Jones receives Green Giant Award from Western Mass Green Building Group

Area green builders know there’s a green giant walking among us, even though that giant isn’t a tall guy wearing green tights. The Massachusetts West Branch of the US Green Building Council recognizes that Teresa Jones, Program Coordinator for GCC’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) program is a giant in the green energy and building field. At their annual meeting in Amherst on December 4, USGBC MA West will present Jones with their Green Giant Educator Award for her work with GCC’s RE/EE program. The Award recognizes educators who “inspire and actively teach the design students, engineers, trades people and citizens who will in their turn advance our green building revolution.” Jones was nominated for the award by Nancy Bair, formerly Director of Workforce Development at GCC, currently Green Jobs Coordinator for Co-op Power, and Chair of the Green Night Committee for Western Mass Green Consortium.

Jones, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science/Plant Biology, helped create GCC’s RE/EE program. The RE/EE program curriculum develops knowledge and skills leading to expertise in the theory and practice of: building energy efficiency and renewable energy, solar domestic hot water, photovoltaic (solar electric) technology, energy conservation and efficiency, wind energy, insulation retrofits, sustainable design and green building, including landscaping. Jones teaches a key 4-credit science lab course in the program – Sustainable Energy: Theory and Practice.

In nominating Jones, Bair wrote, “Though many of us worked hard and long on the grant that installed GCC’s new RE/EE program, Teresa was truly the guiding light, the academic leader, the force that we all strived to keep up with! To write the amount of exemplary curricula in the first two years of the grant; to attend and help lead partner meetings; to recruit, hire, and guide so many gifted and committed instructors for the program; to shepherd so many new and non-traditional students, shows the intellect and the commitment that she brought to the project. The GCC program is known throughout Massachusetts and beyond for its pioneering creativity, integrity, and success. GCC is very lucky to have Teresa Jones teaching for them.”

Jones graduated from Yale University in New Haven, CT, with a double degree in Environmental Studies and History. She received her master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Plant Biology. She has worked as a science reporter and co-authored a book on asthma. She began teaching at the high school level before coming to GCC in 1999. She currently teaches Botany, Horticulture and Sustainable Energy courses and serves as the Program Coordinator for the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) program.

Reflecting on the Award, Jones said, “I am thrilled to have the GCC RE/EE Program recognized by the Massachusetts West Branch of the USGBC. Our program is a testament to what a committed and collaborative team of people can do. We are so fortunate to have a deep talent pool here in this area. Organizations, businesses, professionals, tradespeople, instructors, students and private citizens who have been thinking and doing sustainable building and living for decades. It is this collaboration that constitutes our program and makes it so dynamic and fun. As the Program Coordinator, I often get credit for things that I could not possibly have created on my own. This award is really an acknowledgement of a broad network of people. A diverse and interesting group of students come to us because our instructors are real-world practitioners, our network with local businesses opens doors, and our courses continue to adapt to a continuously changing field. I look forward to the next decade of keeping our program engaged with innovation, opportunity and a positive vision of the future.”

Also honored by USGBC MA West with a Green Giant award was Sean Jeffords, an early employer to work with GCC’s RE/EE program in the Sustainable Practices in Construction grant for which Jones was the program coordinator and academic leader. Jeffords, a construction contractor and President of Beyond Green Construction, took his construction company seriously green years ago and changed the name of his company to Beyond Green Construction in 2008. He exemplifies sustainable practice by continuously seeking new information and techniques for himself, his crew, the subcontractors he works with as well as his clients and other colleagues. Sean welcomed interns from GCC and other educational programs so they could get essential hands-on experience putting classroom learning into practice and has hired graduates of the RE/EE program.

The Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Certificate and Associate Degree Option at Greenfield Community College was established through support from a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grant named Sustainable Practices in Construction (SPC).

Jones can be reached at (413) 775-1462 and at jones@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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Joshua Freund Connects GCC with Stone Soup Café

Joshua Freund doesn’t list “Matchmaker” on his resume, but he should. Joshua made the match between Greenfield Community College and Stone Soup Café, a weekly “pay-what-you-can” community café that provides wholesome meals and supportive community to a diverse group of 60-110 people every Saturday at All Souls Church in Greenfield. Increasing accessibility to local food, Joshua created an internship at the Café for himself as a GCC Farm and Food Systems student. Following Joshua, another student completed the internship. Now, other departments are exploring internships at Stone Soup through GCC’s Civic Engagement Initiative.

What’s really included on Joshua’s resume? Student, carpenter, educator, and writer.  Joshua lived and worked at the Zen Peacemakers’ farm in Montague, where the Peacemakers prototyped the Stone Soup Café in 2010. He fell in love with the Café’s emphasis on relationships and befriended Ari Pliskin, who lived and worked there as well. When Ari started the Stone Soup Café in Greenfield in 2012, Joshua helped get the program off the ground. 

Joshua, now 29 and living with Ari in Greenfield, dropped out of high school where he grew up in Kansas City. Conversations with GCC Farm and Food Systems program coordinator Abrah Dresdale inspired Joshua to study for his GED and then toward an Associate degree in Farm and Food Systems. Joshua is thriving at GCC and has been on the Dean’s List for three semesters. GCC’s supportive faculty and staff helped shift Joshua’s story from “college isn’t available to me” to “I am a successful college student.”

Interning at Stone Soup in spring 2013 was life-changing for Joshua. He still helps out at the Café and is an after-school teacher at Greenfield High School teaching nature awareness, creative writing, and permaculture. After finishing an Associate degree at GCC, Joshua plans to study for a bachelor’s degree and work as an educator.

Currently serving as Stone Soup’s Development Director, Ari explained, “As a grassroots organization, reliable interns make a big difference for us. The Stone Soup folktale – about a stranger who comes to town, starts a pot of soup with water and a stone and invites everyone to put something in the soup until the community has come together around a tasty, nutritious meal – is an analogy for how we operate. We mix ingredients from everyone involved, including people who pay, those who donate food and volunteers who work. GCC has been a living “stone soup” for many years. There is a strong similarity in our values and way of being community together.”

Judy Raper, GCC Director of Student Development, recognizes Stone Soup’s benefit to GCC. She said, “GCC wants to enhance and develop new relationships with community partners and encourage our students to engage with the community. Our students must graduate (or transfer) appreciating what it means to be contributing citizens and understanding how to use their knowledge to improve the lives of themselves and others. We have a very service-oriented student body who have responded enthusiastically to engaging with our community. A group of GCC students, faculty, and staff joined Joshua in volunteering at Stone Soup Café on November 16.”

Joshua encourages others to get involved, saying, “Some people come to Stone Soup hungry for food, some come hungry for connection. I go for both the good food and to get filled with social action and love. The people who provide that connection are often people who go to the Café hungry for food. At Stone Soup, we don’t see people as homeless or as wealthy.  There is so much opportunity for people to make a difference in our community and lives. Now’s the time! The resources are available. This is a great opportunity for young people to get involved.”

To watch a short video on Stone Soup, including Joshua and others visit: www.stonesoupgreenfield.org

To learn more about GCC’s Civic Engagement Initiative, contact Judy Raper at 413-775-1819 or raperj@gcc.mass.edu.

Mary McClintock, ’82

GCC recognized by state for its energy leadership

The Recorder
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Greenfield Community College was among 10 recipients of a “Leading by Example” award presented by the state Monday recognizing efforts to significantly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, increased recycling, the use of renewable energy and other clean energy and environmental quality initiatives.

The awards, presented by state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, honored state agencies, municipalities, public colleges and universities and two individuals for efforts that aim to achieve ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy targets.

“We’re pleased and honored that this award recognizes the really good work of many people on the campus,” said GCC President Robert Pura, citing faculty, facility managers and program leaders who have been involved in the schoolwide effort.

The college earned its award for showcasing a comprehensive approach to reducing environmental impacts — including a recycling and composting program, a green campus committee, a geothermal system, three solar installations, a net zero energy greenhouse and a lighting retrofit.

GCC has also committed to training the next generation through four academic programs: renewable energy/energy efficiency; peace, justice and environmental studies; environmental science/natural resources; and farm and food systems.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts number one in its annual state-by-state energy efficiency scorecard for two years running.

An electric car charges at one of GCC’s electric car charging stations

GCC’s zero-net energy greenhouse provides teaching and learning space for courses in the college’s renewable energy/energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture and science programs.

 

Art Meets Science in GCC Greenhouse

In coming months, Greenfield Community College Art students and faculty will create art using “locally grown” inks they’ve made themselves from plants grown in GCC’s greenhouse. The Pigment Garden Project is the brainchild of Art Instructor Kelly Popoff and Greenhouse/ Laboratory Technician Tony Reiber and a collaboration between GCC’s Science and Art Departments. Kelly and Tony grew pigment plants in the greenhouse and gardens this summer and have begun processing the plants into ink. They grew cosmos, coreopsis, tansy, amaranth, beets, and Hopi dye sunflower, and will gather pigment plants from the wild, including chokeberry, pokeweed, and elderberry. Processing the plants involves simmering them in water, reducing the amount of liquid, and using gum arabic as a binder and metal powders to make the ink colorfast.

The dropper bottles of plant inks are a dream come true for Kelly, who ten years ago started experimenting with making pigments for her painting using colored soil from her former home in North Carolina. Because there isn’t much information available about making ink from natural materials, Kelly and Tony are using books about dyeing wool. Historically, plant dyes were a primary source of pigments for artists.     

“There’s a lot of chemistry involved,” said Tony. “Copper, alum (aluminum potassium sulphate), and iron are three metals used as mordants to fix dye so it won’t oxidize or fade. Many factors determine which color will be present, including when the pigment was extracted from the plant, whether the plant parts were fresh or dry, and when during the growing season they had been harvested.”

Talking about her collaboration with Tony, Kelly said, “We’re experimenting using different mordants with the plants to see variations in color they produce. The same flower petals make different colors depending on which metal is added. I’ve always been fascinated with how disciplines overlap and what we can learn from where they meet in the middle.Students from both science and art backgrounds will learn about the common ground between the fields, where there is similarity.”

Commenting on the project, GCC Dean of Humanities Leo Hwang says, “Kelly and Tony are teaching intentionality. How do you take something that is aspirational (utilizing local and hyper-local resources) and turn it into action? By teaching students how to make pigments out of local plants, Kelly and Tony are teaching about an ecology of the Anthropocene, our current age where human activity and our impact on the environment are woven tightly together. We have choices on how we interact with the environment and how we navigate a relationship with that environment. While the end product is a pigment, the end result is a group of students, artists and scientists who see how their roles are interconnected and how their actions are connected to the environment. Collaborations like this, across disciplines, where students and faculty broaden horizons and create innovative experiences, make GCC a unique and tremendously rich place to teach and learn.”

Students interested in the Pigment Garden Project are invited to an informational meeting on Monday, October 21 at Noon in Room S113. For information, contact Kelly Popoff at popoffk@gcc.mass.edu, 775-1240 or Tony Reiber at 775-1366, reibera@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82 

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Energy Field Leads the Way

Like many GCC students, when Jamie Cross started at GCC in the spring of 2009, he wasn’t sure where he was headed. GCC helped him find the way. This fall, Jamie is studying at Illinois State University towards a master’s degree in Project Management focused in the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) field.

Jamie grew up in Buckland, graduated from Mohawk Trail Regional High School, and studied at  Bridgewater State College for a year and a half. As Jamie admits, his first attempt at college didn’t go well. He worked for a year after leaving Bridgewater, then decided to give GCC a try.

One of Jamie’s GCC classes in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency sparked his interest, so he took more. Then, Jamie spent a summer as an intern at Sandri, a large energy company in Greenfield, funded through a program of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). He dealt with customer rebates, visited job sites, and interacted with businesses in the field. Jamie’s internship solidified his interest in the RE/EE field. He realized renewable energy had good career opportunities that also made a positive contribution to the community.

Jamie graduated from GCC with an Associate in Arts, Option in RE/EE in January, 2012. At that time, there were very few RE/EE bachelor’s degree programs, but Jamie found one in Renewable Energy at Illinois State University. Interested in a focus on business rather than technical aspects, Jamie transferred to Illinois State in the economics track of the Renewable Energy Program.

Jamie did well in Illinois, saying “The classes at GCC were more rigorous than those at Illinois State. GCC provided me with technical knowledge and field experience compared to ISU students who had only taken survey courses of the various technologies. I knew a lot more about solar and building sciences.”

Jamie served as vice president of the Renewable Energy Society student group and as a teaching assistant for a class on Energy Management. He received his bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2013 and then spent ten days in Germany on an ISU Renewable Energy Department trip touring wind, solar, and sustainable development communities. He was awed by the advanced level of renewable energy production.

Looking back, Jamie said, “GCC really can transform your ideas. If you’re lost in knowing what you want to do, GCC can help you pinpoint what you want and help you throughout the process. GCC was challenging, the classes were small, I knew the professors well. Christine Copeland, Program Assistant and Intern Coordinator for the RE/EE program, really helped me get the internship and into Illinois State.”

Teresa Jones, coordinator of GCC’s RE/EE Program, said, “GCC’s RE/EE program started with funding for workforce development, and we’ve seen many energy sector workers grow in their skills, older students transition to new careers, and successful professionals apply new skills and knowledge to existing ones. For many, this is a terminal degree. Jamie was a more traditional community college student looking for direction who very successfully transitioned to a four-year institution and beyond. Jamie is on track for a higher-level management position in the Energy and Facilities field and wants to bring his skills and knowledge back to New England and be part of the energy transformation here.”

For information about GCC’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Program, contact Christine Copeland or Teresa Jones at renewable@gcc.mass.edu or (413) 775-1472.

By Mary McClintock, ’82