|Born||Lyle Howard Estill
February 18, 1962
|Residence||Moncure, North Carolina|
|Education||University of Guelph|
|Known for||Books, articles, businesses, sculpture|
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. and Industrial Evolution, Local Solutions for a Low Carbon Future (New Society Publishers, 2010)
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, 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 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. His time with OpenNMS 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, 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 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 that circulates in the Piedmont of North Carolina.
- Small is Possible, life in a local economy. New Society Publishers. 2008.
- Biodiesel Power; the passion, the people, and the politics of the next renewable fuel. New Society Publishers. 2005.