BACK IN THE DAY
There is still an active timber industry in the region, but for the last several decades more effort has gone into letting the land rest and recover than to market its timber. To an untrained eye Lincoln is surrounded by pristine wilderness. It's a testimony to how resilient the earth is with the right kind of care. That resiliency is a daily inspiration that ecological damage can be undone.
The old Lincoln mill was dismantled fifty years ago. Remnants of this sleepy logging town remain, and logging trucks still rumble past. Trees were replanted and nature has taken its course to cover the bald fields and slopes. And we're actively introducing sustainable technologies and practices to keep our carbon footprint small.
We tend to think of our place in these woods as a little piece of heaven on earth. But eighty years ago it resembled a moonscape due to the heedless clearcutting of the forest for miles around.
OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
At the OE we are always looking for sustainable technologies and practices to keep our carbon footprint small. Our water flows from a mountain spring that is gravity fed to the entire campus. Our wastewater is filtered through textile panels mounted in large tanks that use natural microorganisms to clean the water to irrigation levels of purity before it returns to the aquifer. None of our kitchens have garbage disposals—all organic waste feeds our chickens and composts our gardens. We have an efficient recycling system for plastics, glass, paper, and metals. The Library and Classroom spaces are heated with energy efficient heat pumps, and all of our dwellings—for students and staff—are heated with high-efficiency wood stoves. All of our firewood is harvested from our own campus forestland through a thinning regimen that creates a healthier forest, and eliminates the use of fossil fuels that would otherwise be burned to transport the logs or fire up conventional furnaces. We have installed two composting toilets, and replaced all of the old water guzzling toilets with extreme low volume flushing tanks.
FOOD AND FARMING
OE students arrive to campus with a large vegetable garden and apple trees ready for harvest, turkeys to raise, chickens to look after and eggs to collect, goats to milk and lessons in cheese making. The Rogue Valley is home to a great number of organic and alternative farms, a wonderful source of fresh, local produce, and workshops will be offered to students on how to can and dehydrate fruits and vegetables. During the growing season, students receive a CSA box full of fresh vegetables from the garden.
MAKING AND FIXING
At the OE we are big believers in the idea that fixing broken things is one of the best ways to curb habits of over consumption and reduce the waste that goes into landfills. In the third segment students may choose the skills track we call “Toolcraft: Making and Fixing,” that will put tools into their hands. Together with the professors they will build some furniture, fix some trucks, and repair some leaking plumbing. Along with a stack of books to read and ideas to explore, there is a little bit of shop class woven into a semester at the OE—enough to pick up the knowledge and skills needed to fix many broken things that will come down the pike later in life.
Students can participate in sustainable forest management, including monitoring plots, restorative plantings, and sustainable harvesting methods. There will be opportunities to get involved in some small scale local forest management efforts—fuel reduction, slash burning, and prescribed fires. Students will see first-hand what a healthy forest looks like that has been given this kind of care, and they will learn various homegrown methods to promote carbon sequestration.