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Little green steps (Oct 08)From wind turbines at Harvard University, to composting facilities at Evergreen, college campuses across the country have taken pioneering leaps towards embracing a more sustainable future. Last month, the Newsroom reported on major green upgrades to Kendrick House, predicted to dramatically reduce energy consumption. This month, we look at several smaller measures moving the College in a greener direction.

Garden of Plenty

What started as a rogue experiment back in 2000 has transformed into a thriving campus project. Within the last few months, the once fallow community garden has been met with a renewed sense of ownership and energy that spans across academic disciplines.  The start of the fall semester introduced two initiatives: The garden club, overseen by theater faculty advisor Karen Beaumont, coordinates the care and cultivation of the garden and has been instrumental in spearheading community participation. The club is a natural compliment to the permaculture course taught Chris Coggins and provides an opportunity for students to explore sustainable agricultural practices and plant ecosystems. Portions of the garden’s fall bounty (which has yielded squash, pumpkins, beets, greens and a variety of other edibles) have been taken to the dining hall and transformed into meals for campus diners.

Tray Excellent

When students returned to campus early this semester, something was missing. As part of a national movement to reduce chemical usage and to conserve water and energy, the blue trays that have long been a mainstay of campus dining have been eliminated from the Dining Hall.  The program, pioneered in part by dining services giant Sudexo, has been implemented on over 600 campus across North America. Although Simon’s Rock has not participated long enough to report official statistics, Sudexo forecasts a savings of approximately 200 gallons of water a day per 1,000 meals served.

Alumni Legacy: The Interpretive Trail Continues on its Path

While conducting research on the natural landscape surrounding Simon’s Rock, Peter Tiso ’02 discovered that future generations of students would benefit from the woods if there were clearly marked and well maintained campus trails. As part of his thesis project, "A Space for Place: Integrating Studies on Landscape into Higher Education,” Tiso  began mapping and defining the trails and writing a comprehensive guide that even the novice outdoorsman could interpret. Tiso’s initial work has led to numerous subsequent explorations, including soil sampling, GPS tracking of deer movement, and even a search for mycorrhizal fungi on campus.  His plan for the woods has continued to develop with the help of current students and faculty, who have devoted class time and volunteered to clear and mark trails.  With trail guides and signage now in place the project is nearing its final phase of completion, and the interpretive trail is scheduled to  open for the community in the fall of 2008.

What it takes to get around

Despite only four prime months of optimal cycling weather each academic year, the presence of bikes on campus has increased dramatically.  With more students living on the far reaches of campus, biking is a preferred (and cost efficient) method of transport and recreation. Aside from the personal wheels used by students, in the last semester community council has granted funds for five new bikes to be put to common use through the community bike program, with another five on the way. This September, Ken Geremia sponsored a bike repair clinic to help educate members of the Simon’s Rock community on how to keep their wheels in tip-top shape. The clinic is also a way for bike enthusiasts to help out with the maintenance of the community bikes, and recycle any bikes that have been left behind. With the projected reopening of Drab Ave, covered bike racks and the rising cost of gas, campus will continue to be a more unified, bikeable  and walkable haven.