Monday, August 11, 2008

List of ongoing sustainability projects and experiments at UC

As the semester is due to start, I thought I'd make a list, with links to previous blog posts and other web pages, of all the different sustainability projects that students, Rob B (Sustainability Coordinator) or I currently have on various burners. All you new students coming in, and old ones returning, can see what's going on and if you want to get involved, you just have to come see one of us.

A word on that:

Every year I am astounded by the high quality of enterprise and intellectual capacity of many of our entering students. But there's always the odd murmur from a handful "there's nothing to do around here."


My basic feeling is, that if you come to Unity, Maine, in fall, with everything going on at the college, with the Common Ground Fair, with harvest time in full swing, and with all these projects available to you (and these are just the sustainability projects), then you're a bit of a bit of dead wood and you probably should consider going to school at some nice massive 50,000 student university somewhere where no-one expects you to participate and you can just stay in your dorm room and play video games all day.


1) Building a barn. This is my big project for the fall. A class of second years will take the lead, but there will be opportunities for others to participate.

2) Harvest. Sara has been in charge of the garden all summer. Our head academician (look it up!), Amy Knisley will take on the harvest and putting it up. I believe it's a class of first years that is involved, but talk to Amy.

3) Livestock: The college's sheep herd will need to be tended this fall on rotational grazings away from the barn site and all that building work, and away from Mikey the ram until a suitable breeding time (late October) that would allow for late spring lambs, after the weather has eased. They're currently at MOFGA, but they have to be brought back in time for the fair. There's also a need for hay, some of which needs to be gotten in before the barn will be ready to receive it because the grass will stop growing in October and the barn will not be finished until November. The college administration, specifically Rob, is in charge of the sheep, but there's a presumption that the lead animal caretakers are the FFA Club, with the WCE students as back-up. Join the club (at Club Night) if you're interested.

4) Windpower: There are three ongoing windpower projects:

First, the Ecocottage wind machine needs to be either repaired or replaced. Historically this small wind turbine, which was first built in a class in 2003, has had its ups and downs as the gales blew or not. Right now it is in need of big help. The Ecocottage residents will likely take the lead on this one. Either a new turbine, or a big repair job with lots of new parts, is called for.

Second, the Kinney Tower NRG Systems anemometer and wind computer needs to be taken down and re-established on a different site in Troy. This will require the fabrication of a new guyed tower, and a good deal of correspondence and visits with the landowner at the new site, which is Fiddlehead Farm, one of the nicest sustainable farms in the area and the life's work of Professor Jack Wilson of UMO. Jack is paying for the new equipment because he wants the wind data to find out if he can install a medium scale turbine. This fabrication and installation may become a project in Physics I.

Third, and finally, the big NRG Sytems Tower at Mount View High School will complete its year of data gathering in December, and will need to be dismantled. It is unlikely we will reassemble it this winter as we do not have another community service wind assessment site firmly identified. One possibility remains the Cranberry Islands. If you know of another, let me know.

5) Biogas digester. This is a little pot-boiler experiment I started this summer with any eye to having a demonstrator completed in time for the fair. I'd be happy to hand it over to a suitably interested student who needed a Chemistry I or Physics I or even Biology project (since it indisputably calls for knowledge of all three).

6) The Common Ground Fair itself. Don't forget this one. Melora Norman, head librarian, is in charge of the UC Sustainability display. Rob and I will be coordinating with Melora on building the display and staffing it. Lots of volunteers are always needed to staff our booth, for which you get free entrance to the fair (and time to wander around). (I always gave the booth volunteers lunch money too! We'll see if Melora does too, hint hint.) And you can always volunteer for MOFGA. Or even just pay to get in and have a nice day wandering about the best sustainability fair in the north east.

7) C.R.A.P. Crew. Our friendly local student-led recycling team, a work-study job for those who need one. See Keith Giles for details. Expect a big push for Recyclemania this year. And kudos to Keith and the Maintenance folks for the great new recycling stations, which should help students faculty and staff do a better job of sorting.

8) Keep ME Warm! The Maine state winterization program, an aid program for low income householders in Maine to reduce their energy bills. There's a big push coming down the pipe from the Governor's Office and Maine Housing, possibly some pay in it for students. I have no idea how I can get a UC Keep ME Warm Team going and at the same time run the barn-building class, but I'll have to try. Going to a meeting on the 20th of this month. Watch the blog for news.

9) Grease Car Clubhouse. As the college's grease car owners will tell you, we don't actually have a proper club. But we do have a clubhouse, and a growing number of grease cars, although I think about three graduated (the owners, not the cars). Talk to the guys driving the old Eurocars that smell like french fries for details of how to be part of the coolest driving system around.

That's all I have for now, although I'm sure I will think of something I forgot, or someone will remind me of something I forgot.

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