Extreme Energy Immersion Launches this Weekend

The Extreme Energy Immersion leaves Boston Saturday morning with a load of Unity students and a dozen others.  Among them, the Natural Resources Defense Council‘s Rob Friedman (pictured) is on the bus and gave us this preview of the Immersion on his Switchboard blog over at NRDC.  Original post, October 11, 2013.

To Gas and Coal Country I Go


Tomorrow morning I will join 18 college and high school students on the Extreme Energy Immersion Tour, hosted by the Expedition Education Institute and Unity College. The purpose of the 10-day bus tour is to build experiential leadership amongst young people by visiting communities on the frontlines of extreme energy extraction in the northeast and Appalachia. I could not be more excited to be joining these young organizers and activists on this journey.


Over the course of the week, we’re going to be covering some serious ground, all the while witnessing some of the most environmentally devastated landscapes in the world. We’ll be visiting our friends at Catskill Mountainkeeper in upstate New York, where we’re fighting to keep fracking out of our state. We’ll be learning from a new hero of mine,Deirdre Lally, an organizer with the Shalefield Organizing Committee in Pennsylvania to learn about how fracking is assaulting her community and threatening the Loyalsock State Forest. We’ll be meeting with organizers from Swarthmore Mountain Justice, which has been working on the issue of divestment from the fossil fuel industry for many years.

From Pennsylvania, we’ll travel to West Virginia, where mountaintop removal and strip mining have devastated communities across the state.  Finally, we’ll duck back into Pennsylvania to meet with folks from the SW PA Environmental Health Clinic, which works on health-related anti-natural gas extraction advocacy and information sharing in Washington County, PA. And then it’s on to Power Shift, where I’ll be meeting up with 12 colleagues from NRDC as well as thousands of young movers and shakers from across the country.  We’re all coming together on the frontlines of the fight against fossil fuels to continue to build our movement and collective vision for a more just future for many generations to come.


It’s going to be a whirlwind of a week but I cannot imagine spending it any other way. For many of us, the fight against extreme energy extraction did not become real until seeing how these processes are ravaging our communities firsthand.  Experiential tours like this one are essential to building the movement against fossil fuels and for renewables.  In the coming months, we will be working to get even more young people out to the frontlines to continue to build the much needed groundswell around these issues.

I’ll be posting updates from the tour and Power Shift as is possible from our newly created NRDCYouth twitter account.

See you out there!

Photos courtesy of Expedition Education Institute and Energy Action Coalition

Extreme Energy Immersion | Students Wanted

This post originally appeared on We Are Power Shift. Find out more about the 2013 Power Shift Conference and youth climate convergence at their website.

Extreme Energy Immersion

There’s an impressive array of folks gathering in Minnesota right now for this weekend’s Extreme Energy Extraction Summit. They’re activists, organizers, movers and shakers of all stripes — many of them from communities on the frontlines — gathering to build a united front against the harmful impacts of extreme fossil fuel extraction. This a snapshot of the movement. Participants represent diverse organizations across sectors, seeking climate justice, community health, and real solutions for a just and sustainable energy future. Among those represented, the Expedition Education Institute is preparing for an epic road trip that will connect student climate leaders with extreme energy issues and organizers on the ground.

Expedition Education InstituteThe Expedition Education Institute is partnering with Unity College in collaboration with Catskill Mountainkeeper to launch a ten-day climate leadership immersion trip, culminating with the 2013 Power Shift conference in Pittsburgh. Participants in the Extreme Energy Immersion will visit frontline communities living with and organizing around issues of hydrofracking, mountaintop removal coal mining, and fossil fuel divestment. Guided by experienced faculty facilitators, student climate leaders will see firsthand the impacts of extreme energy extraction while working together to strengthen their own leadership and climate advocacy efforts.

We seek 18 outstanding college students committed to developing their climate leadership in a dedicated learning community on the road to Power Shift. If you’ve got what it takes to get on the bus, learn more and APPLY HERE by 5pm, September 23rd.

Additional information on our chief partners:

  • The Expedition Education Institute (EEI) offers semester-long undergraduate travel programs within North America, using the regions they visit in their retrofitted school bus as their living laboratory. Students gain an intrinsic understanding of complex issues through interactions with regional leaders, writers, scientists, business representatives, activists, educators and community leaders. EEI takes students out of the classroom and into the heart of the issues to build strength-based ecological leadership for the next generation.
  • Unity College in Maine is an environmental liberal arts college with a focus on sustainability science to address the pressing climate and environmental problems of the 21st Century. The first college to commit to fossil fuel divestment, Unity is a recognized leader in student engagement for sustainability and a frequent collaborator with leading youth climate organizations. Unity representatives have attended major recent national climate campaign events and in 2010 teamed up with Bill McKibben and 350.org for a Solar Road Trip to the White House, calling on the Obama administration to take bold climate action.

AASHE Member Benefits

AASHE member webIf you’re a student or employee at Unity College, you’re also an AASHE member.  The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education maintains a robust resource center, manages the comprehensive Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), and provides valuable professional development and networking opportunities.  Importantly, AASHE has also recently established their Academic Commons — intended to be a one-stop-shop for faculty and academic administrators for all things sustainability education (think syllabi, lab exercises, presentations, research, etc.).  Unity College folks can access member-only resources by registering an AASHE account with your “@unity.edu” email address.

For a weekly round-up of sustainability news, events, and opportunities in higher ed., subscribe to the AASHE Bulletin.

Among the benefits highlighted on AASHE’s website:

Access to Member-only Resources – AASHE’s Resource Center is a clearinghouse for campus sustainability information. Members gain access to an extensive collection of policy databases, best practices, case studies, planning and assessment tools, surveys, reports, how-to guides, job descriptions, campus profiles, and many other invaluable resources.

Event Discounts – members receive discounts on AASHE’s annual conference, workshops, and other AASHE-sponsored events throughout the year.

Newsletters – AASHE Newsletters include AASHE Announcements, STARS Update, AASHE Events, and the premier e-newsletter on campus sustainability – AASHE Bulletin – which contains the latest news, invaluable resources, opportunities, and events related to sustainability in higher education.

Publicity – AASHE publicizes and celebrates member achievements through its newsletter, blog, publications, and other communications. In addition, campus members may: apply to be featured in the monthly Member Spotlight section of AASHE’s website, highlighting the sustainability efforts of your campus; use the AASHE Member Logo on your website, brochures, and other materials to emphasize your institution’s commitment to campus sustainability; use the Press Release Template to announce your institution’s AASHE membership to the campus and local community; and be listed on AASHE’s website – see list of members.

Professional Development and Networking – AASHE offers premier opportunities to network with colleagues at regional, national, and international levels. AASHE’s annual conference & expo is the largest of its kind, bringing together and engaging a diverse and inspired community with individuals from all sectors of higher education throughout the world, and includes a student summit. Other professional development activites include workshops, webinars, and discussion forums for sharing knowledge and resources.

Student Positions | Barn Crew

The Sustainability Office will fill four work-study barn positions this fall.

Eligible Unity College students can apply online here: http://goo.gl/1Pfipk

CampusLivestock SustRec

Thank you for your interest in becoming a member of the barn crew here at Unity College. If you are selected from our list of applicants, you will become part of a team that oversees the general husbandry of the livestock on campus including: Chickens, Goats, Sheep and Rabbits. Duties will include but are not limited to: feeding, cleaning, handling, observing and keeping records of livestock, lifting up to 50 lbs, maintaining barn facilities/fencing, and completing other barn-related tasks as necessary.

Contact Barn Manager Meg Anderson at: MAnderson[@]unity.edu

We Did It! Solar on the White House


Nearly three years after they committed to do so, the Obama administration is installing solar panels on the White House this week. The administration knows that this is an important symbol to an America desperate for climate leadership. In fact, we told them that in person when a crew of Unity College students teamed up with Bill McKibben and 350.org to launch an epic solar road trip from Unity College to Washington in 2010. Along the way, we rallied the troops in Boston, New York, and DC, before delivering a petition of over 40,000 signatures to the White House Council on Environmental Quality with a simple message for Obama: put solar back on the White House and show real leadership on meaningful climate policy.

Courtyard Panels

Since 1991, Unity College has been the proud steward of the solar hot water panels that were installed on the White House roof by the Jimmy Carter administration in 1979. Those panels were removed during the Reagan administration in 1986 and languished in government storage until Unity’s Peter Marbach secured them and brought them to Unity College. Sixteen of those panels heated water on our own cafeteria roof for over twelve years and many others have been restored by energy lab students and Professor Mick Womersley for museum loan and public display.

Two of those restored panels were featured in the 2010 documentary A Road Not Taken, which followed Unity College (now) alums Sara Trunzo and Jason Reynolds on a solar road trip of their own. The film — by Swiss artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller — uses the delivery of those panels to the National History Museum in DC and the Carter Center in Atlanta to explore the unrealized hope for a renewable American energy future.

This current White House solar installation brings us closer to that future. Symbols are important, and solar on the White House is a stirring symbol of climate commitment from the top. May this public statement and the President’s full Climate Action Plan portend even bolder climate leadership to come; our students demand and deserve no less.  Thank you, Mr. President, for heeding their call.

New Chickens Have Arrived

New Chicks

The first of our new campus livestock have arrived.  These Delaware chickens (plus one) and future barn residents are away at “camp” while the interior barn renovations are being completed, but they’ll move on to campus in the coming weeks to be joined by goats, sheep, and rabbits before our students return later this month.

Summer Solar

library solar crop

This week we fired up the third inverter and so the full three arrays of our library solar project (click link to read more about our unique Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with our partners at ReVision Energy). Installed in September, the 144-panel, 37.44 kW solar photo-voltaic system was just big enough to require some unforeseen upgrades — namely the utility company’s replacement of the transformer and pole that feed into (and out of!) the library. We were approved to energize two-thirds of the system in April before that work was completed, but it wasn’t until the transformer replacement this past Monday that we had the go-ahead to energize the full system, and just in time for the summer solstice.

We’re in peak solar season right now, with the longest sunlight days of the year and a great recent run of clear days. In fact, on its first day of full operation this week, our system produced 254.5 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity — which would meet about half the monthly average electricity consumption for a Maine household. Yes, we made more electricity on one day than you and your family likely use in two weeks. The excess electricity that we produce during these peak months earns us a credit from the utility company which will be applied in our favor during the less productive times of the year. Over the course of the year, we expect the system to generate about 80% of the library’s total annual electricity usage.

The image below shows you the system production for May, when only two-thirds of the system was up and running.  Production in May totaled 3,529 kWh, while electricity use in the library was only 3,040 kWh. Welcome solar summer!

May '13 solar production


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