choice & community impact reflection

Hello friends,

All our thoughts cannot be distilled to a mere web post, but we will do out best.

We want to take a post to thank our Earlham colleague and friend who spoke with us for nearly 2 hour about how our project might reflect ideas that we did not intend. Together we reflected on what we mean when we say “environmental” and “community”, what kinds of impact we feel will happen as well as the idea of unexpected outcomes.

Additionally, I’d like to thank another student from Earlham who gave us feedback on our Google Doc regarding if our projects resources might take away from the much needed multicultural (resource) center. Currently, we are looking mainly at funding from our own pockets, the self designed internship fund, and external sources. Through integration into the Global Leadership Initiative, we hope to demonstrate this project to be part of Earlham’s larger plan. We recognize that funding is always a concern and we will do our best to be conscientious of how this project might impact the community.

To keep it simple here are some themes we touched on and are considering as we move forward (I will be using all my own words and speaking from what I took from the conversation):

  • what is our goal? could we accomplish these things without a tiny house?
  • some may perceive our project to be particularly privileged and exclusionary
  • whose values are we living out through this project?
  • what is our notion of community?
  • what assumptions are we making about the way our institution and society runs?
  • are we putting forth promises we cannot keep?
  • does the nature of the project inhibit our actual goal?
  • is this project just a way to have more control of our lives?
  • are our goals realistic via this tiny house project?
  • how can we think further about how this project can perhaps create a program for further change?
  • sustainable living is not always cheap.

I have the utmost respect for the perspective of our fellow Earlham student. While some other students may have similar reservations and feel this is not the best way to achieve long lasting change or effect, I will maintain my open minded approach and not just a call for support for our project, but for feedback and suggestions.

Some core ideas that I took away from this project were the long term and short term impacts. We may have a short term impact list, but we need to be more articulate in our long term plans. Similarly, how does “working outside the system” benefit the system? (in reference to achieving similar sustainable goals in a pre-existing house, rather than building another house).

Here are some additional plans we will aim to implement in a long term sense:

  • continue working with pre-existing frames to achieve similar sustainability goals such as:
    • working with the Sustainability Office to encourage partnership with the school to make sustainability goals come to fruition.
  • creating a May Term in which Earlham students can create their own on campus intentional living situations that are built sustainably
  • creating partnerships with Richmond to meet the needs of the residents and improve their daily lives in the ways they articulate
  • create a program in which Earlham students can partner with Richmond residents/businesses to improve housing and address any housing needs Richmond residents articulate

Further, I think at the crux of the dialogue we had today, reflects how we choose to live when our actions have real community impacts. In other words, how do we individual navigate community desires with our individual endeavors and choices.

  1. A good example of this is the smoke free policy that will be implemented for this campus come July 1. Click here for more info.

We see that this project is particularly self oriented in that we want to live in a sustainable, off the grid tiny house. There are serious implications for the community that may come off as being in disregard of the people and situations of our community.

We deeply strive for the self-growth and self-fulfillment of our values to pave the way for a future of academic success, through this project. However, we feel that this project, while selfish in that we will accomplish our personal goals, it will also help us more fully participate in community goals and the betterment of the community, in the articulation by the community, not by our exclusive values. ( Earlham’s sustainability plan has been articulated here!)

To conclude, the issues we face as a society today are very complex. Abby and I are doing what we feel is best to live out our personal land ethics and contribute to the Earlham, Richmond, and global community with respect to our human impact on planet earth. We are hugely open to dialogue and hope to have demonstrated that to at least one person 😀 today who felt that they could not get behind this decision 100% and wanted to present to us another perspective. We hope people feel that we can work collaboratively to both lift each other up, as well as the community, and world we inhabit together.

Please feel free to contact us whenever you feel moved to share your thoughts, perspective, ideas, critiques, and confusions about this project. We are happy and ready to discuss 🙂

Contact us 🙂

Our e-mails are armccul13@earlham.edu and lnfishl13@earlham.edu.

You can also message us on our Facebook page, click here! 

❤ Lily & Abby

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