Friday, December 19, 2014

Learning to Live with the Earth

October 24-26, 2014

This weekend I went on an ETHOS club breakout to Blue Rock Station in Philo, Ohio. There were a total of eight UD students that went along on the trip with there being two River Stewards present, myself and senior Hailey Kwon. 

The trip was a great experience, and the focus was on renewable solar energy. The place we went to was called an “Earth Ship,” and was the first of its kind in Ohio. The house is built with dirt packed tires serving as the exterior foundation which act as great insulation. The roof has the purpose of collecting the water for the house, because it is slanted to direct all the water into two large cisterns on either side. The entire house was built on the concept of almost complete sustainability and it certainly was one of the most interesting places I have visited. There are many other aspects that were equally impressive like the multiple compostable toilets and straw bale housing. Our hosts Jay and Annie Warmke were very great and warmly welcomed us into their home. They told us all about the house and how their journey through life took them up to this point. We got a glimpse into the type of life that is entirely in harmony with the Earth. 

Even beyond their choice of home, their lifestyle was very simple and green. They are vegetarians, and rely entirely on produce that is grown locally and sold at a farmer’s market. They raise their own chickens, llamas, and goats for their other dietary needs. The way they live is very admirable and what makes it even better is the fact that they extend their home to others. They give tours every Saturday morning, often have weekend classes, and regularly take in interns for long periods of time.

When we visited we got to experience the daily aspects of their lives, and learn new things about sustainability. The whole way of life is something that everyone should at try least once, even eating just vegetarian for a short period of time, which, surprisingly, isn't a terrible lifestyle.

The whole point of the visit was to learn about solar energy and how to implement it in different aspects. Their house is hooked up to a large solar array that provides a larger percentage of their energy use.

Jay was the one who installed this solar system, and is certified to teach others how to do the same for their homes. He taught us over the weekend about the different variables and factors that go into solar panels and their use. We then got a chance to make our own solar electricity generators by using what we had learned from Jay. We broke up into two teams and each created our own generators, and by the end of the weekend we had created two generators that worked entirely off of the power of the sun. 

It was a very interesting weekend in which we all learned a lot and made new friends. I would recommend a trip like this to anyone who wants to learn about sustainable living and has a passion for renewable energy.

George - 2017 Cohort

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sunwatch Service and Exploration

Our cohort visited the Sunwatch Indian Village earlier this year to expand our understanding of the land on which we live. Sunwatch is a reconstructed Native American village from the Fort Ancient Period. While there, we learned that though prehistoric items were discovered on the site in the 1960s, a full excavation of the site was not begun until the '70s. The city had designated the area for a sewage treatment plant and needed to salvage it prior to construction. After discovering several ancient artifacts, the city instead decided to preserve the site. Excavations were considered completed in the late 80s, and now the site is now enjoyed by the public as a celebration of our country's rich Native American history. It is called "Sunwatch" because of the purpose of the central pole as an astronomical event indicator. 

While there, we were given the chance to not only learn all about its history, but also tour the reconstructed huts. It was so interesting to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who lived there hundreds of years ago. 

While we were able to gain a lot of knowledge about the site, we were also able to help out, moving picnic tables to prepare for the fall school field trip season. In this way, we felt that we were able to help the community while the community, in turn, helped us. 
It was a great learning experience, and I would recommend anyone living in the Greater Miami Valley should try to make time to visit Sunwatch in their spare time!

Katy - 2017 Cohort

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gems of the Grand Canyon

This September I went to the Grand Canyon out in Arizona for a hike with my family. We flew out from all around the country and immediately were awestruck at the sight of what the river had carved out over the last few millennia. We spent the first night sitting atop the gorge preparing ourselves for the 13 mile hike down switchback after switch back.

Amidst the people taking pictures along the edge, I heard language after language being spoken. Within ten minutes I’d heard Chinese, Korean, French, German, English, Arabic, and a few others that I couldn’t recognize. People were drawn to the landmark and ultimately the water that carved it.

After walking for most of the day, we finally came to the source that exposed all these beautiful layers of earth. The Colorado River in all its glory, murky from the deposits it was carrying downstream, still carving out more.

I’d like to say I was captured by the expansiveness and sheer size of the Grand Canyon but I hope that’s not all I remember about it when I grow old. My favorite part, and the part that I hope people get the chance to truly experience, is the small paradise down there. Amidst the arid climate, cliffs, and tourists, are these thriving little pockets that house all sorts of life. These hidden gems between the rocks that take hours of walking to get to, but once found, you never want to give up. I leave you with a picture of my uncle taken as we left one of these gems and the hope that you’ll take a small bit of time to find a gem by you.

Take a new route to work, walk those extra fifteen minutes, and experience everything you can.

Sebastian Kessler
2016 Cohort

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New York Climate March

This Septemeber I went to New York City for the NY Climate Change March. A small group of us from UD drove up for the day to take part in this huge and important event. It was an unbelievabel experince being able to walk along side 400 thousand other like-minded people through the streets of the city. It was impressive to see such a large number of people collected in one place, voicing their desire for change.

There were so many people, each representing different issues—from bee diversity and GMOs to fracking and fossil fuels. It became obvious that climate change is no small issue. All things are interrelated and thousands of separate issues contribute to the larger problem. The climate march brought people together to collaborate and discuss different issues and solutions, sending a message to those in power that they care about the future of our planet.

It was also nice to see the large variety of people and ages that came out to the the march. There were children, college students, families, business owners, and politicians all marching side by side. Climate change, sustainability, and the condition of our planet affects everyone worldwide. It was important therefore that all types were present. Of all the people there I appreciated the number of college age students that made the trip. There were groups from many different colleges across the nation. As a college student I see all too often our generation being complacent or uninterested in the problems around us. Often students think that they don’t need to get involved because there are other people out there that will do it instead. There will be others solving the problems, others to get involved, and others to voice opinions. But the only way we were able to see such a large turnout at the march was by that many people finding the need to show that they care. Things only change when people make an effort and ask for it. 

Léa Dolimier, 2016 Cohort

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Roaming Classroom

During my time as a River Steward, I feel like I have spent most of it with the River Mobile. It has become my job (literally). Rain or shine (mostly rain) I am outside setting up the River Mobile at many different events or schools. Though this may seem like just a job about manual labor, it is actually much more than that to me.

Through setting up and tearing down the River Mobile at our last school in Greenville, I was able to sit in and hear our Graduate Assistant, Andrew, give a tour of the River Mobile to the teachers at the school. It was during his explanation of the River Mobile that I understood how much of an impact this semi-truck has on students. The River Mobile is an incredible teaching tool and it allows kids (and even adults!) to understand our Rivers and watersheds. Through the interactive technology inside and the useful Maps outside, kids are able to learn outside of their typical classrooms in a fun way. I realized on this trip, how much teachers enjoy the River Mobile. When we were leaving, a teacher at the school could not thank us enough for setting up the River Mobile all the way in Greenville. Seeing the excitement on her face about her students learning from our River Mobile really put my job in a whole new perspective.
It isn't just about adding staircases, maps, and railings for me. My job is helping to enable students to learn and grow from this traveling “classroom”. This traveling classroom has become one of my favorite parts of River Stewards, and I encourage everyone, regardless of age to experience a tour at least once. You’d be surprised at how much you learn!

Rainy River Love,

2016 Cohort

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rollin' on River

Just a lil river song comin' atcha from Dennis Wilson. Keepin' it real. Keepin' it chill. Rollin' on, rollin' on. 

Happy Wednesday, folks! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Water Treatment Plant

On a bleak and rainy Halloween the 2017 Cohort kept up their usual pep as they toured Dayton’s Water Treatment Plant.

I would just like to give a quick overview of where the city of Dayton’s water comes from and how it is treated at the plant. Water comes into the facility from various well fields, including the Mad River well fields. These well fields pump water into one of two water treatment stations, the Ottawa plant or the Miami plant. While each plant has a capacity of 96 million gallons a day, each only operates at around 20-25 million gallons. In this way, if something were to happen to one of the plants, the other could sufficiently take on all of the city of Dayton’s water needs. The water is first treated with lime, and the Miami plant is special because it has a lime recalcification process to reclaim used lime. The plant is also able to take used lime from other facilities and make it usable again, selling it back to other municipalities. The water is then treated with chlorine gas that is brought in by trucks. In this last sequence the water is also treated with fluorine and sand filtration/

On our tour we first saw the control room, which has various computer monitors to supervise the exterior and interior of the plant. These screens also displayed information from well fields throughout the Dayton area and information about the rate of water flow in various parts of the plant. I thought it was very interesting to see the Miami plant was taking in 17 million gallons of water, but only pumping out 11 million gallons at the time of our tour. The treated water needs time to mix with the chemicals, accounting for this difference. We then saw the lab, which to my surprise, looked exactly like a chemistry lab at UD. From there, we saw holding tanks that let settlement filter down, and giant tanks that hold treated water. The water is stored under pressure, so if there were a leak, water would spew out instead of letting contaminates seep in. We got to see the old pumps which are no longer used, but could be used in an emergency. We concluded our tour at the giant mosaic, coming full circle and following the water’s path through the facility.

The mosaic represents the path of drinking water from the buried aquifer to the water treatment plants to the homes of Dayton.

It was a Happy Halloween for the Baby Stews, as they trickled their way through the Water Treatment Facility.

Brandi Gerschutz
2017 Cohort