Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Q & A with Lyle Estill

From the back of the book: "Unflinchingly honest and compulsively readable, Small Stories, Big Changes provides an intimate look at the personal experience of being a pioneer in the sustainability movement, laying bare the emotional, spiritual and financial impact of a life lived in the service of change."

Lyle Estill is the president and co-founer of Piedmont Biofuels and the author of Industrial Evolution, Small is Possible, and Biodiesel Power. He has won numerous awards for his commitment to sustainability, outreach, community development, and leadership. We're thrilled to be hosting Mr. Estill in the eBar this Friday, November 8th at 7:00pm. Ben Minett fired off a few questions in advance of the reading.

Your book gathers together the stories of individuals you have been influenced by during your life championing environmental sustainability. What role has collaboration played in your success?

At Piedmont Biofuels we are in the energy business. As such we collaborate across a wide spectrum: policy makers, bureaucrats, oil companies, fleet managers, and individual coop members. I would say we collaborate or die.

What were Piedmont Biofuels' biggest obstacles to the public's perception of biofuel as an attractive alternative to petroleum?

The status quo can be hard to budge. Mechanics and engine manufacturers have been the most intractable for us, but we have managed to open the door just enough for our locally made, artisanal biodiesel to slip through into public acceptance.

You have been ahead of the curve in terms environmental sustainability. In fact, you have taken it into your own hands and made a life out of research, development, and implementation. Where was this passion nurtured? Where did you develop the skills to implement your various projects?

Our skills came from the school of hard knocks. We started in the backyard, and just figured stuff out. Passion is harder to identify. When something just makes sense, it is hard to abandon. And sometimes being told it will never work is a great motivator.

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