Even in an era of discount travel, five dollars is an exceptional price for a trip for two to Bhutan, the Buddhist kingdom celebrated for its thought-provoking commitment to Gross National Happiness.Washington, D.C. – May 19, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] But five dollars is exactly the suggested per-ticket donation in a fundraising sweepstakes now being conducted by the Solar Electric Light Fund, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that introduces solar and other Renewable Energy to off-grid communities in the rural developing world, including Bhutan. The trip, including airfare, has been donated by the adventure travel company Geographic Expeditions of San Francisco, California. Tickets are being offered both online at www.self.org, and at concerts of the folk artist Dar Williams, currently touring to promote her critically-acclaimed new album, “Beauty of the Rain.” The winning ticket will be drawn at Williams’ June 7 concert in New York City. Williams learned of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) last year while visiting the remote Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan. SELF will be providing household solar energy systems to farming families in Phobjikha who want the safe, bright light of electricity, but not the transmission wires of conventional electrification, which could entangle endangered Black-Necked Cranes who nest in the valley each winter. “SELF offers what is called ‘appropriate technology,’ helping regions modernize in ways that help preserve a sustainable way of life, not destroy it, ” said Williams. “And SELF does so with the enthusiasm and sensitivity that international humanitarian work requires. I’m delighted to lend my support.” “We are always looking for ways to help improve the lives of the local people in Bhutan,” said Brent Olson, Himalayan Regional Director for Geographic Expeditions. “Bhutan is one of our company’s signature destinations and it is a place very close to our hearts. The need for power in the Phobjikha Valley is acute, but so is the need to provide it in a way that is culturally and ecologically sensitive. SELF has a track record that makes us confident it will be done right.” “Both Dar Williams and Geographic Expeditions have been extraordinarily generous,” said Robert Freling, executive director of the Solar Electric Light Fund. “We are immensely blessed to have such allies in our work helping the two billion people still without power on our planet to leapfrog over older, more polluting means of electrification.” The winning ticket will be drawn at Dar Williams’ tour-capping performance at Town Hall in New York City on June 7.