WARMING UP IN THE BANFF LIBRARY –A deep question, solar windows and Jane Goodall–in-one


Jane Goodall on why we are here


Francis and I, were walking in the city of Kamloops BC and the town 

of Banff Alberta last week.  Here’s a bit of what we experienced on our

sojourn. Three of the photos are  in hi resolution  ~ just click to enlarge. 

The solar tips were inspired by visiting the Banff  Public Library.

There  I found an article with the profound contemplative wisdom

of  Jane Goodall.


I conclude with Ms. Goodall’s poem . . .


Jane Goodall poem



Francis with Thompson River in Background, Nov.6-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Francis at the Thompson River


Thompson River in Kamloops B.C. Nov. 6 -2017 - bruce witzel photo


A Canada Goose landing  on the Thompson

Canada Goose landing on Thompson River in Kamloops BC - Nov.5-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Bow River in Canada’s Banff National Park (click on photo for full size)

Bow River near Banff Alberta, Nov. 8-2017 - bruce witzel photo



Bow River in Banff Alberta, Nov. 7-2017 -bruce witzel photo


Bow River (above) as seen from the bridge in downtown Banff (below).


Banff, Alberta (2)Nov. 7-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Bruce and Fran in Banff Nov.7-2017 - fran guentte photo

After an couple hours, we temporarily dropped into the Banff Public Library to get warmed up from the chilling –10 Celsius temperature and basked in the sun beaming through the south facing solarium.


Banff Public Library exterior  Nov. 7-2017 - bruce witzel photo


~ A Solar Lesson ~

One square meter of any surface on earth receives about 1000 watts of

energy when sunrays hit it perpendicular on a clear day. Doing the math,

1 square meter equals 10.75 square feet. Hence, the 8’ x 20’ skylight of the

library (160 square feet) was receiving about 15 kilowatts of free solar

energy. This illustrates that plenty of energy is available from properly

solar oriented windows and glazing.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see.


Bruce in the Banff Public Library Nov. 7-2017 - francis guenette photo


And with forethought, passive solar design can be done at little or no extra cost. After all – every building requires windows . Also, the design doesn’t  necessarily have to look unusual or unique, though it may.


Here are a few important nuances:

  1. 1)  Passive solar windows  are simpler and lower cost than passive skylights.

  2. 2) Skylights  and  high clerestory windows provide privacy from nearby streets or unwanted views.   

  3. 3) Windows provide wanted views , cross-ventilation and excellent cooling.

  4. 4) Skylights and clerestory windows can provide excellent overhead  natural light.

Banff Library interior

  1. 5) Windows are easier to shade in the summer than skylights, by utilizing overhangs, curtains or blinds, etc.

  2. 6) Exciting new types of skylights now provide both daylight and electricity, and can automatically begin to shade when required.

  3. 7) Compared to non-solar design, passive solar buildings create a closer connection with the outdoors and in general, a much healthier environment.


Vermillon Lake, Banff National Park  Nov. 8-2017 - francis guenette photo

Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park  Nov.8-2017 – Fran Guenette photo

(click to enlarge) 



A poem – by Jane Goodall


    Jane Goodall poem in Banff Libreary journal article






When the night wind makes the pine

trees creak

And the pale clouds glide across

the dark sky,

Go out, my child, go out and seek

Your soul, the Eternal I.


Vermillon Lake and Rocky Mntns in Banff National Park (3) Nov. 8-2017 - bruce witzel photo 


For all the grasses rustling at your feet

And every flaming star that glitters high

above you, close up and meet

in you: the Eternal I.



Yes, my child, go out into the world: walk


And silent, comprehending all, and by

and by

Your soul, the Universe will know

Itself: the Eternal I.



The lovely dunes; the

setting sun

The duck –and I;


Two Mallard Ducks on the Thompson River in Kamloops B.C.  Nov.6-2017 - bruce witzel photo 


One spirit moving


Beneath the sky.



Fence and Rocky Mntns. near Trans-Canada Highway (2), Banff Alberta Nov. 6-2017  - bruce witzel photo

(Click to enlarge)


Cheers – Bruce

18 thoughts on “WARMING UP IN THE BANFF LIBRARY –A deep question, solar windows and Jane Goodall–in-one

  1. Well, you just made my whole week, with these photos and stories! Thank you. I am famished for nature, just famished. Using a rolling walker now, with very little energy left, so I can’t just go anywhere now. I did go to Sitka, Alaska this summer with 10 other people, and saw some of these mighty beings, the mountains, and the trees and lots of wildlife. I have been feasting on that ever since. Again, thank you!

    • Glad you are able to enjoy and so appreciate these stories, poetry and photos Susan. I do recall you’re leaving for Alaska and I’d wondered how that had gone. Now you have those wonderful memories. I love how you are describing your experience with “these mighty beings” of the natural world. Fran and I arrived back home yesterday and we’re enjoying the west coast rain. After a few chores this morning, I was re-reading a few essays from “Thomas Berry and the New Cosmology.” Over the next two or three years I will be retiring from “paying work”, and I will have much more time (God-willing) to put more focus in other areas like building bio-regionalism and the green movement, so I’m excited. But I recognize life is short, so I don;t want to forget to live in the moment. As for your using a walker, it’s interesting you mention that Susan. Yesterday I was at a meeting with about 6 or 7 others and Charles Brandt at his hermitage. . . A sort of advisory group formed by Charles to help to determine the future of the hermitage. Charles’ hope is for it to be kept as a 27 acre ecological preserve/park, with the hermitage used by appropriate individuals or hermits with a dedication to the earth and her people. I’ll keep you psotedlthe lsectionthe immement

    • opps – hadn’t quite finished Susan… the point was, that Charles showed me his new walker, and he was quite proud he had purchased it for 1/2 price (8 dollars) at a second hand store. I’ll keep you posted about how the work goes with Charles’ wishes to have the hermitage made into a nature and contemplative conservancy. It’s so nice to hear from you, and thanks again for your appreciation and sharing… best cheers, Bruce

    • Hi Brendan. Wonderful to hear from you, dear friend. Hope all is well with you in Ireland. You must be close to retirement, but do we ever really retire from of the work we are called to and our raison ‘d’etre?

    • Eliza. I’m always so heartened when I learn of others who have already embraced Passive Solar in their home design. It is such a simple thing to do, really. And a good thing is, for some existing homes retrofits are always possible, especially if you are already planning a renovation and your home has access to the lower zenith of the winter sun. Of course it’s always better to plan it from square one. Kudo’s to you – and so true how lovely Passive Solar is on those sunny days of winter,

  2. What a beautiful post, Bruce, in words and photos. Your breathtaking “backyard” is wondrous! I admit that I don’t have ANY experience with “that much” cold, but I’d gladly learn to accept it if I could enjoy the accompanying natural beauty. I appreciate the facts you share regarding solar energy, and thought you might like a little personal story. In the 1970s my grandfather dismayed my grandmother by “disfiguring the home appearance” when he installed solar panels on a small separately attached building he used as his workshop. He had read about them in one of his science magazines and he did the work himself. Solar panels are common in SoCal now, but when he was installing them no one else was. In fact, we had never seen anything like it. He taught his grandchildren a lot about conservation and environmental responsibility long before it was an everyday topic. I think he would be so delighted to see how solar energy is harvested today in places like your library. We have such a long way to go, but I at least take heart whenever I see effort. Ms. Goodall’s poem is a perfect accompaniment. And the picture of you and Francis is so nice. I’m glad you took the photograph to commemorate what must have been a delightful day!

    • Hi Debra. Thanks for the lovely comment. In regards to the cold… -10 celsius is actually 14 Fahrenheit and you may of got this mixed up. Fran and I actually live on the Pacific Coast where it much milder than this, rarely dropping below zero degrees Celsius (32 F). Nothing like your SoCal climate of course :). We still found it quite “brisk” in Banff and Kamloops …. those of us Canadians who live on the BC Pacific Coast jokingly refer to it as the “Banana Belt.” Joking aside, with climate change, I’ve heard of some BC west coast gardeners actually growing citrus and such.

      I loved the story of your Grandpa adapting his shop with solar, and how your Grandma reacted. This is a real issue – beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Over many years I’ve heard many people describe solar panels or wind-farms as ugly or marring the landscape. I recall one comment on one of my posts by Glenn Dukes at civilrightskiosk.com who said “At first, they (the wind turbines) were, I hate to say it, a bit of a “blot on the landscape”. . . Would I prefer looking at the pristine, green ridge through haze of a climate-induced brush fire or fossil fuel smog?”

      This sort of initial reaction to something that is different is why I bought up in my post that a house or building designed with passive solar consideration doesn’t have to look different from a “business as usual” home. Of course with solar photo-electric panels or solar hot-water panels, this will be noticeably “different.” As you say Debra, and on our travels to California, I’m encouraged to see the abundance of solar electric panels on homes and business.

      Fran and I also just happened upon a lecture at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity given by an Indigenous Sami (laplander) architect and artist from Northern Norway, Joar Nango. It relates to this issue of your Grandpa’s solar ingenuity vs. your Grandma’s dismay at the “disfigurement”. A question/comment about this was actually brought up at end of the presentation. Overall, Joar has a fascinating outlook and really made us think. You may enjoy a few notes Fran took that outline the lecture….

      Joar Nango – faculty, Banff Centre Nov 7-2017

      “What is indigenous architecture? Diverse. Finding potential in the traditional. Synergy between non indigenous and indigenous. The sami garden. A place for working. Spare part car. Pragmatic. Die hard sami functionalism. Ascetics of necessity. The competence of improvisation. Indigenous sustainability. Capacity to problem solve in situ with whatever is on hand. Makeshift designs. Building with old pallets. Make use of discarded industrial materials. The snow mobile runner door mat. The Indigenuity Manifesto. To work with materials in this way is to decolonize. You take the cast offs of the oppressors and create. Nomad cityscapes. Hybrid cultures. Temporary structures in public spaces. Houses reflect changing cultures. Collaborative architecture to express culture. It is only through appropriation that autonomy can be gained. Rage can be silent .Resistance. The relationship between land, material and culture. Poverty and class. Rural and urban. Connections.”

      + a link to his article https://worksthatwork.com/4/sami-self-sufficiency

      We did have a wonderful few days as we passed through the Rocky Mountains and the BC interior,and we’re currently having a wonderful visit in Alberta with my step daughter, son-in-law, and 2 granddaughters.

      Thanks again for your wonderful comments, Debra.

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