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The Official Blog of the 2009 Sustainability Decathlon

Learn more about the Sustainability Decathlon.


Reflections of participants in the 2009 Sustainability Decathlon

  •  What have you learned?

    Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009

    In terms of what I have learned in this class, I will definitely take with me all the ideas of being more environmentally conscious and living a more sustainable lifestyle.

    Additionally, I will also take with me what I have learned about communication skills as well as the complexities of staring a project. In terms of communication skills, I felt that I learned a lot, even just with initially emailing my school and talking in front of the class, something I’ve always struggled a little bit with.

    In terms of starting a project, I think what I’ve seen and learned just by being a part of a generally new project was just showed my the challenges that any new project will face.

    I’m sure I will experience many more types of these challenges in the future, but hopefully the rewards as well!

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  •  What have you learned?

    Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009

    Throughout this quarter I learned so much, from being able to really understand and experience what “sustainability” is, to how to communicate effectively. Through the readings and the speakers that came to the class, I was able to get new ideas and perspectives on what sustainable living really is. Even though I consider myself to be considerably environmentally conscious, I initially struggled with coming up with a good definition of what “sustainability” is, for example. I think that what I’ve learned can be reflected in how my ideas concerning sustainability have changed, and how I’ve applied what I’ve learned outside the classroom.

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  •  SCU Visit

    Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2009

    Headed by Jordan Brown, one group from Wilcox planned a field trip to SCU so the class could tour the Solar Decathlon house and Kennedy Commons. Jordan and I were in close contact for a couple of weeks, and his group filled out all of the necessary paperwork for busses and permission slips, and on Thursday of last week the trip happened.

    Allison Kopf, the project coordinator of this year’s Solar House, gave the tour. I went to meet them when they arrived and joined them on the tour. They got here at 8 am, which is an ungodly hour in the middle of dead week, so we were all incredibly grateful to Allison for giving the tour.

    The kids seemed genuinely interested in all of the minor marvels that contribute to the house. They were surprised that there was actually electricity, that the solar panels were really doing their thing. Another thing that we all found interesting was the window film that changed color according to how much light was coming into the room. I think the students were very impressed that college students had built this house from scratch. I couldn’t believe that those skinny bamboo I-beams were supporting all of the solar panels, which Allison said weighed several thousands pounds.

    I hope the trip stimulates further ideas and exploration as the project continues. Jordan’s group will now have to find some other way to fill their time as the class continues working on the decathlon.

  •  Mid-Point Reflections

    Thursday, Mar. 12, 2009

    They want to set up an e-waste recycling program together for their school as well as the surrounding community, but they were getting weighed down by how difficult that task may be to accomplish. I told them that they should take one step at a time and simply find out if there are companies around the area that will take e-waste, if they pick up, what they pick up, how much it costs (if at all), etc. Simply ask questions and see where it takes them.

    We decided that we might as well try it right then and see how it goes. They all elected one of the students to make the call—he said that he was not good at communicating, but he went ahead and did it anyway. He made the call, asked the questions and found out, quite immediately, that not only would they pick up anything, anytime, anyplace, but also that it was free!

    First of all, the student did a great job communicating and acted as mature as any adult would have been, if not more. As soon as he hung up the phone, everyone started clapping and cheering and the excitement in the room was invigorating. The immediate shift from skepticism and doubt to sheer ecstasy and hope in what they were doing was heart-warming and put me in an amazing mood that I am still on as I write this…and probably still when you read this!

  •  Mid-point reflections

    Thursday, Mar. 12, 2009

    Because I came into the class this quarter as an environmental studies student, I felt that I was pretty knowledgeable in the area of sustainability. What I did not expect what that the students I was going to be working with would be so knowledgeable as well. Not only were they the winners of the 2007 Decathalon, but they also are self-motivated and have a humorous group dynamic that allows for creativity to flow, even though they are extremely modest.

    There is an aspect now in my mind when I think of sustainability that includes a community working together, as opposed to individual efforts that are combined. I think I underestimated the ability of a group with motivation to not only make big plans, but also to demonstrate the actions needed to accomplish the plans.

    I received an e-mail on Tuesday from Brian, a member of the team, giving us an update of what they’ve done since the past meeting, and not only have they accomplished the smaller tasks, but they also created a comprehensive list of what is needed for their large project. All I can say is that I cannot wait to continue working with this group of students next quarter.