Soon you'll be able to charge your phone using an upcycled windmill at Eastern Market

Aug 24, 2018 at 8:20 am
Soon you'll be able to charge your phone using an upcycled windmill at Eastern Market
Courtesy CAN Art Handworks

Eastern Market visitors will soon be able to charge their cellphones using green energy as they shop.

A pair of wind-powered generators designed by Detroit artist Carlos Nielbock is set to be installed in the district later this month. The first windmill, to be located near Eastern Market's Shed 5, is slated for unveiling next week, according to a press release. Once operational, Eastern Market guests will be able be able to use it as a charging station by plugging their phones and laptops into its USB ports. A second windmill will be installed later and will provide power for the nearby Detroit Market Garden's irrigation systems.

A precise unveiling date hasn't been announced yet, but both are expected to be up and running for the Eastern Market After Dark event on Thursday, Sept. 20 as part of the Detroit Month of Design festivities.

The windmills are designed by metalworking artist Carlos Nielbock, who works out of the nearby CAN Art Handworks studio, and are made from reclaimed or "upcycled" materials. The project is a result of eight years of experimentation and a Knight Arts Challenge Grant, in partnership with non-profit Eastern Market Corporation and a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, according to the release. In a statement, Nielbock calls it "the first public microgrid in Detroit, installed in Eastern Market to demonstrate the potential of upcycling and green energy that is designed and produced here."

Nielbock is the son of a German mother and an African-American G.I. father, and moved to Detroit from Germany in the 1980s. We interviewed him in our 2017 People Issue profile, where he discussed the possibilities of green energy in Detroit.

"We must seek out and look at sustainable societies," he told us. "They're already doing this in Germany, Austria. Scotland. Of course, their societies are so different, with free school and living wages, we can't even wrap our heads around that here."

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