantage of – for example, how many times have you bought groceries, planned out particular meals, and then ordered a pizza instead of cooking it at home?

Please keep in mind this is nothing against pizza, which should be ordered as much as you like within reason, or other types of cuisine that perhaps you haven’t attempted yet – however the art of preserving food from your garden, keeping it safely until ready for consumption, and then using everything you can to mitigate waste while providing a delicious/nutritional meal is not a new concept, just a forgotten one.

Lucky for us, there are more chefs than ever before trying to really document and preserve the cooking styles of African Americans, and give credit where credit is due.

American Cuisine: Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi

‘Taste the Nation’ with Padma Lakshmi, Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/series/taste-the-nation-with-padma-lakshmi

American Cuisine: ‘Taste the Nation’

If you have read along in this blog previously, you might have picked up on the fact that I’m a huge fan of Top Chef (https://www.bravotv.com/top-chef), and while there are plenty of places online I could look up to find American culinary influencers – as we have explored the past couple of days (check out previous blogs here: https://suntexllc.com/american-cuisine-farm-to-table-part-1-of-many/, https://suntexllc.com/blog-american-cuisine-farm-to-table-part-2-of-many/) – I do have to say that Padma Lakshmi’s new show, ‘Taste the Nation’ (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12244950/), does a better job of highlighting modern-day American Chefs than I ever could.

Gullah Geechee People: Architects of American Cuisine

Gullah Geechee People, Architects of American Cuisine, Photo Credit: gullahgeecheecorridor.org/

I highly recommend you check the show out for several reasons, but I will say that in comparison to Top Chef, she does do a better job of “welcoming more people into the kitchen, rather than kicking them out,” as Naomi Tomky says in her article on thekitchn.com, titled, ‘Watch the Gullah Geechee Episode of Padma’s New Show for Free Right Now’ (https://www.thekitchn.com/gullah-geechee-padma-hulu-youtube-23050729). In this episode, episode 4 of ‘Taste the Nation,’ Padma Lakshmi interviews several chefs within the South Carolina, Charleston Sea Islands, region and starts to learn more about the historical roots of cooking in this region.

Among the people she meets and highlights within the show include:

For more information about the Gullah Geechee and cultural cuisine, feel free to check out a few more sources (for example, here: https://gullahgeecheecorridor.org/thegullahgeechee/, https://marshviewcommunityorganicfarm.com/).

Gullah Geechee, American Cuisine

Gullah Geechee People, Architects of American Cuisine, Photo Credit: gullahgeecheecorridor.org

For example, GullahGeecheeCorridor.org has this to say about the Gullah Geechee, Southern American diet:

“FOODWAYS: The traditional Gullah  Geechee diet consisted of items available locally such as vegetables, fruits, game, seafood, livestock; items imported from Europe, items imported from Africa during the slave trade (okra, rice, yams, peas, hot peppers, peanuts, sesame “benne” seeds, sorghum and watermelon), and food introduced by Native Americans such as corn, squash, tomatoes and berries. Rice became a staple crop for both Gullah Geechee people and whites in the southeastern coastal regions.

Making use of available food (or rations), making a little go a long way, supplementing with fish and game, leftovers from butchering and communal stews shared with neighbors were African cultural practices.  African cooking methods and seasonings were also applied in Gullah Geechee homes and plantation kitchens.  Because plantation cooks were primarily enslaved women, much of the food today referred to as “Southern” comes from the creativity and labor of enslaved cooks.” (link here: https://gullahgeecheecorridor.org/thegullahgeechee/).

 

For more information about Black Cuisine, and/or the origins of the Farm to Table movement, feel free to check out the sources  mentioned in the past few days blog posts – added here, again, for reference (in order of appearance in blog posts):

 

Otherwise, I’m sure we’ll visit this topic again in the near future, hence the title, “American Cuisine: Farm to Table, Part 3 of Many” because you truly cannot truly study the farm-to-table movement in the United States, or around the world for that matter, without paying homage to those that came before today’s modern movement, including Native Americans from North to South America, Canada to Argentina, nor without being grateful to the African American community for the preservation of the farm-to-table technique of food conservation and culture.

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American Cuisine: Farm to Table, Part 2 of Many

In yesterday’s blog post we briefly explored the origins of the farm-to-table movement within Native American culture – check it out here if you’re interested: https://suntexllc.com/american-cuisine-farm-to-table-part-1-of-many/.

In today’s blog post, we explore the influence Black chefs had on American cuisine – building upon some of the very traditions that Native Americans had established decades prior – and thanks to the incredible research of culinary historian, Diane M. Spivey (http://www.migration-of-african-cuisine-global.com/), we can glean some pretty good insights into how these cooking techniques and recipes became American staples.

Farm to Table: Diane Spivey

Diane Spivey, Culinary Historian, Photo Credit: Upittpress.org

Per an excerpt her article on BlackPast.org, “TRANSATLANTIC FOOD MIGRATION: THE AFRICAN CULINARY INFLUENCE ON THE CUISINE OF THE AMERICAS”:

“The story of the African culinary past begins with “Lucy” and East Africa, the cradle of humankind and civilization.  Over thousands of years East African cuisine and culture slowly migrated to every other part of the African continent, diversifying and establishing new concepts, while retaining basic aspects and characteristics of the old.  Throughout the continent, prosperity arose out of superior agricultural environments and eventually the transcontinental trade and commerce in agricultural and other goods first to Asia and eventually to Europe and the Americas.

East coast cuisine and culture transplanted itself by means of explorers, merchants, travelers, and seamen bound for India, Indonesia, China, Southeast Asia, and Japan.  Spices sold and purchased at East African trading ports and in Indonesian and Southeast Asian markets would dominate the delicious flavors of creative cooks.  The Dravidians of southern India and the Khmers of Southeast Asia (modern Cambodia and Thailand), are two of numerous ancient Eastern civilizations that still bear many African culinary and cultural imprints.

Africa’s East and West Coast cultures made their indelible culinary marks through exploration, migration, and trade expeditions on the Olmecs and Mayans of Mexico, the Chavin of Peru, the Native American Mound Builders, the Caribs of St. Vincent, and other indigenous cultures in the Americas, and these marks were made long before the so-called discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. 

Migration and trade between the Americas and Africa had made the exchange and transplanting of foodstuffs between the three continents quite common.  In other words, the African culinary influence on the Americas began long before the trans-Atlantic slave trade.” https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/trans-atlantic-food-migration-the-african-culinary-influence-on-the-cuisine-of-the-americas/

While I would like to do my best to contribute to her words, and not copy + paste her entire article within this blog, I have to say that there is a lot of fascinating material within this specific article by Ms. Spivey, that bears reading. For example, did you know the following?

“The last stage of this culinary diaspora was the forced migration of Africans to the Americas through the slave trade, beginning in the 15th century, which brought numerous culinary artists and expert agriculturalists to the Atlantic coast stretching from Argentina to Nova Scotia.  The continual influx and steady increase of Africans into the Caribbean and South America at the height of the human bondage trade ironically constantly rejuvenated the African cultural input, and fostered a culinary revolution under the influence of Africans that would permeate every aspect of cooking and cuisine in rural and urban areas of every country in the Americas. 

Africans who were shipped directly to areas such as Louisiana and South Carolina, as well as those who endured the “seasoning” process in the Caribbean islands and were then transferred to the American South, all positioned their culinary standards throughout the Southern states.

West African cooks made certain that all fish, meat, vegetable, and beans and rice dishes were heavily seasoned with hot peppers and spices, such as Guinea grains, or melegueta, spicy cedar (called atiokwo in the Ivory Coast—its seeds are roasted, ground and used in soups or with leafy vegetables), tea bush (known as an-gbonto in Sierra Leone, its fragrant leaves are used to flavor meat dishes, vegetable, egusi and palm nut soups), African locust bean (harvested, boiled and fermented to produce dawadawa, an indispensable condiment in Nigerian and Cameroonian cuisine), and West African black pepper (fukungen to the people of The Gambia and Senegal), to name just a few. 

Several oils were used in preparing West African dishes, such as groundnut, or peanut (which is sometimes preferred in stews), melon seed, sesame seed (gingelly), coconut, corn, shea butter, and palm, which remains the favorite in West Africa due to the reddish-orange color it imparts to foods.

Both these specific foods and the preparation and cooking methods came with the enslaved people to North and South America.  The cooking methods included frying, boiling/simmering, roasting and steaming (foods are first wrapped in banana, plantain, miraculous berry, cocoyam leaves, or corn sheaths) and baking, or combinations of two or three methods. Broiling has been added in the modern era.” https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/trans-atlantic-food-migration-the-african-culinary-influence-on-the-cuisine-of-the-americas/

I know there are a lot of direct quotes here, however I fully recommend you go directly to the link above and read the article for yourself! The research and understanding of African cuisine in the Americas (North,Central, and South) is demonstrably impactful, and well-documented within Diane M. Spivey’s work within.

While this historical context is significant to the development of African American cuisine and modern American cuisine, you don’t have to dig too much further into American history to learn that many of our favorite foods today were invented by Black chefs.

Farm to Table, American Cuisine: Potato Chip

George Crum, Native American/African American Chef, Photo Credit: WildBerryLodge.com

Whether born out of necessity in feeding large groups of people as inexpensively as possible during the harrows of slavery, or through something more positive such as an innovative solution to soil erosion, Black Americans have created the foundation of what is today “Southern cuisine” in America. Thus, both today’s and tomorrow’s blog posts will focus on the tastes that define American food, that were created by Black chefs.

George Crum, Inventor of the Potato Chip

Ever had a potato chip? That delicious salty snack is all thanks to chef George Crum, who “unintentionally created the potato chip during the summer of 1853. They were made in response to a customer who sent back their fried potatoes after complaining they were too thick”  (https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/work-money/g30877473/african-american-inventors/?slide=1).

To learn more about his remarkable life, read on here: https://lemelson.mit.edu/resources/george-crum.

George Washington Carver, Inventor of Peanut Butter

Farm to Table, American Cuisine

George Washington Carver, Inventor and agricultural scientist, Photo Credit: New Scientist.com

Thanks to Oprah’s list of “14 Black Inventors that changed American Life” we also know who is responsible for the creation of the wonder-food that is peanut butter: George Washington Carver.

According to this list, he was not only responsible for Peanut Butter, but also “As an agricultural chemist, in an effort to increase the profitability of sweet potatoes and peanuts (which thrived in the South as opposed to dwindling cotton supply), Carver began conducting experiments in 1896 and created 518 new products from the crops. They include ink, dye, soap, cosmetics, flour, vinegar, and synthetic rubber. He publicly revealed his experiments in 1914” (https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/work-money/g30877473/african-american-inventors/?slide=4). Read more about his life and the myriad of cuisines he created here: https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Washington-Carver.

It’s a good thing we’re parceling out this topic of the origins of the “Farm to Table” movement all week long – because there’s just too much to cover! Thanks to the important works of Diane Spivey in researching and documenting (preserving) the African traditions that were popularized in the American continents, as well as the promotion of infamous chefs such as George Crum and George Washington Carver by influential people such as Oprah, we have a good list to get started. Check out tomorrow’s blog post to learn more about the roots of American cuisine!

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American Cuisine: Farm to Table, Part 1 of Many

This week we’ll focus on a natural cross-over between what we typically discuss on this blog forum – living sustainably – and those who have lived the “farm to table” lifestyle for generations, and have led this modern movement since the beginning of agriculture in America.

We’ve looked at this topic plenty of times on our blog previously – just check out those posts here:

However, today’s blog post will explore the origins of this lifestyle and their early introduction on and in American soil. I am of course talking about Native Americans.

There are several documented cases of Native American agriculture, however as English writing styles had not been widely adopted until colonization enforced them, there are even more cases that have gone unpublished or lost to history. Thankfully however, some of the ancestral knowledge of this land was passed down through word of mouth, journals and drawings, and eventually made its way into historical texts and non-fiction writing that transports us back to that time and allows us to learn more about what types of agricultural practices people were engaged in during the early days of American life.

Farm to Table: Indigenous CuisineFor example, while doing some research I came across a book called Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation by “nature writer, agrarian activist and ethnobiologist” Gary Paul Nabhan (https://www.garynabhan.com/). In his book, he discusses some of the earliest recorded agricultural findings from North America and how they shaped the diet, culture, and livelihoods of people who lived there at the time. Check out a couple of excerpts below describing the encounter of Native Americans by Cabeza de Vaca’s contingency as they explored what is now Texas (pages 49-50):

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=eIorDQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=native+american+agriculture&ots=Si5Hs39-kj&sig=Cva4MTvaX61ovqB0KrndCqYRXsI#v=onepage&q=native%20american%20agriculture&f=false

The beauty of learning more about learning more about native plant species and practices for cultivating them is that they have a neutral longevity and thus are highly sustainable. So, though this seems to be a current fad sweeping across the globe, the practice of living sustainably has more longevity than any other practice we humans could possibly engage in because it’s how we survived for centuries before modern technology gave way to industrial farming.

As outlined in this Washington Post article – which in my opinion is a fascinating segue between ancient practices and modern technology and trends – the practice of sustainable farming is certainly not new:

“Indigenous peoples have known for millennia to plant under the shade of the mesquite and paloverde trees that mark the Sonoran Desert here, shielding their crops from the intense sun and reducing the amount of water needed.

The modern-day version of this can be seen in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, where a canopy of elevated solar panels helps to protect rows of squash, tomatoes and onions. Even on a November afternoon, with the temperature climbing into the 80s, the air under the panels stays comfortably cool” (“Native Americans’ farming practices may help feed a warming world”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/interactive/2021/native-americans-farming-practices-may-help-feed-warming-world/).

The article goes on to describe the current research being done in the Sonoran Desert on growing native crops that require little water, and the work being done to re-build and preserve the Native American practices that make this practice even possible.

“The Tohono O’odham have farmed in the Sonoran Desert for several thousand years. Like many Indigenous groups, they now are on the front lines of climate change, with food security a paramount concern. Their expansive reservation, nearly the size of Connecticut, has just a few grocery stores. It is a food desert in a desert where conditions are only getting more extreme,” (“Native Americans’ farming practices may help feed a warming world”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/interactive/2021/native-americans-farming-practices-may-help-feed-warming-world/).

If you’re looking for more on the subject, additional sources aren’t hard to find. Just check out the incredible list of North American crops on sciencedirect.com to see what I mean – the article had this to say regarding the varied plant species discovered in North America originally:

“It is estimated that about 60% of the current world food supply originated in North America. When Europeans arrived, the Native Americans had already developed new varieties of corn, beans, and squashes and had an abundant supply of nutritious food. The foods of the Native Americans are widely consumed and their culinary skills still enrich the diets of nearly all people of the world today” (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352618116300750).

So, why on earth during Black History Month are we focusing on Native American cuisine? For the simple reason that you cannot fully appreciate American history, and more specifically American cuisine, without a base set of facts regarding what grew here originally, and how Native Americans helped to cultivate the land for modern-day agriculture. Follow along in tomorrow’s blog post to learn about the next phase in American agriculture and beyond.

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Black Inventions We Can’t Live Without: Part 3 of 3

Before finishing out this week’s focus: Black Inventions we Can’t Live Without – and should mention, that if you haven’t already, please do go and check out our prior blogs from this past week on the subject: (https://suntexllc.com/blog-blackinventionswecantlivewithoutrefrigeration/, https://suntexllc.com/black-inventions-we-cant-live-without-part-2-of-3/). However, I would like to take a moment to focus on one element of these posts: author.

I feel it’s important to view history through the cultural and professional lens of those telling it. For that reason, I seek authors that may have a clearer viewpoint than I could have on the subject matter and quote/publish their stories and works instead of highlighting anything I might be able to write. To that end, I’d like to highlight some of the important and gifted writers we’ve featured this month thus far, whose discoveries and/or inventions in Black Content have helped to tell an untold story about U.S. history (to name just a few, in order of appearance within this blog):

Thanks to these influential writers and creators, we were able to learn a lot this month already, however there are a few more folks I would like to call attention to from these sources specifically. During most of the prior year, the focus of the SUNTEX blog has mostly been about environmental sustainability – I mean, we are an environmental home-energy company after-all. However we’ve also done a series on the historical background of lighting, insulation and cooling, and the “invention of electricity” (link here: https://suntexllc.com/historical-figures-from-lightening-to-lighting/). However today’s inventions build a more wholistic picture of early inventions that are critical to today’s home-energy discussion: from computer science and data analysis, to the invention of home security systems.

Home Improvements: Computers and Analytics  

Though we briefly analyzed the start of several key inventions in the field of energy, and outside of it (see if you can find a few here: https://suntexllc.com/blog-standard/), it’s important to highlight Mark Dean, co-creator of the color monitor – something we use daily to work/study/learn/communicate/watch/build.

Black Inventions: Computers and Analytics  

Mark Dean, Inventor and Engineer, Photo Credit: www.blackpast.org/

Mark Dean was born in 1957 and has helped to create some of the most profound changes to our daily lives that we still see today. For a full look at his biography, check out the following link, https://www.biography.com/inventor/mark-dean, which tells us just who he is –

Who Is Mark Dean?

“Computer scientist and engineer Mark Dean helped develop a number of landmark technologies for IBM, including the color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. He holds three of the company’s original nine patents. He also invented the Industry Standard Architecture system bus with engineer Dennis Moeller, allowing for computer plug-ins such as disk drives and printers.”

According to BlackPast.org, in their biography titled,

MARK DEAN (1957- ),

“Dr. Mark Dean, an American inventor and computer engineer, is one of the most important figures in the emergence of the personal computer in the late 20th Century. Three of the nine patents on the original personal computer (PC) by International Business Machines (IBM) are registered to Dean, making him a key contributor in the development of the PC.”

[and later within that same article],

“Dean was hired by IBM as a chief engineer on the personal computer project at a time when the PC was just beginning to emerge as a major consumer item. The first IBM personal computer was released in 1981. It began with nine patents including three from Mark Dean.” https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/dean-mark-1957/

So I think it’s safe to say that given the modern marvel that is the cell phone – and the expectations that this technology not only place calls but also act as a tiny computer – are in large part thanks to the work of Mark Dean and his colleagues, but his accomplishments didn’t stop there.

“Over the course of his career Dean climbed up the ranks at IBM eventually becoming a Vice President and overseeing the corporation’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. He also served as the chief technology officer for IBM Middle East and Africa. Dean is also the John Fisher Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee. In 2018 he was named interim dean of the university’s Tickle College of Engineering.

Dr. Mark Dean has been honored by numerous organizations, and in 2001 he was elected into the National Academy of Engineering, the most prestigious professional society for engineers in the country. Dr. Dean continues to contribute to the evolution of the personal computer.” https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/dean-mark-1957/

To say Mark Dean’s career has been impressive is perhaps an egregious understatement, and whatever the right words may be to describe such a man, impressive definitely makes the cut. Why though would we feature his work in a solar blog?

Well, those who are familiar with the solar industry, and to some extent, the research needed to improve it, know that we have a lot to thank Mark Dean for. If not for his accomplishments, how would we be able to measure and improve upon inverter-data efficiency in monitoring and reporting? How might we compare solar companies and solar panels online to determine which were right for our customer, and then communicate that quality and detail to them? Certainly not without color-screen-monitors or higher data processing microchips, and thankfully now, we won’t have to.

Home Improvements: Security Systems

Another important feature of modern-day home improvement is the home security system. At SUNTEX we feature several of them on our ‘Security Products’ page (https://suntexllc.com/security/), and we understand the importance this service holds for our residential customers. However, one thing I’m guessing many readers did not know: this technology was invented by a nurse, and African American woman in the sixties, Marie Van Brittan Brown.

Who is Marie Van Brittan Brown?

For help with this subject, we again turn to the writers at blackpast.org, whom had this to say about her:

Black Inventions: Home Security

Marie Van Brittan Brown, Inventor of Home Security, Photo Credit: https://theblackwallsttimes.com/2022/02/07/before-ring-a-black-woman-invented-the-first-home-security-system/

“Marie Van Brittan Brown was the inventor of the first home security system. She is also credited with the invention of the first closed circuit television.  Brown was born in Queens, New York, on October 22, 1922, and resided there until her death on February 2, 1999, at age seventy-six.

The patent for the invention was filed in 1966, and it later influenced modern home security systems that are still used today. Brown’s invention was inspired by the security risk that her home faced in the neighborhood where she lived. Marie Brown worked as a nurse and her husband, Albert Brown, worked as an electronics technician.

Their work hours were not the standard nine-to-five, and the crime rate in their Queens, New York City neighborhood was very high. Even when the police were contacted in the event of an emergency, the response time tended to be slow. As a result, Brown looked for ways to increase her level of personal security. She needed to create a system that would allow her to know who was at her home and contact relevant authorities as quickly as possible.” https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/brown-marie-van-brittan-1922-1999/

What did this early home-security technology look like?

“Brown’s security system was the basis for the two-way communication and surveillance features of modern security. Her original invention was comprised of peepholes, a camera, monitors, and a two-way microphone. The final element was an alarm button that could be pressed to contact the police immediately.

Three peepholes were placed on the front door at different height levels. The top one was for tall persons, the bottom one was for children, and the middle one was for anyone of average height. At the opposite side of the door a camera was attached with the ability to slide up and down to allow the person to see through each peephole. The camera picked up images that would reflect on the monitor via a wireless system. The monitor could be placed in any part of the house to allow you to see who was at the door.

There was also a voice component to enable Brown to speak to the person outside. If the person was perceived to be an intruder, the police would be notified with the push of a button. If the person was a welcome or expected visitor, the door could be unlocked via remote control.” https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/brown-marie-van-brittan-1922-1999/

Sound familiar? My mind immediately thinks of the modern-day phenomenon, the “Ring Doorbell” or the “Google Nest Doorbell,” which are fairly common-place items in houses these days. I personally can think of 3 friends that have them, and several of our customers, and swear by them as being helpful for both security, and communication for example for food deliveries and/or packages. However, that’s not all Brown’s invention contributed to, as the article lays out for us a little further down:

Brown’s invention laid the foundation for later security systems that make use of its features such as video monitoring, remote-controlled door locks, push-button alarm triggers, instant messaging to security providers and police, as well as two-way voice communication. Her invention is still used by small businesses, small offices, single-family homes, and multi-unit dwellings such as apartments and condominiums. The Browns’ patent was later referenced by thirteen other inventors including some as recently as 2013.” https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/brown-marie-van-brittan-1922-1999/

Without the works of Mark Dean or Marie Van Brittan Brown, the home improvement industry overall would look very different today. The technological efficiencies created by the inventions of these two people have made it possible to move away from business-only computers and security systems to cheaper and more sustainable access to personal computers and at-home security systems. They’re technologies that helped to create the home-improvement landscape we see today, and I can say that all those with me at SUNTEX are incredibly grateful to both Mr. Dean and Mrs. Brown for what they did to help us get here!

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