36 days without power

Published 1:33 pm Thursday, May 25, 2006

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
EDWARDSBURG - You have to wonder just how many times this couple will flip the switch when they walk into a room, only to be still in the dark.
Someone who staggers into the bathroom in the morning, jumps in the shower, shaves, grabs his coffee on the way out the door, might have a little trouble with the challenge offered by Midwest Energy Cooperative.
President and CEO of Midwest, Robert Hance, was at the home of David and Cara Ball in Edwardsburg Wednesday morning with his Starbucks coffee cup in hand - the first day of the Balls' pledge to live without electricity for 36 days.
In this challenge, the 32,000 members of the co-op were encouraged to bid on the number of days they could go without electricity. The successful bidder, when completing the challenge, gets $1,000.
The point Hance hopes will be illustrated is the value of electricity in our lives.
He used the cost of a cup of premium coffee - he drinks Starbucks himself - to equate with a day of electrical service - about $3.50.
People recognize the brand name and cost of the coffee, but when asked how much they pay for electricity, they are unsure, he added.
The Balls were so excited about the challenge, they faithfully watched as people promised the number of days they were willing to survive without electricity.
For the first challenge last year, Vicky Kind of Tipton went 18 days without electricity.
When the story appeared in Midwest's magazine, the Balls already started thinking about competing this year.
The Balls thought so seriously, they went 48 hours to see if they could do this.
Unlike most people, the Balls are better equipped, as they have water containers, a dutch oven and a stove, as they take groups out on canoe trips.
They pledged, though, to not spend money on this venture.
David did admit he will watch games at his mother's house while doing his wash and ironing his shirts.
What will be hard is having to get up extra early to boil water for their showers.
Cara, who is a sculptor of bronze figures, will miss her power tools in her studio out back, in a converted outbuilding.
Her work includes the Mayo Brothers, now at the famous clinic in Rochester, Minn., and figures of animals made for the blind to touch, as at a park near Peoria, Ill.
She hopes the time she used to spend “compulsively vacuuming” will be now spent on her art.
They are also looking forward to reading, writing and simply talking.
David is originally from Huntington, Ind., near Wabash, he added, “the first electrically lighted city in the United Stated.” Cara (Lawson) is from Union.