One of the classes that I take here at Chewonki is a class called Environmental Issues. This past weekend the whole class (plus Katie P, who just wanted to tag along) went out to Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine near the town of Rockland, to see their new wind turbines. They have had three 200+ foot tall wind turbines for about a year now and we went to see how they worked as well as to see how the locals felt about the new addition to their island community.
We were able to meet and talk about the wind turbines with four people who lived on the island year round. Each had a different perspective about the turbines. There was Ethan, a MCS 19 alumnus who now lives a little under a mile from the wind turbines. He lives in a passive solar house that he is very strongly against the turbines. He believes that wind energy is very inconsistent and what we really need to do is change our energy demands. We then met with the men that started the whole project and the ones who owned the land that the wind turbines stood. Dell and Bill were on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Ethan; they loved the idea of the wind turbines and they also talked about the economic benefits for creating your own energy on the island rather than bringing it onto the island via an underwater cable. Our final meeting was over hot bowls of oatmeal the next morning with a man named Adam. Adam clearly liked the wind turbines but was not as intense at Dell and Bill. He felt as though the community became stronger because of the turbines. Also, he stated that more people could afford to stay on the island since they pay less for utilities.
The trip was to prepare us for the interviews we would have to conduct for our independent research papers. There were so many highlights that we all basked in that made the trip just so much more memorable. The Ferry Boat ride over was one of them. You could lie out in the sun on the bow and let the boat rock you until the middle school soccer team came running past your head. Another was the backyard that we stayed in for the night that had a hammock to sway in. We had the opportunity to eat sour apples right from the tree. We stayed in a little cottage that is called “The Shoe.” This cottage has shoes EVERYWHERE! There were shoe shaped magnets, random old boots, baby shoes, and glass slippers. Some people slept outside in the cold, and in the morning Tom Twist (sustainability teacher) and Jason Chandler (E.I. class teacher) went for a swim in the ocean. I could hear their hollering from my cozy bed upstairs in The Shoe.
GORP seemed to be what kept us going on the Ferry Ride back, in which most of us hid from the wind in the vans, and finally we arrived back at our home here on Chewonki Neck. So many laughs and giggles were shared amidst our deep discussions on our views on wind power. We are now organizing a short presentation for the rest of our semester and the faculty/staff so that they can learn about our trip as well.
Each weekend here has been filled with excitement and activity. This weekend on Vinalhaven has to be one of my favorite weekends so far though. This upcoming weekend a few students of the semester will get to help Habitat for Humanity weatherize houses. On 10/10/10, we are joining up with 350.org and working to help out the environment and raise awareness. The week has only just started, but I believe that the fun weekends will continue to be the highlights during my brief time at Chewonki.