2007 - [Sustainable Concepts] Eco Friendly Holiday & Sustainable
2007, vol. 57
Welcome to the December 2007 newsletter from Design
Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's
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
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
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
"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
The most substantial resource, however, was brought
in from around the country in the form of Ravenwood's
"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
Article © Ethan Andrews, villagesoup.com.
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