Nurturing (the) Environment
(Page 5 of 5)
Later, as the students finish their soup and gear up for their weekly house meeting, the mood is one of momentary respite. Only one month remains until the end of the semester; many are deep into conference work. But living with 13 people takes an effort—and so despite their busy schedules, they take time to discuss logistics.
The students take turns stating how they are doing and whether they have any special items to discuss. One inquires about the maintenance of cast iron skillets. Yesenia Marquetti suggests creating a spreadsheet to record—anonymously—the length of showers and the number of times students flush the toilet.
Next, the subject of equitable sharing of weekly shopping duties arises: Apparently, some members of the house have not been participating as much as other students in the farmer’s market trips. This past Saturday, only one student signed up to go, and since she doesn’t have a car, she could carry only a limited quantity of vegetables. For the first time all semester, the students won’t have enough local produce to make it through the week.
But if anyone is upset, it doesn’t show. Whether because they share a sense of working together towards an important cause or simply because they know they’re being observed, the conversation is strikingly mature. Instead of accusations and heated conflict, the group discusses the issue calmly. Even the student who was stuck alone doesn’t seem to hold a grudge: “I just don’t want the same thing that happened to me to happen to someone else,” she says.
After a few minutes of solution-seeking, the group decides that from now on, you have to find a shopping partner before signing up, and Lewin offers her car to anyone who needs it. Then, they discuss a date for the “big shop,” and the logistics of prepping and freezing vegetables for the winter. Satisfied, the group is ready to move on.
And in fact, the overall atmosphere in the house is solidly progressive. Always looking forward, the group has plans in the works for an overnight camping trip to a local farm in the spring. They are working to increase outreach efforts, to better reach their peers on campus. A house blog is in the works.
Most important, they are already thinking about the students who will follow in their footsteps. Data on energy and water usage is important—not just so this crop of “green” residents can measure their efforts, but so that future student activists will have a point of reference, too.
Over the course of the fall semester, the house used 29 percent less gas and electricity compared to fall semester 2007 (pre-renovation), a result that Vice President of Operations Micheal Rengers ’78 calls “very impressive.” Justin Butler, the RA, notes, “We hope that the success of this project will eventually add the word ‘green’ to every dorm.”
Just as the meeting comes to a close, someone says, “Big clap!” On cue, all 13 students clap together, not one of them missing a beat.