South Carolina correspondent Allison Littman is reporting from Oregon, where she is participating in an internship with a sustainable community.
It has been almost two weeks since I first arrived at Aprovecho
, the sustainable living and learning community in Cottage Grove, OR. Along with twelve other interns, I have, at last, become adjusted to the daily demands of living sustainably. The internship
we are participating in focuses on sustainable living skills, and offers a wide variety of classes geared towards organic gardening, appropriate technology and forestry. Thus far, we have toured the grounds extensively, hiked on several of the surrounding acres of forest areas, covered the botany of much of the native plant life, studied gardening theory and design concepts, built a Rocket Stove
and much more. In addition, we are developing daily habits of composting, eating locally and using all low impact, environmentally-friendly cleaning and personal products.
Each day begins with a hearty helping of oatmeal, and class starts promptly at 9:00. Usually, a guest or an Aprovecho staff member will present a lecture in the outdoor classroom, shown here, or while walking through the forest. Lunch is served at noon, and is made up almost entirely of what the garden yields. Another three hours in the afternoon is reserved for more class time, which usually involves a building activity or something very hands-on. In all, six hours of learning per day can seem overwhelming at first, but the material is exciting and the natural settings are unbelievable, so the day floats by tirelessly. Then, on a rotating basis, three of the interns are responsible for making dinner in the outdoor kitchen. All meals must be vegetarian and be large enough to serve approximately thirty people (which includes the interns, about eight full-time staff, and work traders).
After dinner, the intern schedule is mostly open. Beyond a few daily cleaning chores, the rest of the night is filled with playing instruments, making fires, reading material from the Aprovecho book collection, or biking the five miles to downtown to participate in community gatherings. Finally, everyone finds a comfortable place to rest in either a tent on an outdoor platform or in the strawbale dormitory. The night is quiet, and we wake to the calls of the roosters and chickens that greet the day.
Photos: Allison Littman