By Anthony Gleeson 

    You might have seen his mobile sound system around the hood at Farmers Markets, or low-key music events. He’s known as The Solar Sailor, but we’ll just call him Ross Kingston.

    His rig is an impressive invention; a sound system on a converted bicycle powered by solar panels. He created it with the invaluable assistance of John Hall, who Ross describes as ‘an upcycling extraordinaire who conjures up incredible things out of metal plus the flotsam and jetsam of life’. John built the rig just before COVID hit, and Ross managed to run a couple of successful events before he was shut down like the rest of us. 

    Ross’s aim is to create a social enterprise providing solar-powered sound and outdoor cinema to the western suburbs. With high-end live PA and audio visual systems he has the capacity to engage a network of DJ’s and musicians for live entertainment. And it’s all fueled by 100 percent renewable energy, transported by pedal power, ably provided by Ross’s legs. 

    Originally from Lutruwita (Tasmania) Ross is now based in the inner west of Naarm. He’s an environmental scientist by trade and has worked in local and state government on projects to decarbonise community facilities such as aquatic centres, street lighting and transportation. 

    His idea for the ‘Solar Sailor’ originated when he was involved in running outdoor music and community events. He noticed that these events were dependent on fossil fuel powered generators creating carbon emissions, as well as noise and air pollution. He wanted to bring the community together for art and celebratory events without the need for diesel generators. He also wanted to develop a resource for climate action initiatives he was involved in.

    ‘My family and I are fortunate to have enough to get us by from our day jobs,’ he says. ‘What I’m mostly interested in for the Solar Sailor is developing a business model focused on community benefits rather than profit making’. 

    He’s been advised by Social Traders that his concept isn’t established enough yet to be eligible for social enterprise accreditation, but he’s not deterred. 

    To qualify as a social enterprise, he needs to develop a transparent and verified financial report each year demonstrating how the enterprise has delivered community benefits. He is motivated to get it established in the community as a resource to demonstrate how easily the typical things we do each day can be decarbonised. 

    Ross isn’t overwhelmed by the climate crisis we face, instead he’s getting stuck into creating solutions to it. 

    His hope is to run practical renewable energy workshops with young people in the west and provide casual paid employment for young people helping to run events.

    The Solar Sailor’ is open for bookings for any community events and outdoor cinema, and is essentially free for non-commercial events such as political actions. 

    Check out his website if you’re interested.

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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