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December 2007 - [Sustainable Concepts] Eco Friendly Holiday & Sustainable Students
Sustainable Concepts )
Design Forward Newsletter December 2007, vol. 57
in this issue
  • Have an Eco Friendly Holiday
  • Students live cooperatively, sustainably at Ravenwood
  • Feedback


    Welcome to the December 2007 newsletter from Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

    Quote of the Month: "Snowflakes are one of natures most fragile things, but look what they can do when they stick together."

    Lisa A. Swan

    Have an Eco Friendly Holiday

    This is the time to buy green. Here is our eco-gift buying guide of some of our favorites:

    Article Lisa A. Swan

    Students live cooperatively, sustainably at Ravenwood

    Emily Horton's sister balked at the idea of using a composting outhouse, but Horton suspected she'd come around given some time.

    "We've gone without," Horton said ambiguously, suggesting both a proud sacrifice and a genuine hardship. Of the intensive 10-week program in sustainable living she'd just completed, Emily added, "It's been hard, but it's been some fun."

    The program, part of the Audubon Expedition Institute's undergraduate degree coursework, takes as its basic premises that learning is not easy, and that students learn better through experience than by sitting in classrooms.

    To this end, AEI students spend four semesters living outdoors, each semester in a different region of the country.

    The semester in Maine is spent at Ravenwood Collective, a 170-acre parcel of land in Searsmont purchased jointly 13 years ago by three Audubon Expedition Institute faculty members with the intention of making a space for educational programs.

    Ravenwood Collective is currently a five-person cooperative, leased in part to Lesley University. AEI is a division of the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences at Lesley University

    "It's all local," said Hank Colletto, Ravenwood's teacher-in-residence, speaking of a partially subterranean, straw-bale building, one of the only permanent structures on the property used by students.

    "The lumber was taken from the property; the rocks were brought in by wheelbarrow ... the sand for the stucco was taken from right here," he said, indicating the excavation of the building's single recessed room, a study area with two couches, a large table and a wall-sized bookcase stocked with titles covering topics from Montessori education to globalization and progressive agricultural techniques.

    The most substantial resource, however, was brought in from around the country in the form of Ravenwood's students.

    "It was a lot of labor. Tons of labor," Colletto said, reflecting on the four semesters it took to complete the project.

    The design of the building appeared simple enough, but it was packed with innovative energy-efficiency measures - from the high thermal rating of the cellulose ceiling insulation to the positioning of windows in relation to the path of the sun and the 18-inch-thick, straw-bale insulated walls.

    It all added up to a room that kept a cozy 68 degrees in the dead of winter with only the slightest help from a wood-burning stove.

    The concern with local materials and energy efficiency was part of a program-wide focus on sustainability.

    For 10 weeks, students had been tracking their ecological footprint, an index that considers housing, food, transportation, waste and other factors to determine the theoretical number of acres of land required to sustain one person.

    To track their impact on the environment, Ravenwood residents measured everything from direct land use in the acreage of their gardens and the amount of water used per minute in the camp's solar shower, to the weight of the firewood burned in the oven (an augmented 55-gallon drum with "rocket elbow") and the life cycle of packaging from items they purchased.

    Article Ethan Andrews, villagesoup.com.


    Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable Design. If you know of a project that should be featured, please contact us. Let us know why you think it should be featured and give us a basic intro to the project, the sustainable elements and any websites or contact information.

    If you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining quote about architecture, building, the environment or such, send it in! If it at all possible, include the author.

    If you have any other feedback concerning this publication, please feel free to send an email or use the form.

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    Revised June 1, 2010