Lyle Estill
Lyle Estill is the author of Small is Possible; life in a local economy, and Biodiesel Power; the passion, the people, and the politics of the next renewable fuel.

He is a frequent columnist for the*& and Observer], publishes occasional magazine articles, and is a prolific blogger who serves as the publisher of Energy Blog

He is a founder of Piedmont Biofuels, a grassroots biodiesel cooperative with a mission to "lead the sustainability movement in North Carolina."

Estill is an outspoken critic of "business as usual," and has used his investments in wind, solar, biodiesel, and hydro-electric as bully pulpits to challenge the status quo of North Carolina's energy regime. Once skeptical of what he referred to as the "renewables establishment," he is now firmly entrenched in its midst.

As a spokesman for "sustainable biodiesel" he has both documented tensions between grassroots efforts and commercial interests and challenged the industry as an insider.

Estill has contributed to the efforts of The Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, the Sustainability Task Force of the National Biodiesel Board, and to the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels.

Estill was also the sole proprietor of the sculpture studio and metal shop Moncure Chessworks. One of the studio creations includes an oversized version of a classic chess board game, which has been a main highlight of the Raleigh Arts Festival, Artsplosure
Artsplosure is an art festival held each year in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, focused in the Moore Square Historic District. This Raleigh Arts Festival has been the premier arts festival in central North Carolina for 30 years with attendance reaching 80,000...

, for nearly a decade. Artsplosure 2009 Festival Highlights. Moncure Chessworks was founded in 1998 and closed in 2007. As an "incubator" it launched a number of successful studio artists into the world, and it was well known in the region for its raucous openings and parties. Estill's life-sized chess set "Angels vs. Aliens" debuted at the American Visionary Art Museum
American Visionary Art Museum
The American Visionary Art Museum is an art museum located in the Federal Hill neighborhood at 800 Key Highway in Baltimore, Maryland and that specializes in the preservation and display of visionary art...

 in Baltimore in 2000 as part of their "We Are Not Alone" exhibit, purportedly making him the first Canadian sculptor to be included in their permanent collection.

His attempt to transform the village of Moncure, NC with art is largely viewed as a failure, including the now defunct Moncure Museum of Art.

Prior to being a studio artist, Estill was a traveling salesman in the computer industry, working primarily for his family business, EMJ Data Systems. During his two decades with EMJ he formulated and implemented a "branch office" strategy which left the company with eight branch offices in Canada and the United States, and operations in Brazil and Hungary.

Prior to his entry into sustainable biodiesel, he was actively involved in the software industry. He purchased BLAST software from U.S. Robotics, helped found EMJ Internet, and was briefly involved with OpenNMS, an open source network management company founded by Tarus Balog
Tarus Balog
Tarus Balog is the CEO of the OpenNMS Group. He is the current maintainer of the OpenNMS open source network management project.- Interviews :* FLOSS Weekly 15: Tarus Balog of OpenNMS, the FLOSS Weekly podcast, for November 10, 2006.- Articles :...

. His time with OpenNMS
OpenNMS is an enterprise grade network monitoring and network management platform developed under the free software or open source model. It consists of a community supported, free software project as well as a corporation, The OpenNMS Group, offering commercial services, training and support.The...

 had a profound impact on his thinking, and he successfully applied the principles he learned from Tarus to what has been dubbed "open source biodiesel."

His journey through local fuel production has led him into the local food arena, where he has played an instrumental role in the founding of both Piedmont Biofarm and Edible Earthscape.

He lives in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina
Chatham County, North Carolina
Chatham County is a county located in the Piedmont area of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2000, the population was 49,329. Its county seat is Pittsboro.-History:...

, and his kitchen table is a frequent stopping point for many of the activists, academics, students, publishers, and participants in the sustainability movement. His shop and house have been a frequent launch point for Girl Mark's
Maria Alovert
Maria "Girl Mark" Alovert is the inventor of the Appleseed biodiesel processor commonly found in small-scale biodiesel operations. This batch processor is based on a water heater, and can convert 30-100 gallons of vegetable oil into biodiesel in a few hours, with an equipment cost of approximately...

 mid Atlantic endeavors. He remains enmeshed in the arts community, continues to invest in his private collection and occasionally collaborates on new sculptural installations.

He is immersed in micro finance, the formation of new small businesses, and projects designed to enhance the local economy, including the revitalization of the PLENTY (Piedmont Local Economy Tender), which is a local currency
Local currency
In economics, a local currency, in its common usage, is a currency not backed by a national government , and intended to trade only in a small area. As a tool of fiscal localism, local moneys can raise awareness of the state of the local economy, especially among those who may be unfamiliar or...

 that circulates in the Piedmont of North Carolina.

External links

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