On a call, Mylo Fowler described his time growing up in the outdoors. He talked about his adventures as a photographer, and his experiences as an ambassador for Goal Zero. Read his responses to learn more about his life, and about the September 2022 humanitarian mission to the Navajo Nation, where Mylo partnered with Goal Zero and Heart of America to provide power to those who need it.
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Can you tell us about yourself?
I spend a lot of time in the outdoors, and the majority of that is heavily influenced by my childhood growing up off the land [in the Navajo Nation]. That entire environment opened up the only path I know. For a long time, I thought everybody farmed and did work like that. That changed when I saw everybody in grocery stores. Farming meant you had to take care of the animals, so it’s always time in the outdoors, whether on my own two feet or riding a horse. I loved it. I loved being alone and out in the middle of nowhere on a daily basis. Now, as a 40-year-old husband and father, all that time in the outdoors where I found peace and challenges – it’s really medicinal in various ways. That’s really my roots to who I am is being heavily dependent and respectful of nature.
Our kids are half Navajo, and the greatest chance they have to ever get to learn about our way of life is really through me. Living in Salt Lake City, those chances are a fighting one because we’re not around our people 24/7, where they can hear a story over breakfast or take part in a ceremony because someone needs healing at the last minute. My approach to passing on what was crucial and important has been brought more to the forefront.
How did you become an ambassador for Goal Zero?
Years ago, I started buying Goal Zero products and fell in love with it. In 2015, I made a small website to sell prints. My hope was to buy a pallet of water with the profits and drive that down to the Navajo Nation. Long story short, I was able to buy seven semi-trailers of fresh drinking water. That’s when I reached out to Goal Zero and, a week after the last water delivery I had, I went down to help with solar installations. They asked me to help translate in Navajo to explain what we were doing, how we were doing it, and how those families could use those Goal Zero systems. I’ve been doing those trips with Goal Zero since 2015, and I’ve been on board as an official ambassador for about three years.
What was the goal of the September Navajo Nation trip?
The goal was to help more students Pre-K through 12th grade, to help more of them have power. To have a range of things from light, to being able to recharge their smart devices because a lot of schools have students learning on Chromebooks and tablets. The power enables them to have the internet, recharge their devices, and potentially have a fridge from a low power drawing source like Dometic. Depending on the family, we would determine a good fridge size for them. It allows them to have food and healthier options as opposed to going with something that has a longer shelf life that’s packed with preservatives.
Who did you end up helping on this trip?
We worked with the Ganado School District, Window Rock School District, and San Juan School District. I led one of the groups and we powered about 10 homes, and we split into various groups that had a leader, knew where the families lived, and would be a liaison. The nonprofit partnership I’m a part of is Heart of America. There, I’m the Native American liaison, so I wore two hats on this trip. It was great in that aspect to help families have Goal Zero power.
What kind of Goal Zero gear did you bring along?
We brought down the Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Panels, Yeti 500X Power Stations, Light-a-Life 350 lights, and Crush Lights. Between all the groups, I believe we powered 58 homes.
We were going to camp out, but we were hit with one of the largest monsoon rain storms of the entire year. To get to some of these families, that created a little bit of a challenge for those who didn’t have robust tires. That gave some insight to the road conditions. The majority of volunteers had never gone on a Goal Zero trip, and they got to see what it entails and see what families go through on a daily basis.
How did this trip help bridge the digital divide?
For me, what was super cool, one family actually had Starlink. In order to run it, they had to run a 250-yard extension cord, but they didn’t have consistent power. Now, [with Goal Zero systems] they have the internet in the middle of nowhere. They live eight or nine miles from the highway on a dirt road. It was awesome for them to know that they have a reliable power source to have internet connectivity to reach their teachers and work on assignments.
Another family, one of their biggest challenges was having a reliable power source to charge their hotspot. They would basically sit outside in their vehicle and turn on their truck to run it through that. That’s what they were using for power, and now they have a reliable power source.
What are you hoping to do on future trips?
The only goal I have is to power the homes that don’t have power. Those numbers are decreasing as we have more grid power. However, the goal is always going to be to bridge that gap and use these Goal Zero systems to power as many homes as we possibly can.
I think that we all can make a difference, and that may not be known yet due to fear and knowing you’re going to be uncomfortable navigating a new path. So, the goal is to bring more power so that the youth can then use that. The greatest reason why is because in our culture, we call the youth the future. When I get older, the future generations are going to be the ones solving problems for us at a later date. Why not invest in them now? They’re educated, aware, and able to voice what matters to them. Outside of being able to vote, they have dreams and passions. It comes down to helping someone, and solving a problem.
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On reservations across the US, many students live in homes with no power – making learning nearly impossible with no ability to charge school-issued laptops or do homework once the sun goes down. Since 2020, Heart of America has been working with HOA’s Native American Liaison, Mylo Fowler, to provided 10,000+ home learning kits (with solar lanterns, books, art materials, STEM games and more) to Indigenous communities across the SW.