Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sightseeing-Alex Duchac

Or as the sensation,
A bird must feel.

My fin cuts the water,
As a fish must feel.

A tree,
white pine, towering,
then gone.

A bridge,
Newly made, wood still whpale,
away in a flash.

A waterfall,
sparkles, frozen in mid drip,
a glimmer passed

My skis,
Skates on the finest ice,
Pushing me forward.

My happiness,
Swelling me,
Making me full.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Last Day-Alex Duchac

On the last day of this encounter week, we learned about an artist who uses the environment as his primary medium. As soon as we arrived at school we were told to go upstairs to the Commons Room. We watched the movie Rivers and Tides, a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy. This film explores about how Goldsworthy uses his art to connect to the world around him. After watching this enlightening footage, we went down to the computer lab and blogged about it for a few minutes. Then we went and ate our feast of pizza to commemorate the end of a great encounter week. Thank you, Mollie.

Cycle-Alex Duchac


The cycle
of nature
A circle
Never ending


The struggle
To win
To survive
Outlast the other


The beauty
Of nature
Is the battle
Of change

Friday, January 27, 2012


Thank you to everyone on the encounter week (that includes Mollie!)  I have to admit I wasn't too sure what I was going to be expecting for this week.  I was kind of scared to be honest.  In the end though, I HAD A REALLY GOOD TIME!!!!  I went cross country skiing, went to college (just kidding, I wrote about some very interesting prompts at Middleberry College,) drank some very good hot chocolate, looked at poop :P and tapped a tree and almost died coming back down on the ice!  My lessons learned:
Always be optimistic! Even if it seems like a bad idea....
Happy weekend!

The Lonesome Tree (Jill)

This is a poem I wrote about the Elm tree at Middleberry College:

The lonesome tree standing so tall against nothing
Its bristle wound skin looking like a farmers hands after a long day at work

Its long limbs working out into the dark sky
looking like innocent hands reaching for peace
The tangled branches looking like those who have been killed

The small branches hanging down to the bottom of the earth
The pea sized moss strewn on to the side of a large bottom branch
looking like the amount of real earth we have left.
The lonesome tree
the last one standing
Soon to be completely gone

Elm Tree (Jill)

After seeing the tree below, I took a picture (Amira's camera) and drew it at home after attempting it at the college (last drawing.)
The Elm tree

My first attempt at the Elm tree

This was most likely my favorite trip on the Encounter Week.

The week has been very entertaining. The blog has been a great experience, along with the many excursions.  Thank you to Mollie for a great week :)

Rivers and Tides (Will)

The movie rivers and tides is interesting. It show Andy Goldsworthy making his amazing pieces of art, but many of them don't last long. It shows how fragile thing is nature are. Nothing lasts forever. My favorite piece was the first one, icicles in a curvy pattern. He works really hard, then he sees it for a few hours, then it melts. What is ironic about it is that the sun makes it look awesome, but it also destroys it in the end. I also liked the red powder in the water. It is interesting how much it looks like blood.

Day 5: Nature's Repetition (Sandra)

Movie about rivers and tides-
The movie was interesting. The man in in, the artist, used nature to make sculptures. He used driftwood and icicles to make a whirlpool like dome, and a snake or river-like squiggle. Later on he uses stones to make egg shaped sculptures. Apparently, he makes them wherever he feels he has a special connection. He then starts filling in holes in rocks near rivers with flowers and eventually red pigments. These make red circles which contrast highly with the rivers. Finally, he uses a stone wall and a clay wall to show the squiggle again.

Shelburne Farms

Visiting Shelburne Farms for the first time today the first thing I noticed was the beautiful building and how much care and love goes into taking care of a farm so big they have nearly 400 acres of woodland but it also requires dedicated people who not only love the forest but animals as well.
Shelburne farms is a non profit organization. As well as an education center it is located on the shore of lake Champlain in Vermont it was created in 1886 and became a non profit educational center in 1972. This week our word we have centered ourselves around is sustainable and Shelburne farms fits that word perfectly not only in there actions but it is also part of their mission statement. “Our mission is to cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future.”
It is not only sustainable but, green certified. They not only have animals for entertainment of children and visitors but also use their cows to make award winning cheese as they describe it.
all in all Shelburne farms does not only meet the definition of sustainable it also was a great way to finish off our second to last day of encounter week.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A montage of our last day with Mollie, spent walking Shelburne Farms, and tapping trees. It was a great way to spend our last day!

Shelburne Farms

Day 4 Shelburne Farms (Lutes)

Today we went to Shelburne farms. At Shelburne farms we did many things. When we first got there we got out of the bus and met Peter, he took us into the building and he talked to us a little about what we were going to do and about tapping a tree. We went for a hike that was long and cold we learned how to identify a maple tree that does not have leave. This is how, if the branches are opposite that usually means that it is a maple. if the branches are alternate that usually means that it is not a maple. After about two hours we went in for lunch we had some sharp cheddar cheese that was delicious, we got ready and put on our warm clothes, we went back out, this time we went to tap the tree. In order to tap the tree we had to find a tree with the circumference of forty-four inches and make sure that the tree was healthy once we found the perfect spot on the tree we drilled a hole into the trunk, after that we stuck the spout into the hole and started tapping the spout with a hammer until we heard an echo slowly sap started dripping of the spout. We got to try the sap, the sap was sweet and watery. After one hour went back inside and learned all of the steps from the beginning soil to the finished maple product. The day was long and cold, but also fun.

Day 4 Poem

When on an icy trail
My feet slip on everything
Nothing short of spikes will grip
And even with those, one will trip
Only trails have ice it seems
In the woods, the leaves litter the ground
They won't hide ice, but they could
Leaves are our friends
Leaving the trail reveals wonders
Droppings, scat, poo, whatever you call them
Anything can tell a story

Day 4: Shelburne Farms (Sandra)

Goner (Jill)

The cold weather grabbing at my nose
My feet feeling like they are about to fall off

My ankles about to snap at another burst of fridged air
My fingers are non-existent to my brain

I have an internal clock ticking away for the time we will sprint down the hill
Toward the Florida type air about to melt us from our ice cubed skin

As the time gets close I get impatient
I stop slipping on the ice engorged hill

I walk in a fast manner hoping to get to Florida before the warm air is swept out of the room
I get closer and closer

I can see the farm right before my eyes
Its closed mouth looking so inviting to force open

I run up the remaining of the hill
Almost out of breath

When I see our leader go into the woods and motion for us to come
I hope it’s quick

He mentions lunch is soon
My impatient side starts to fill my whole body

He says we will be out for another 30 minutes
My heart sinks
My nose becomes numb
My fingers fall off
My ankles snap in two
And as I fall to the frozen ground, my ice cubed skin shatters into millions of pieces

The cold swallows me in one large bite
I am Gone
 Day 4 description -

   Today, we went to Shelburne farms to learn about maple sugaring and about how they are sustainable. We met Peter who acted as our guide for the day and we talked about how maple syrup is made. After sitting and discussing that for awhile we set out on our hike. We saw different signs of animals and talked about how they affected maples. We learned that small rodents like to eat the seeds and buds of maples and without predators to hunt them, our maples would die out. After a long walk, we came across a tree stump of a fallen tree. Peter told us that if the ground gets to wet and soggy (like from Hurricane Irene) the trees can be pushed over by wind very easily. This can cause the pipes that carry the maple sap to break. After talking about this, we went back to eat lunch. After lunch, we went back out and tapped a tree after much talking about how size and age affects the sugaring. Once that was done, we went back in and finished the story of how syrup is made. It is first in the form of a seedling, then a sapling, then a juvenile, and finally an adult tree. Once the tree is an adult, it can produce seeds and the process can continue. However, once the tree is an adult, we can sugar the tree, and once the tree dies, new trees are ready to be tapped. This makes the system sustainable.
Tapping Process - Amira

First you have to find a spot as far as possible from old holes so that the scar tissue that tapping leaves will be spread out. Then you use the hand drill to make a hole that is about an inch and a half deep. It is important to use a very sharp drill bit so that you don't harm the tree. it is also important to drill straight or at a VERY slight upwards angle.

After You drill the hole you need to pull the drill out while turning the drill bit as if still drilling. Then you can take a non maple twig or seedling that is still green and alive and use it to clean out the hole.

When the hole is clean you can hammer the tap in. you must be very gentle and continue until the hammer bounces back at you and the sound echos from the top of the tree. By this time the sap will have probably have begin to flow.

After you have spent a long time with your tongue or your finger under the tap then you can hang the bucket on the fin. Make sure that you put the lid on otherwise you maple syrup will be squirrel scat flavored.

If you have done everything right then by the time next year comes around your old tap hole should be all healed up.

Enjoy Your Maple Syrup

Ice - (A Poem by Mitch)

I slip, I slide, My shoes can glide
My feet split, my legs bend
I slide down it on my rear end
Through snow, through ice,
over rocks I sat,
and then I went straight through a pile of scat,
With sores, I swore, and I still slid some more
I hit dirt, that was a wrap,
but my snow pants were still covered with dirt and crap
I stood up, I shook it off, I have had enoff
but the ice was still forming, despite global warming.

Hot Cocoa At Maglianero - Amira

Raw Hot Cocoa

Normal Hot Cocoa

Maglianero Cafe-Alex Duchac

An alleyway in Burlington hides both great hot chocolate and great ideas. The place where these objects of greatness preside is at the Maglianero Cafe. This cafe’s emphasis is on alternative means of transportation. The main alternative form that they suggest is bicycles. With posters of bike races plastered on the walls, an indoor bike rack, and even a bike-repair table, this is clearly proven. The idea behind this cafe is to encourage people to commute to work in a more eco-friendly way. The main challenge they foresaw was that commuters need a way to clean up after their strenuous bicycle rides to work. To remedy this situation the creators of the cafe built a shower that is open to the public. With an average of 5-6 year-round commuters using their services, plus many more in the summer, this has become a major success. They have even built an indoor skateboard park in one corner of the cafe for skateboarding commuters. If you think that the need for good food is lost with this out-pouring of eco-friendliness, you are happily mistaken. Maglianero’s hot chocolate is some of the best I have ever tasted. Additionally, the coffee has been personally handpicked to be both amazing in flavor and to benefit the farmers. This is truly one of the most phenomenal cafes I have ever been to.

What If (Jill)

What if there was smog in the air
What if the air wasn’t purely fresh
What if cars were the main source of transportation
What if companies told you they were organic leading you to believe that they are eco friendly
What if these were true
Your life wouldn’t change

These what ifs are true and they need to stop

What if there was no smog in the air
People would be happier
What if cars weren’t the main source of transportation
People would be getting enough exercise and they would be helping stop global warming
What if companies weren’t scared and told the truth
People would stop going to places where it was bad for the environment
What if we could all accomplish this
Global warming would stop
What if global warming stopped
We would all be healthier and happier

It’s time to take action and take out “what if” and “was, would, weren’t, would, and stopped.”
Let’s make this world a better place

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 3: Magnolia Bistro (Sandra)

Having eaten at Magnolia Bistro twice in one week, I would consider myself to be a strong admirer. While Magnolia is both eco-friendly and affordable, it is located downtown; within walking distance of the vast majority of Burlington’s major attractions. The New York Times’ write-up did the restaurant justice by mentioning that the menu caters to vegetarians and vegans alike, in addition to boasting entirely local and organic ingredients. Among a varied selection of breakfast and lunch options, one may order anything from Philly Seitan to Steak and Eggs. With its friendly staff and welcoming d├ęcor, The Bistro - sure to please even a picky audience – is a classic venue that makes eating sustainably an easy choice.

Day 3: Local Food at City Market (By Will)

At the City Market in Burlington, there is a lot of local food. Not everything is local though. Some foods that VT is known for, such as apples, aren't all local. Fuji apples, for example, are imported from California. Most of the dairy products are from VT, which is good. The market is helping farms, though not all of them are small. The company Cabot has a large section but it is local. There are also smaller farms. In the meat section, there is a wide diversity of products. Some of them are local, others are not. It seems that non-local meats are more common though.

Day 3 Montage


A wind picks up, 
and hits my face.
My frozen body
is ready to shatter.
The restaurant bursts
with heat,
and I take off one of
my copious winter layers.
Aromas of french toast,
pancakes and waffles,
waft from the kitchen.
Clanging dishes,
sizzling pans,
and hungry customers
create a brunch opera.
The omelet, 
stuffed with maple sausage,
cheddar cheese, 
and apples,
ceases the constant 
moaning of my hunger.
With my stomach full, 
and the day gone, 
Away we go,
back into the cold.

by lucy

Day 3 Video (Lucy)

A video of our third day, filled with culinary and eco-friendly places in Burlington

Close or quality???
Take a product such as olive oil. Really good quality olive oil is often made in Italy but if you live in America then should you buy your olive oil locally even though it probably won’t be as good as if you bought it from Italy? or should you buy it from Italy where you know that ingredients are being grown in their natural environment and that it will be the best of the best?
I think that this is a really difficult question because you are are having to choose between two very important things - quality and eco-friendlyness/localness. If I were a customer facing this decision I think that I would probably try to find a local product that was up to scratch, and the few products that I couldn’t find locally I would buy from a company that I was sure made good quality, fair trade products.

Interview with City Market General Manager Clem Nilan

Amira - What does City Market do to be as eco-friendly as possible?

City Market - One thing that we do is that we use all energy efficient light bulbs which as well as helping the environment also reduces our energy costs by about 15% On the subject of energy we have also fitted our roof with solar panels to help reduce our use of non-green energy.

Amira - How does city market feel about supporting local products?

City Market - Well something that you might be surprised to learn is that the average food that you eat has traveled 2000 miles before it reaches your mouth! By reducing imported products and supporting local ones, we can help take trucks off the road and planes out of the sky therefore reducing the amount of gas that is used. By buying local products you can help to keep local people employed and the food will be fresher and healthier.

Amira - Does City Market try to sell a lot of organic products?

City Market - Yes. We work really hard to sell organic things because organic food has less pesticides and petroleum fertilizers.

Amira - What tips would you give to young people about eating and choosing their food?

City Market - One of the most important things to know is that eating a little bit of something that isn’t good for you is fine but if you eat a lot of it then that is where a problem appears. Another good idea is to read the labels on what you are eating. You don’t have to understand every ingredient but if you feel like you are reading a foreign language then the product is most likely not good for you. You don’t need to be a fanatic to stay healthy.

Eco-friendly Restaurants in Burlington (Lutes, Shea, Sofia)

Burlington is known for its awareness about the environment this also translates into its restaurants and social aspects, for example there are many restaurants in Burlington which are Eco-friendly, for examples would be Magnolias Bistro which some of us visited today is Green Restaurant Certified. Most of the materials they use are recycled and they make an extra effort to use organic products in there cooking as well as supporting local farmers.
Another example would be the Skinny pancake, they are committed to the environment, the community, and being sustainable. They compost what they can and they also buy as much products locally. They work with over 40 local farms to help keep local farmers in business.
They advocate the use of non disposable water bottles and using vegetable oil vehicles. These are our favorite Eco-friendly restaurants in Burlington.

Day 3: Magnolia Bistro (Sandra)

Magnolia Restaurant - Burlington's Eco HQ (By Mitch)

I don't think that in my experience I have been to any restaurant more environmentally conscious. While looking over the menu, I noticed every item was local. The strawberry jam was homemade and had whole fruits in it. For being local and "grainy" by some people's descriptions it was insanely good, we all ended up ordering the same thing simply from one recommendation. But the food is only part of it, when I walked into the bathroom I noticed bins for compost and trash, toilets that require no water to flush, and lights that automatically turn on and off as you enter and exit. Magnolia is a certified green restaurant with a 3 star environmental rating, and that rating shows.

Blowing the Whistle on Congress
A demonstration in Washington DC,
On January 24 2011,
Led by 350.org founder, Bill McKibbens





A lone Elm
Soaring gracefully
Frozen into the earth
Turning to squiggles and strange shapes on the ends
Like the long slender fingers of an old witch
Casting an evil spell across the land
Making it short, clipped
Perfectly uniform

The elm towers over the grass
Pushing up a slight mound with it’s roots
Majestic, alone
But in it’s natural environment
Where it evolved to be
It would be normal,
Even sub par amongst the white pines
But now we think

From the New York Times's 36 Hours in Burlington:

11 a.m.


Prefer tofu in your scramble? Try the Magnolia Bistro (1 Lawson Lane; 802-846-7446; www.magnoliabistro.com), where eggs are always interchangeable for tofu, and homemade granola is on the menu. For meat eaters, there are the open-faced steak sandwich with Cheddar ($9) and the tarragon chicken sandwich ($8.50). Magnolia also claims to be one of Burlington’s most environmentally friendly restaurants, which means it must be really, really green. Indeed, everything is recycled, and it’s the only spot in town certified by the Green Restaurant Association.

LINK: http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/travel/02hours.html



Almost touching the dull grey sky up over my head
Reaching as if on tippy toes
Only to find that it is just a little bit too short to tickle the clouds
It droops back down
Delicate twiggy fingers hanging so low that they can almost feel the grass
But not quite
Poor tree
Stuck in the middle
And so beautiful

Day 2 Video (Lucy)

Here is a mashup of videos and pictures from Day 2 of our E-week

Nature By Jill

The fiery orange glowing against the darkness
Its long fingered branches catch my hair
It looks like a very happy tree
Sitting in its man made soil

Next to me is a dark green shrub
It looks like a marsh mellow sitting in a closed microwave
It screams and pricks me as the hedge trimmers arrive
He’s so beautiful, yet barely alive

The tall lonesome elm tree
Standing far above the grass
Its beauty is breath taking
Its sources are too
The chain saw comes
And the elephant tree falls on to a man

The garden so happy
So welcoming to sit
To think about how much of it,
Is covering all the grass

John Elder-by Alex Duchac

Reaching for the sky
Like the color of dried blood
The bottom with a tinge
of green rising slowly
to be engulfed by the red
Reaching, striving upward
Thick to slender
Reaching up
Spreading out
The way it was meant to be

This is in response to the first assignment John Elder had us do when we met him on the Middlebury College campus. He gave us the prompt that we should respond to the nature around us, in either writing or drawing. We sat on a freezing granite bench for a significant time, engrossed in our creative endeavors. Then he invited us inside to continue the assignment. We followed him into the building and walked down the stairs to a conference room. After we had settled ourselves in the chairs, we waited for John Elder to give us the second part of the prompt. He told us there were two parts to the second portion. The first part was to write about what this prompt allowed us to do, and the second part was to connect the first part of the assignment to an early childhood memory. After we had taken some time to write, he asked us to share the ways we responded to the nature that we wrote about. Then he asked us how our writing had connected with our childhood memories. The responses ranged from the memory of a visit to waterfall, to the memory of a father letting go of a bike. Our time was almost up, with just enough time for questions. Our meeting with one of the top nature writers came to a close, and we began the trek back to the bus, and school.