Sarah Jo Lambert is not your average Girl Scout. Cookies are the last thing on her mind. In the next few weeks she will be wrapping up construction on an 800 square foot environmental center located at Camp Rio Blanco in Crosbyton, Texas.
Sarah wanted to do something special for her gold star award
(the highest award given to a Girl Scout in recognition of a commitment to leadership, organization and community commitment). Some people think big, some think bigger and Sarah thinks huge. At fifteen years old she has taken the time out of an active school schedule to lead the construction on this experimental green building project. I don't know what you were doing when you were fifteen, but I was not doing anything this cool. I have been blessed with getting to know Sarah throughout the course of this project due to my own volunteer involvement. She is a very motivated girl and I believe she is a great asset to those trying to make a difference.
Sarah's organizational skills have proven to be amazing. She has brought together an impressive list of experts, donors and volunteers to make this building a success. The structural wall system is constructed of monolithic compressed earth block (CEB) provided by Larry Williamson and Gary Hames at EarthCo Megablock
. This is an experimental CEB system capable of producing huge structural members, up to 12" x 18" x 10'. Larry and Gary are local boys doing research based out of Lubbock, Texas. If you're interested in alternative building systems, especially experimental ones, stop by their site and check it out.
, out of Santa Fe, N.M., has donated the interior clay plaster, as well as the installation. This is a beautiful product that is as green as it gets. American Clay has won several awards including Outstanding New Green Product in 2004. (This just shows you what kind of caliber of folk that Sarah has brought together. There have been hundreds of donors and volunteers involved in this project with Sarah at the helm the whole way. Like I said, she is a pretty impressive girl. When most girls her age are wondering if they'll be getting a car for their sweet sixteen she is most likely wondering where she'll be getting her solar panels. [Which, by the way, she doesn't have a donor for yet; if you'd be interested in helping out you can contact her at her website, www.visionisgreen.org
The center, which Sarah has coined Lorax
Lodge after the environmentally charged work by Dr. Seuss, will serve to educate campers about the natural environment, what is at stake and what to do about it. The building itself serves as an example. The embodied energy is extremely low. The walls are built of sand and clay, the machine that makes the blocks is run on homemade biodiesel, passive solar design concepts have been implemented, the earth is used to cool the building in the summer and hopefully solar panels will be on the roof. Pretty good start for a learning environment. Not only that, but Lorax Lodge is located atop a mesa overlooking the beautiful canyon lands of West Texas.
I hope you check out Sarah's site and take a look around; you'll get a better understanding of the extent to which she has poured her soul into this. We can take a lesson from her. If we give it all we've got, make connections between people that care, and have as much fun as we can, even when the stress is huge, we can do great things together.
Sadly, Sarah's camp is in danger of being closed due to budget difficulties within the Girl Scout organization. The Lorax Lodge may keep it open, but next time you see those cute little cookie pushers in your grocery line you might want to cave in to the Thin Mint.