Mon, 28 Oct 2013 13:25:00 CDT — by: David Evans, C'15, Sustainability Undergraduate Fellow and Green House Co-Director
The first Green House was established in 2008 after a group of Sewanee seniors attended an environmental conference and wondered how they could make a big impact with their final year. The house was originally conceived as a center for environmental student activism, and while that spirit remains in the house, it has also gained a focus on being an intentional community that strives to foster an environmentally conscious lifestyle among residents while they reach out to the wider campus.
Today, the Green House is in the Armentrout House, the white house with green shutters next to McCrady, although the first Green House was in Emery Hall on the periphery of campus. In the backyard of the current house, a vegetable garden sits like an orange; posts and a chicken wire rind keep critters out while the delicious fruits of residents’ labor grow inside. At the tree line, a chicken coup represents an ongoing project to teach students about caring for animals, and residents continually gather eggs from the adorable, and occasionally troublesome, hens. The physical move to central campus was a reflection of the administration’s embrace of students’ environmental advocacy, which is seen in the university’s environmental and sustainable initiatives in recent years, including the newly established Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, Sustainability Fellowship program, Environmental Residents program, and the re-establishment of the University Farm.
This year, the Green House is full of eleven new residents. Sophomores Sally Burgess, Alex Butler, Scott Summers, Annya Shalun, Becca Hannigan, Zach Cope, and John Lampley live with juniors Elise Landreaux, Kyle King, and David Evans along with senior Johanna Gundlach. Each resident brings a distinct and fresh approach to environmental and community appreciation on campus; the Sustainability Fellows, Well Directed Curiosity, the SOP, Green Reads, and the University Farm make for a short list of organizations residents lead or are otherwise involved with. Majors in the house are equally diverse, ranging from English or Spanish to Natural Resources and Ecology & Biodiversity.
Events to encourage healthy community development and environmental consciousness are very frequent at the house. So far this year, the Green House has hosted an open house for freshmen; the annual Fall Garden Party; weekly volunteer hours in the vegetable garden; a sing-along night put on by Mountain Top Musicians; a pickling workshop in conjunction with the University Farm; a squash harvest celebration with faculty and staff; “Family Dinners” for reflecting, planning, and bonding among residents; as well as co-sponsored and supported events withthe Community Engagement House, including “Engagement is...” and an upcoming “Carn-Evil”, a community Halloween carnival. Those events are just the tip of the iceberg. In the coming year, the Green House plans to put on their semiannual music extravaganzas Arm & Trout and Leg & Salmon; present a speaker on challenges to environmental movements; and host an environmental movie series during the cold days of Sewanee’s winter months. Additionally, sustainability among Greek organizations will be a topic of interest as the Green House builds on relationships across campus, especially with the Gamma Sigma Phi fraternity, which is excited to get involved Sewanee’s sustainability.
All in all, this new group of Green House residents has so far spent a fair amount of time establishing the house as a positive gathering place for joy, music, and community building this semester. All the residents hope to use this potential for gathering students, faculty, and community members in order to raise awareness of the importance of incorporating environmental consciousness or sustainability into everyone’s day-to-day lives along with providing ways to achieve that goal.