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CLIMATEACTION  June 1999

CLIMATEACTION June 1999

Subject:

Human-Powered Train for Sustainability Field Trips

From:

"David T. Punia" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Burlington Climate Protection Task Force <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 2 Jun 1999 10:18:29 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (96 lines)

        At 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, 3 June, in room A302 at Burlington High
School, students in the Integrated Studies class will make a presentation
on the "human-powered train" they have developed this year.  They will also
provide demonstrations on Sunday on the railroad track between College
Street and the Intervale.   You are invited to participate in both events.
        The BHS students developed a prototype of a human powered train so
K-12 students, college and university students, residents, tourists,
conventioneers, etc. could learn about sustainability while utilizing a
sustainable (and fun!) means of transport themselves. The hope is to offer
sustainability tours connecting numerous "sustainability sites" in the
greater Burlington area which have been researched and had interpretive
text written about them by University of Vermont Environmental Studies
students.   Many of the sites are directly along the existing railroad
tracks , while others could be reached from the railroad tracks via a
shuttle bus, walking, bicycling,  etc.
        The World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland
Commission) in Our Common Future (l987) offered a definition of
sustainability: "...to meet the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."  For some,
sustainability is merely rhetoric or a buzzword, a theoretical concept that
remains elusive and vague.  Yet there are instances of large cities and
rural communities across the U.S. and elsewhere putting the principles of
sustainability to work, proving that environmentally and socially healthy
communities and economic development can coexist.  One of these is the
Burlington, Vermont, community in the Lake Champlain Basin Bioregion.
        Over the past 4 years, seniors in an Environmental Studies course
at the University of Vermont titled Creating Environmentally Sustainable
Communities have attempted to operationalize the term sustainability and
make it more concrete by carrying out term projects that focused on
individuals or groups in the Greater Burlington area who serve as a
positive role model or example for others to follow or emulate in bringing
about the transition to more environmentally-sustainable communities.   The
students' projects emphasize actual projects and working models, innovative
approaches, positive role models, success stories, concrete examples, best
practices, lessons learned, and case studies that create hope, inspire and
empower others, focus on solutions, and offer visions of sustainability for
others.  These term projects involve a written paper as well as a video
presentation shown in class and broadcast during Earth Week in April over
Channel 15, Adelphia Cable's public access TV channel.  Mainstream print
and electronic media do not do an adequate job of covering such
sustainability initiatives.  Therefore, the UVM students have helped to
spread the word about such efforts, and--in doing so--move beyond
platitudes and make principles of sustainability concrete and tangible.
Interpretive text about these sites and others is being compiled into A
Field Guide to Sustainability in the Greater Burlington Area with
accompanying videotape.
        The sites include, among many others:
*Organic tomatoes grown year-round in David Miskell's wood pellet fueled,
energy efficient greenhouse in Charlotte
*Ten Stones, intentional community in Shelburne, with cluster housing and
deeding of development rights on farmland and forest land to the Vermont
Land Trust.  Several of the homes are of straw-bale construction.
*Shelburne Farms: grass-based dairy, with rotational grazing
*Living Machine developed by John Todd, Visiting Professor at UVM and
former director of New Alchemy Institute.  In two treatment trains of 9
tanks each (5 aerobic reactors, 1 clarifier, and 3 ecological fluidized
beds) housed in a greenhouse, 80,000 gallons per day of municipal sewage
are treated using a variety of aquatic plant species in floating plant
racks in the tanks.
*Burlington Farmer's Market
*Permaculture at Slade Hall on the UVM campus
*Burlington Bicycle Path
*Onion River Food Cooperative
*Burlington Community Land Trust
*McNeill Generating Station.  Owned by the Burlington Electric Department
(BED), this 50-megawatt plant is the largest wood fired electricity plant
in the world.  It utilizes wood culled in timber stand improvement projects
in Vermont and New York that is transported via train and truck.  In l996,
BED received a $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to
conduct research on a gasifier that is expected to increase biomass fuel
efficiency by 100 per cent.
*Proposed Riverside Ecological-Industrial Park, in which waste from some
industrial processes (such as waste heat from the McNeill Plant) will be
used as inputs for other industrial processes.
*Waste wood depot: tree branches, stumps, untreated wood from demolition
projects, etc. are removed from the waste stream and burned in the McNeill
Plant to produce electricity.
*Gardener's Supply Company salesroom and demonstrations
*Cook's Garden demonstration gardens
*Intervale Community Farm:  Community-supported agriculture
*Community gardens
*Intervale Composting Project: This project uses municipal yard wastes,
food wastes from UVM and Fletcher Allen Hospital and the Perry restaurant
chain and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream factory in Waterbury, cattle manure
from the UVM Dairy Farm, etc. to produce compost that is applied to fields
in the Intervale and sold
*Six enterprise gardens supported by the Intervale Foundation
*Winooski Hydropower Project: small-scale hydropower project.

Thomas R. Hudspeth
Environmental Program and School of Natural Resources,
University of Vermont
153 S. Prospect St., Burlington, VT. 0540l
(802) 656-4055     FAX:  (802) 656-8015
E-mail:  [log in to unmask]

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