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Championing Renewable Energy for Everyone

"The shift from fossil fuels to renewables is one of the biggest wealth-creation opportunities of our time," says 32-year-old Solar Mosaic cofounder Billy Parish, "and we all should be part of it." Does that sound like a hard sell? Or a Pollyannaish one? Consider that since Parish officially launched Mosaic in January, the company, which acts as a bank to vet and back solar projects, has attracted $5 million in capital from more than 2,000 investors. Those who wish to do good and turn a profit can just go to Mosaic's website, sign up, and commit increments of $25 to projects as small as a 645-kilowatt bee farm in California and as large as a 55,000-panel solar installment on a military housing development in New Jersey. The investments are illiquid, meaning you can't pull your funds out for a fixed period of time, and projected returns are in the 4 percent to 7 percent range—competitive with many mutual funds. Best of all? You get to visit the projects you invest in.

"There's a big gap between 'Click the link to send an e-mail to your congressman' and 'Chain yourself to the White House,' " says Parish, who dropped out of Yale and later founded the Energy Action Coalition, an activist group. "We're doing something nobody has been able to do before," says Parish, "allowing people to invest directly in clean-energy projects."

Parish and a partner, Dan Rosen, ran the company with seed money from their parents before attracting angel investors and a Department of Energy grant. Mosaic negotiates the complex regulatory processes for investors and vets solar projects pitched by developers, just as a bank would. Then it makes a crowd-funded loan and skims 1 percent of the profits for itself. Despite public hand-wringing over solar tied to the failure of Solyndra, experts say Mosaic is arriving at a good time: solar-module prices have dropped by 80 percent in the past four years, so it's easier than ever to fund projects.

"There's no one else like Mosaic, so people in the industry are really intrigued," says Jigar Shah, a consultant and investor who was CEO of the solar utility Sun Edison for five years. "No one is sure if
it's for real or not—they haven't even deployed $10 million yet—but the opportunity is there. It's all about whether or not they execute."

Parish isn't concerned about that. "Solar will outcompete other technologies," he says. "It's happening so fast, I don't see any fossil fuels being able to compete anytime soon."

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Lance Armstrong: Saint or Sinner

Even as we try to let him fade from public attention, Lance Armstrong’s legacy goes on (and on and on and on).

Earlier this month, the disgraced Texan cyclist found himself the subject of both a new book, Wheelman, and a new movie, The Armstrong Lie. And earlier this week, filming began on a Hollywood-size biopic directed by Stephen Frears, with Armstrong portrayed by Chris O’Dowd, of the TV comedy The IT Crowd. And, only today, Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, admitted to having doped in 2003, just beyond the statute of limitations, and just prior to joining Armstrong during his doping days at US Postal.

A quick glance through the comments of the latest Armstrong coverage shows an overarching ambivalence about him—with roughly half dissing him, the other half staunchly upholding his integrity.

In a stroke of brilliance, Andrew Straw, of the Newcastle, England-based bike-tour operator Saddle Skedaddle, tapped into the undercurrent of Armstrong equivocation when he noticed a few copies of the dethroned Tour champ’s autobiographies on sale in local second-hand shops. Straw determined there must be more Armstrong paraphernalia out there that people don't want or know what to do with. He put out the offer, and, to his surprise, the Armstrong biographies began pouring in. “I thought maybe we’d receive a few copies,” Straw says. “But within a week, we had hundreds.” He also received, among various mementos, an autographed jersey and a US Postal Trek bike frame.

Straw had to find something to do with all the booty. “I had two ideas. One was to make a throne-like piece of furniture, which could live in the Hub, and the public could sit on the pages,” he says. “Another was to cover the floor in pages of the book.”

He opted for the flooring alternative. After ripping pages from the donated books, Straw requested that café patrons write their thoughts about Lance Armstrong on loose sheets and use floor varnish to affix them to the floor. “Lance is a hero,” reads one. “Manipulator!” says another.

Letting clients express their views—good or bad—was exactly the point, according to Straw. “It works in two ways,” he says. “For people who still rate Lance, it is something that can be admired. And those now ‘anti-Lance,’ can stamp all over the lies written in the books."

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When Athletes Go Musical

When Les Stroud isn’t filming the Discovery Channel’s Survivorman or offering advice on how to overcome life-threatening situations, from storms to alligator attacks, he plays guitar and harmonica with blues-rock outfits. He’s not alone—here are a few of the adventurers and athletes who moonlight as musicians, not always with resounding success.

Kelly Slater: surfer, singer, guitarist
Notable sport-inspired lyric: Black sand on the beaches / White wave on the water / And I think of you / And I think of you (“Hawaii”)

Les Stroud: survivorman, guitarist, harmonica player, singer
Notable sport-inspired lyric: Snow, winter, spruce boughs for a floor / Fur, fire, keep the body warm / Where eagles fly and the caribou lie is where we got to be / The wolf waits there for me (“Snowshoes
and Solitude
”)

Rush Sturges: whitewater kayaker, rapper
Notable sport-inspired lyric:
Canyons and rains / Floods through the plains / Blood pump in my veins / We are one in the same (“Who Am I”)

Sara Mancuso (a.k.a. Smokey Jones): skier, singer
Notable sport-inspired lyric:
None that we could find. Good for you, Smokey.

Makua Rothman: surfer, ukulelist
Notable sport-inspired lyric: Andy Irons / Andy Irons / Mr. Andy Irons / Andy Irons (“Andy Irons Tribute Song”)

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Alberto Salazar's 10 Golden Running Rules

ALBERTO SALAZAR knows a thing or two about his sport. A former world-record holder in the marathon, and three-time winner of the New York City event, Salazar was the face of American distance running's last golden age, which peaked during the Reagan administration. Salazar also learned his lessons the hard way: The famously competitive runner's body broke down at age 27, as a result of years of superhuman,150-mile training weeks. Now fully recovered, the 55-year-old coach of Nike's Oregon Project, which includes 2012 gold medalist Mo Farah and silver medalist Galen Rupp, has paired cutting-edge technology with meticulous workouts to shape some of the most successful American runners in a generation. This is a man who has almost given his life to the sport on multiple occasions—he was once read his last rites after crossing a finish line with a 108-degree fever—and he's lived to share a few pieces of essential wisdom.

1. BE CONSISTENT Find a training plan that you can stick to long-term. If you can run four days a week, every week, you are going to get 90 percent of the benefits of training seven days a week.

2. TAKE RECOVERY DAYS SERIOUSLY The day after a tough workout, the most you want to do is jog lightly or do some form of cross-training, like cycling. You need a recovery day after a hard day. No exceptions.

3. INCREASE MILEAGE GRADUALLY Do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent every month. No matter how good you feel, be very gradual. You won't know until it's too late that you're overdoing it.

4. STAY ON THE TRAIL Pavement damages joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The more you can run on grass, woodchips, or dirt, the better off you are. My athletes run 90 percent of their workouts on soft surfaces.

5. RUN FASTER It's hard to race faster than you train. However fast you want to run a race, you've got to do some shorter intervals—what we call speed work—at least that fast.

6. STRENGTHEN YOUR WHOLE BODY Good runners condition their whole bodies. The arms drive the legs. Keep your upper body and core toned with a lot of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and back raises (don't forget that the back is part of the core). Stay away from machine weights and stick to Pilates, climbing, and dynamic flexibility work like yoga.

7. WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES The second-most-common cause of injuries, next to running too much on hard surfaces, is foot pronation and shoe instability. The more you run, the more support your foot needs.

8. PERFECT YOUR FORM Every motion your body makes should propel you directly forward. If your arms are crossing or you are overstriding, you're losing force. Your posture should be straight, and your striding foot should land directly underneath you.

9. TACKLE DOUBT HEAD-ON At some point you're going to push yourself harder, you're going to enter into a gray area that can be painful, and you're going to doubt yourself. Push through it. Never think you are mentally weak.

10. EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY If you don't have enough knowledge behind what you're doing, you're not going to run well or you're going to injure yourself. With the Internet, GPS phones, advanced heart-rate monitors, and even your iPod, you now can be coached individually, even while you run. I have an antigravity treadmill in my garage. Use the knowledge and tools that are out there.

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